Post 192

Utter Rubbish:
Reflections on an Article by Fr. George W. Rutler

Oh my.

I just finished reading the rest of his article.

Each sentence drips with self-satisfaction and bitterness.  He is so angry with any praise directed towards those who are, in his view, unworthy.  When a Catholic official or even a Catholic news service praises someone ‘bad,’ he gets vicious — just vicious.

He wants the Catholic Church to be as elitist as he is.

Man.

So let’s try to do this in an overview style, because, well, how much of our time does Fr. Rutler deserve?

Here are his major attacks:

CULPRIT: Cardinal Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture
CRIME: His statement quoted some of David Bowie’s lyrics.
IMPUTED INTENT: Mother Church appears ridiculous as Adolescent Church, as in the case of the Holy See lamenting David Bowie. The insatiable desire for approval by pop culture is beneath the dignity of the Church as the Mother of Nations.

CULPRIT: LOsservatore Romano
CRIME: Upon Bowie’s death, a writer praised Bowie’s musical ability and his personal sobriety, while excusing his “ambiguous image.”
IMPUTED INTENT: L’Osservatore Romano was aching to be the Church of Whats Happening Now. 

CULPRIT: Editor of LOsservatore Romano
CRIME: Upon Michael Jackson’s death, this editor said that Jackson had been a great dancer and said that his myth would live on, despite the serious and shameful allegations of pedophilia.  This editor also spoke in an uncritical way about the singer’s surgeries.  (I do not know if the editor was speaking about his facial surgeries or other ones, but Rutler seems to know what the editor meant.)

CULPRIT: Catholic News Service
CRIME:  Upon Versace’s death, a writer wrote: “Versace was noted for his sensual lines and eye-catching combinations of textural shades.”
IMPUTED INTENT: This simply is the diction of political correctness and it compromises the prophetic charism of the Church; for, as sages have observed one way or another, political correctness is the speech of those who are terrified by what might happen if they spoke the truth.

Then, for bonus points, Fr. Rutler just goes ahead and makes up a hypothetical.  Here we go:

HYPOTHETICAL CULPRIT: Editors of the gender-neutral New American Bible.
HYPOTHETICAL CRIME: Perhaps the next nervous surrender to fashion will be a declaration of Bruce/Caitlin Jenner as Person of the Year’”

(Hey, Fr. Rutler! How about if you limit yourself to mischaracterizing the motives and actions of different members of the Church, instead of dreaming up new things to be scandalized by?)

The other thing is that Fr. Rutler heavily slants things (as I mentioned in my previous post) with his choice of words. If he likes something, he makes it sound extra fancy.  If he dislikes something, he digs up as much dirt as he can, mentioning exactly which drugs were involved in the overdose, for instance.  He makes people sound silly and pathetic — the weeping of Sting and Elton John at a funeral, for instance.  And I note that the photo used of David Bowie was highly unflattering.  There are so many nice photos of him, but it’s all part of the negative theme.  Michael Jackson is referred to as a “crooner.”  He refers to Michael Jackson and David Bowie “and their sort.”  (And their “sort”!?  Oh gag!  Such a superior tone!)  He disparages at every opportunity, describing things to make people (and the Church) look bad.

He says that the Vatican plunged into mourning for this man.  He refers to the Vatican’s words as impulsive effusions of grief.  And with respect to the Catholic News Service’s piece about Versace, Fr. Rutler describes it like this: one thinks of the breathless Catholic News Service commentary in 2009. 

Breathless?

All of these words are intended to paint a picture of people who are overly emotional.

I don’t think they were.  I think they were focused on their own jobs at the moment, whether that was making a speech or writing an article in time for the printing deadline.

Mind you, if these people were emotional, that would be okay.  When people die, then sometimes other people mourn.  Sometimes other people are sad.  And it is possible for people to be sad when they hear of the death of someone whom they never met in person, such as a celebrity or a long-distance friend.

On Good Friday, people think about the death of Christ, and they are sometimes sad.

Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus.  He missed seeing him in person.

Grief is a normal thing, and there is nobody created who is unworthy of a tribute of some kind.  Every person was once a little baby, and in the eyes of God (and Mother Church), all people (even the rock stars, Fr. Rutler) are as precious as they were when they were first conceived.  People don’t escape the loving and watchful eye of God if they go astray.

You, Father Rutler, on the other hand, write an article called “Misplaced Grief,” and say (boastfully) that you did not know that David Bowie had been born.  (“Consequently, it was no surprise that news of the death of David Bowie was the first time I knew that he had been alive.”)   And of course, you go on to talk about what music you do like, as if we all care.

But this is not all.  He also labels everyone who mourns for these singers.  I missed it at first, but I see that at the bottom of his article, he says that the word “metrosexual” includes people who mourn for The Unworthy.  Of course, he doesn’t use the phrase ‘the Unworthy’ — he refers to people such as Michael Jackson and David Bowie this way: “paragons of degeneracy and paladins of vice.”  Here’s the same phrase with definitions in brackets: “paragons (=perfect examples) of degeneracy (=social ills and immorality) and paladins (=knights) of vice (=evil, immorality).”

He says that if you even weep for these people, you’re a metrosexual:

Christ was a carpenter and his apostles were mostly fishermen and none of them was what is called today a “metrosexual.” I am not sure what that term fully means, but it embraces anyone who weeps for paragons of degeneracy and paladins of vice.

According to Fr. Rutler, anyone who weeps for such people are covered by (embraced) this term.

That’s how he ends his elitist little article.

Uh, WTF?

Fr. Rutler, who do you think you are?

You apply a label to people all over the world who are sad about the death of Jackson or Bowie (or Prince or other famous actors/performers)?

You apply a label while declaring, at the same time, that you don’t know what it means?

Excuse me?

You carefully choose every multi-syllabic word to portray a nose flute or a didgeridoo as awesome and worthy of your time, and yet when you choose a word to stick onto people all over the world, you can’t be bothered to investigate what the word means?

I can’t believe this guy.

He makes JHW look almost cuddly.

Uh, well, maybe not.

(Mr. Weston, I think you should stick to having your photographs taken in colour.  This face-in-the-shadows look doesn’t really suit anybody.)

My point is that even John-Henry Weston didn’t assign labels to so many people at once.

But anyway, moving on, of course I detest Fr. Rutler’s snobby way of saying that when Chesterton criticized jazz music, Chesterton was having “an unmeasured moment.”

Who is he to say whether Chesterton was measured or unmeasured? Ah, maybe that’s what he says when he finds statements that he dislikes, but cannot attack the person himself.

But look: if Chesterton didn’t like jazz, then he didn’t like jazz.  Don’t dismiss or downgrade his thoughts by classifying them with your overly-active adjectives.  “Unmeasured.”  Pah!

Be quiet!  You don’t know what you’re talking about, again.

But in an article where Rutler outdoes himself sentence after sentence in being as arrogant as possible, perhaps the worst section is the part where he presents himself as the tender pastor over a troubled flock, and he rises up to attack those who he presents as detached, away in lofty towers and out of touch with his hellish reality.

He gives his recent experiences as examples.  They are cases where broken people barely had a good chance at life (partly or largely) because they didn’t have a chance to choose classical music.  Poor sods.  All they had was the modern stuff and it messed with their lives.

But I am a pastor of a section of Manhattan called Hell’s Kitchen. I recently had the funeral of a young man who died of a drug overdose, and whose musical world was Corybantic. His cousin, a client of the rock and drug scene, is in prison for murder. So I speak not only as an aesthete who publicly avows that he prefers Mozart and Chopin to Jackson and Bowie, but as a priest who has to pick up the pieces of those who never knew they had a choice. And I object to comfortable prelates in a higher realm, penning panegyrics for the doyens of a culture that destroys my children.

Ah, what a bunch of crap!

(In particular, check out how he meanly characterizes other Catholic clerics: “comfortable prelates in a higher realm.”)

Penning panegyrics?

(Definition: “A panegyric is a formal public speech, or written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and undiscriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical.”)

Doyens of a culture?

(Definition: A doyen is “the most respected or prominent person in a particular field”)

“My children”

?!!

In other words, on the one hand, there is the very concerned and fatherly Fr. Rutler, and on the other, there are the bad guys who are wrongly praising other bad guys in order to appear hip.

Now I agree: so much of what is popular music is very problematic.  However, do not write as if particular worldly conditions (regarding music or anything else) can lead to the ruin of people’s lives, causing them to lead immoral or corrupt lives.  Do not suggest this.  It is true that certain life circumstances are exceedingly difficult, but one thing does not go hand in hand with the other.  There is nobody in his parish or elsewhere who is or was unable to make a choice to lead a moral life.

The deceased drug-user may have listened to bad music, but one thing does not lead to the other.  There is no chain reaction.  Instead, you have one actor — one person — who made poor choices about using drugs and about listening to lame stuff.  It’s not a package deal, it’s not fair to describe it, as Fr. Rutler puts it, as a “rock and drug scene.”

Don’t delude yourself, Father, into thinking that if you gave this deceased man Chopin that he would have turned out differently.

It’s not as random as that.  In other words, God didn’t allow an oopsie here (forgot to give him exposure to Wagner) that ultimately resulted in the fellow finding other music and sliding down into an abyss of immorality.

It doesn’t work like that.

Don’t blame the music.  Don’t blame the “rock and roll genre” for the choices that your parishioner(s) or others make.

I agree, music is powerful, and I agree with Pope Benedict that the atmosphere at many music shows (and night clubs) is unnatural and highly problematic.  (I don’t have the full context of his words, but I suppose he was contrasting that with what you want as part of the liturgy.)  However, music is not so powerful that it can lead someone astray without their consent.  God is too good for that, and would not allow music to sweep us away like a leaf on a current.

And so Plato was wrong, when he said that music can make a soul graceful or ungraceful.  That is going too far.  Music does not have that much power.

Here’s the section that Fr. Rutler quoted.  Fr. Rutler said that Plato said that music “is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful …”

These Greek philosophers didn’t get everything right.

Someone should tell that to Fr. Rutler, who goes on to yak about muses:

Plato also knew the dangers of “anti-music” or Corybanticism, which perverted rhythms to stimulate the bodily humors in defiance of the good purposes of the muses. Its consequence would be a moral chain reaction, dissonant music deranging society and inverting virtue. The Corybants were priests of the Phrygian goddess Cybele, and their music was atonal, ecstatic, and dissolute. It was inimical to the ideal republic. But it incubated the ethereal realms of David Bowie and Michael Jackson and their sort.

Chain reactions?

No, no, no.

The spiritual life doesn’t work like an experiment in a chemistry lab.  There are choices, not chain reactions.  There are choices upon choices, at each and every moment of a person’s life.  Microseconds and milliseconds – these are all the junctions given by God for us to turn around and change.

Do not suggest that humans are so utterly vulnerable to the world around us.  This is false. We are not victims.  We may suffer, but we are not unable to choose what is good.  There is never a circumstance where a human soul is unable to please God by desiring, in his or her heart, to please him.

We can make our lives something which is pleasing to God at all times, no matter what song is playing on the radio.

 

Post 191

Nose in the Air: Reflections on a Paragraph Gone Wrong

I don’t know if you read “Crisis” magazine, but in January, the wife of FearlessOne sent me a link to something written by Fr. George W. Rutler, which was posted on the Crisis website. I wasn’t familiar with the magazine and I didn’t realize the article was written by a priest (until 30 seconds ago).

The article is called, “A Misplaced Grief: The Vatican and David Bowie.” Here’s the link.

It’s not a good article – not at all.

In it, Fr. Rutler gets so much of everything so terribly wrong.

It would take me a very long time to counter all of the errors in his article, so I’ll pick and choose, as long as you know that I could have said much more. I’ve already written to FearlessOne’s wife telling her that the article wasn’t any good and why, but I have more time on my hands this Sunday morning so I’ll hold my nose and go back to review it.

Here’s the first paragraph. I will sully the pristine pages of my blog by reprinting what he wrote:

In proof of Chesterton’s dictum that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly, I pound away at the piano playing the easier Chopin Nocturnes and I grind on my violin with a confidence only an amateur can flaunt. So I am not innocent of music. I appreciate the emotive post-war French singers, and have a soft spot for the idiomatic form called “Doo-Wop” and its highly skilled harmonization and lyricism, along with some of the more whimsical Motown singers. But the world of rock and roll is to me a bewilderment, to the amazement of the same coterie who find it hard to believe that I have never had a cellular phone. It is a fact in witness to which I am willing to swear on a Douai Bible, that I have never been able to listen to an entire rock and roll song. This is not to say that I lack curiosity. In the South Pacific, I have listened to tunes on the aboriginal eucalyptus didgeridoo and the Polynesian nose flute, but what has developed as rock and roll music and metastasized into more raucous forms, remains an anthropological enigma and I leave restaurants and public gatherings where they are played.

(Excuse me while I gag.)

Alright.

I’m back.

So Fr. Rutler begins his attack on David Bowie and the Church’s praise of Bowie with a description of himself. He tells us, in an adjective-heavy paragraph, a lot about his own preferences and his own leisure activities. I think he views himself as the gold standard.

Man. I just detest his self-absorbed style of writing where every sentence is as contorted and detail-packed as possible.

It reminds me of those who think it’s not okay to write the word “said.” (They also snub their nose at the words “good” and “nice.”) So they have these really cumbersome and thick sentences which are so unnatural. When you read their articles or posts, you’ll find that people do not just “say” things; people “remark” and people “exclaim” and people “interject” and people “recall” and people “observe.” You’re so distracted by reading how people said things that you can barely pay attention to what they said.

It can be exasperating to read such self-conscious stuff — a real slog. (Please, writer-dear, go take your thesaurus and do some origami with them pages.)

I don’t know how long it took Fr. Rutler to assemble his tortured first paragraph, but it’s very unpleasant. I suspect that it got worse and worse, the more he worked it.

Here’s a breakdown, with commentary:

The Normal Way Fr. Rutler’s Way Commentary
(Chesterton said…) “In proof of Chesterton’s dictum that…” Many people quote Chesterton because it sounds fancy. They think it makes them sound smart. Usually they do it the way Fr. Rutler did; they paraphrase and can’t identify the location of the quotation because they didn’t actually read G.K.’s stuff.
(I play the piano) “…I pound away at the piano…” Okay, that’s nice.
A lot of people know how to play the piano.
(I play pieces by Chopin) “…playing the easier Chopin Nocturnes…” The use of the word “the” here is a subtle way of showing you that he’s familiar with Chopin’s stuff and that it is really quite a nothing to mention – almost in passing – something that everyone is of course quite familiar with.  He’s SO much in the world of Chopin that he BARELY notices that you aren’t.  It’s like saying “I collect some of the later-issued Portuguese stamps.” It’s fine to talk this way if you’re on a forum for lovers of something specific (they’ll enjoy the detail, perhaps), but he knows perfectly well that his readers aren’t familiar with Chopin’s works, and in particular, they really don’t connect with “…the easier Chopin Nocturnes.”  Most readers can’t tell the difference between Chopin and Mozart, and Fr. Rutler knows it.  He’s rubbing it in here and I find that highly ick.
(I play the violin) “…I grind away on my violin…” Once again, that’s nice. Many people play the violin too.
(…even though I am an amateur) “…with a confidence only an amateur can flaunt” (humility)
(I know about music OR
I’m a musical person OR
I enjoy music)
“So I am not innocent of music.” Uh, okay.
Good for you? There’s a sort of ‘humour’ here which is VERY self-conscious. It’s a variation on a theme where someone is admitting, in a roundabout and mildly euphemistic way, that they know too much about something that they shouldn’t know anything at all about. For example, if a priest were to nudge-nudge wink-wink say to you, “I am not innocent of women,” then you’d know that 1) he talks weird, and 2) he’s not feeling at all repentant and in fact is rather pleased with himself, and 3) maybe he was never meant to be priest. There’s a slight glibness built into the phrase.

So here Fr. Rutler is using a phrase which wasn’t all that great in the first place and adding his personal amusing-to-him twist.

Groan.

Moving on …

(And I like some of the French singers from the 1940s) “I appreciate the emotive post-war French singers…” Oh puh-leeze.
“emotive”?
Cough cough. Gag.

And here there’s the same problem with the use of “the.” And really, who nowadays throws in references to “the post-war era”? That sounds like something a history prof might say. Mind you, I have a feeling that this is the look he’s going for here.

(I like) “…I have a soft spot for…” This is a way of ‘stooping down’ to the level of something else. The idea here is that you have standards, but you’re ready to relax them for something which would otherwise be a little beneath you. You are being rather indulgent and tolerant; it turns out that you aren’t entirely firm and unyielding. You have a little mercy, in the midst of all that brilliant exactness, is the idea.
(Doo-Wop music) “…the idiomatic form called “Doo-Wop” and its highly skilled harmonization and lyricism…” (Gag)
He approaches “Doo-Wop” with white gloves. He puts it in quotations to show you that he is unaccustomed to talking in such a doo-woppity way. But don’t you dare laugh, because he lets you know that he has detected its “highly-skilled harmonization” and “lyricism.”

Um, okay. That’s nice.

(I like some Motown singers too) “…along with some of the more whimsical Motown singers…” Of course, a true connoisseur can distinguish between the regular singers and the ‘more whimsical’ ones.

Ack.

(I don’t understand rock music.) “…but the world of rock and roll is to me a bewilderment…” Notice that he won’t call it “rock music.” He’s not on a first-name basis with it. So he shows you his distance by referring to it, each and every time, with the full name: “rock and roll.”

And man, I really dislike this snobby word sequence. Instead of saying “I am bewildered by the world of rock and roll,” which is bad enough, he writes that the world is “to me” a bewilderment.

Oh puh-leeze, Father Rutler!

(My friends OR my acquaintances) “…the coterie…” A coterie is “a small group of people with shared interests or tastes, especially one that is exclusive of other people.”

The dictionary gives an example: “a coterie of friends and advisers.”

The synonym are: clique, set, circle, inner circle, crowd, in-crowd.

Are priests supposed to have coteries?

I thought they were there to tend to the laity.

(I have never had a
cell phone)
“…I have never had a
cellular phone…”
The man opts for the full three-syllable version of the word. It is, once again, a method of demonstrating his distance from this for-the-masses modern technology.

(Now I don’t own one either, but it’s not because I haven’t tried. I had one long before you did, I bet. They were the flip-open kind then. I never used it, because I’d forget to recharge it and I’d leave it in the trunk of my car. When I called to cancel my subscription, the upseller-let’s-fit-you-with-a-new-plan man couldn’t find any suitable packages for those whose history of use for each month was zero, zero, zero, zero … So he let me go.)

(I would be willing to swear…) “…It is a fact in witness to which I am willing to swear…” You must be kidding, Father.

“In witness to which” ?

Honestly, Father, do you REALLY have to write like this?

Who ya tryin’ to impress, hey?

Or shall I say, “Whom are you trying to impress?”

I’m all in favour of good grammar but COME ON!

(…on a bible) “…on a Douai Bible…” Wikipedia says: The DouayRheims Bible (pronounced /ˌduːeɪ/ or /ˌdaʊ.eɪ ˈriːmz/) (also known as the RheimsDouai Bible or Douai Bible, and abbreviated as DR and DV) is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the English College, Douai, in the service of the Catholic Church. The New Testament portion was published in Reims, France, in 1582, in one volume with extensive commentary and notes. The Old Testament portion was published (blah blah blah…)

Alright then.

(I am curious) “This is is not to say that I lack curiosity” Good to know, I guess?
(In Hawaii?) “In the South Pacific…” Fr. Rutler doesn’t say, like a normal person, that he went to Hawaii. That would sound rather, well, ordinary. But I betcha that’s where he heard a Polynesian nose flute.

No, he doesn’t tell us where he went. He does it differently.

Sigh.

Why not? I’ll tell you. It’s because it sounds altogether more exotic and mysterious if you instead casually refer — as if in passing — to the time you were “in the South Pacific.”

Whatever.

(The world isn’t that big a place nowadays. The airplane has been invented and is frequently used. People travel. It’s not that big a deal.)

I’m not sure anybody cares that you went to some hot beachy place where the women had bikini tops and exposed fleshy bellies. As for the nose flute – well, that’s your own unfortunate past.

I think a nose is a rather gross way to make music. If you want to talk about ‘anthropological enigmas,’ Father Rutler, then I’d say it’s pretty weird to fasten objects to just any place on our body that can expel air.

Besides, it looks stupid.

(Hey Bozo, what’s that thing on your nozo?)

But if that’s the side you’re on, then alright.

I’ll be over there listening to “rock and roll.”

(a didgeridoo) “…the aboriginal eucalyptus didgeridoo…” He provides the four-syllable substance that it was made out of.
(a nose flute) “…the Polynesian nose flute…” Another four-syllable word.

Yeah, I can see why you’d want to add some syllables.

There’s something not quite upscale about NOSE FLUTE.

What did you say? 

Nose what?

Flute.

What?

Flute.  NOSE FLUTE.

Nose flu?

No!  Nose, FLUTE

Flew?

NO!  FLUTE!

No flute?

NO!  NOSE FLUTE!

What?  A flute?

Yes!  Yes!  Flute!  Flute!

A nose flute!

Seriously?

A flute for the nose?

Yes!  Thats it!

Seriously?

Yes!

For the nose?  A flute?

Yes, its – well, its just great!

Are you okay?

Yes!

Are you sure?

Yes!  Yes, I am — 

Really?  Maybe you have a cold or something.

Huh?

Yeah, like you know, a flu, a touch of the nose flu

Would you like a Kleenex?

Uh, no, thats okay, Im fine.  Ive got my nose flute here; Ill just go blow that

Yeah.  (Kind of gross.)

(Rock music has branched off into other types of harsh and loud music) “…what has developed as rock and roll music and metastasized into more raucous forms…” The word “metastasized” means change, but because it is normally associated with cancer, it’s got a very negative flavour, which is what he wants.
The word “raucous” means disturbingly harsh and loud.
(Is a confusing human phenomenon) “…remains an anthropological enigma…” For a man who began by paraphrasing Chesterton, Fr. Rutler has most certainly departed from his views. Chesterton was very much a champion of the common man and the types of things that were enjoyed by the average person for entertainment (penny dreadfuls, mystery stories, singing, dancing, etc). Chesterton did not disdain normal interests. As for the field called anthropology, he certainly had no respect for its goofy theories which speculated about human conduct in the past. He would view Fr. Rutler’s phrase “anthropological enigma” as a useless and puffed-up waste of syllables.

I find the phrase both confusing and snobby, as if he views this segment of humanity (or this aspect of human culture) as a real oddity, the way you might view the behaviour of some being which is not altogether civilized. I may be getting this wrong (as I say, it’s confusing), but his use of the word anthropological is creating this type of mood and association.

(I leave restaurants and public places where they are played) “…and I leave restaurants and public gatherings where they are played.” (Whew, he’s gone.
Crank up the tunes.)

Now as I have previously said, I understand how it feels to dislike music that’s playing when it’s not what you want to hear.
I get it.
But the thing is that Fr. Rutler is doing it on principle, to avoid breaking a personal track record. He wants to be able to keep threatening to swear on a Douai Bible.

And let’s explore that last point. Let me take up this thread about swearing on (not-just-any) bible.

What exactly is Fr. Rutler prepared to swear about?

Ah yes.

He’s prepared to swear on a book of Scripture that

he hasn’t heard a whole rock song.

Really.

What did you say, Father?

What did you say?

“It is a fact in witness to which I am willing to swear on a Douai Bible, that I have never been able to listen to an entire rock and roll song.”

Ah yes.

Who has asked you to swear on a bible, Father Rutler?

Let me check.

Ah yes.

Nobody.

But that doesn’t stop him – he’s volunteering.

Does anybody see a problem here?

I do.

I see a problem with him just Throwing That In There.

I see a big problem.

The bible isn’t something you mention as a way of emphasizing that you are saying what’s true. And in particular, it isn’t something you toss into your sentence to prove you really do detest rock music.

You are using something which is important and sacred to prove something which is trivial and utterly inconsequential.

Who cares whether you are capable or incapable of listening to an entire rock song?

(And on that topic, his claim is so ridiculous! Father, do you really want us to believe that you are INCAPABLE of listening to the remainder of a rock song that is coming out of an overhead sound system? You lie. You are entirely able to listen to such a thing. When they are played in restaurants, they are not deafeningly loud. And besides, the songs are only about 3 minutes long — by the time you have lived through the first thirty seconds, you have only about two and a half minutes left to survive. Clench your menu and grit your teeth if you have to, but trust me, you’ll make it.

What do you really think would happen to you if you didn’t flee from the restaurant or “public gathering” place? (And what’s with the word ‘public’? Do you sometimes tolerate it when you are at a private gathering?)

What would happen?
Would you melt?
Would you disintegrate?
Would you implode?
Would you explode?

Watch your words. If you are really getting ready to make an oath, then modify what you say. Write that you have never listened to an entire rock song in a public gathering place, if that is true — if your parents raised you in an igloo and never took you somewhere that such music was playing. But don’t write that you “have never been able to listen.” Alternatively, write that you really do not want to listen to an entire rock song. Don’t imply that the good God has designed a human being whose brain is wired such that he cannot tolerate such an easy thing.)

But anyway, if anyone were to take a strong interest in your musical preferences, I would advise you not to talk about swearing on bibles, of any kind.

You know better.

You’re a priest — a Catholic priest.

You are a priest before you are a writer. You are a priest before you are an author or a blogger.

So don’t get carried away when you write, and start grabbing (even figuratively) Catholic sacred things to make your points.

And please don’t tell me you wrote that way just for the sake of humour, or just for the sake of an interesting touch. It’s not good enough.

It’s an excuse that won’t fly; it doesn’t get off the ground.

As for me, on the other hand, I think I will fly.

I’ll stop for now, is what I mean. I’m past 3000 words and I’ve got other things to do.

I will resume to finish off Rutler’s article, but for now

Let’s dance

Put on your red shoes and dance the blues

Let’s dance to the song
They’re playin’ on the radio

Post 190

Yes I Know the Guy is a Yogi:
Reflections on the Catholic Church’s Relations with the Rich and Famous

There’s something that you understand, which some people don’t.  You understand that when I say that Sting was inspired in his song, “Every Breath You Take,” that doesn’t mean that I think that everything else about him rocks.

You get that, right?

It’s not that complex.

Even a person who is thoroughly mixed-up can have good motives and (therefore) great moments.  The Holy Spirit can inspire anyone.

Nevertheless, it is so often the case that smug Catholics cannot handle it when the Catholic Church says something nice or otherwise honours people who are big in popular culture.  When David Bowie died and the Church commented, some Catholics went nuts.  They were disgusted that the Church spoke about him at all.

So, turning to John-Henry Weston, I say that he also doesn’t get it.  His situation is worse, however, because he encourages others to criticize and distrust the Pope, in the name of Catholicism.  JHW published on his website and in his magazine, an ill-willed piece against the Pope.  It’s by Patrick B. Craine, and it’s called “Pope Francis’ award to Hollywood pro-abortion, anti-marriage advocates endangers the family.”  The link is here.

In Patrick B. Craine’s narrow mind, it is wrong and scandalous for the Catholic Church to praise individuals for good work on various projects or initiatives if other aspects of their lives aren’t in keeping with Catholic teaching and values.

So let’s ramp this up.  Here’s the recipe used by those who want to condemn the Pope or the Church. Bob and BettyLou are the stars of this one:

STEP ONE: Find an instance where the Pope is shaking hands with or smiling at or being near Bob or BettyLou.  (Insert photo)

STEP TWO: Show that Bob and BettyLou are really very bad. In order to do this, go online to find photos of Bob with his wayward brother, or BettyLou posing wearing nearly zero.  Find a film where Bob was pretending to be immoral, and find a quote where BettyLou said she disliked organized religion.  (Don’t include the part where she says, like Salma Hayek did, that she believes in Jesus Christ.)  Insert incriminating photos if possible. 

STEP THREE: Suggest that the Pope wants Bob and BettyLou to be the face, in some way, of Catholicism.

STEP FOUR: State that a good person would not associate with Bob or BettyLou.

STEP FIVE: Conclude that the Pope is bad.

Patrick Craine’s article follows that pattern:

STEP ONE (evidence of togetherness): He focuses on an event on May 29, 2016, where Pope Francis presented an award (“Olive Medal for Peace”) to Richard Gere, George Clooney and Salma Hayek.  Craine wasn’t in attendance, so Craine bases his opinion on what he can find about it online.

STEP TWO (Bob is bad): Craine provides quotes (also from online) which show George Clooney advocating for causes which go against Catholic teaching, and which show Salma Hayek criticizing specific actions of the Catholic Church (in an interview 9 years ago).

Now tell me, is it easy or difficult to show that a Hollywood actor has said and done things that are not in keeping with Catholic Church teaching?  You’ll agree – in general, this is very easy.  Thus we find that this easy thing has been accomplished by Patrick Craine.  Alrighty.

STEP THREE (Pope promotes Bob):  Craine downplays the fact that the conference was organized by people other than the Pope, and instead he makes every effort to closely link the Pope to the Hollywood actors.  The truth is that the conference was set up by Scholas Occurrentes.  Beginning in 2013, Scholas Occurrentes has been able to call itself a pontifical foundation.

Scholas Occurrentes’ website personally doesn’t turn me on, but maybe I just don’t know enough about how soccer and handprints in clay are going to bring about world peace. Nevertheless, I won’t blame the foundation for trying, and for spotlighting the actions of well-known people who have done some things in accordance with what is good.  Carry on, is my thought.  Patrick Craine, on the other hand, wants to make a federal case about the awards, and wants to impugn both the actors and Pope Francis.  So he does not investigate how much distance there is between the givers of the award and Pope Francis.  Instead, when you read what he has written, you are left with the erroneous impression that Pope Francis came up with these three actors himself.  You picture Pope Francis in his armchair: “Hmm, which famous people should I praise?”

Uh, yeah.  That’s just not how it would have happened.

Here are some of Craine’s quotations, drawing the link as tightly as possible:

  • “Sadly, if we are to maintain integrity, we must say the same of the pope’s own educational charity.
  • “On May 29, Pope Francis presided over an event at Scholas Occurrentes, a pontifical foundation he founded, and awarded an Olive Medal for Peace to George Clooney, Richard Gere, and Salma Hayek at a publicized Vatican event. (Do you see what I mean?  You’d think that it was an event more about Pope Francis than about the organizers from Scholas Occurrentes.)
  • He then repeats himself in this sentence: “The awards were given at the VI World Congress of Scholas Occurrentes, a foundation of pontifical right founded by Pope Francis in 2013.” 
    (Did you catch it that time?  He is taking no chances here – Mr. Craine wants you to really notice that this organization is linked to Pope Francis. That’s essential, so that when he slams the bad actors, the pope will fall with them.)
  • “We can hope that Pope Francis was ignorant as to the public stances of those he’s awarding.” In that sentence, the blurring is complete.  You get the impression that Pope Francis personally chose these actors.

Patrick Craine makes the physical giving of the award the equivalent of a papal endorsement of everything the actors have said and done.

If you think I am accusing Patrick Craine of too much, then you haven’t seen the twisted reasoning on his blog.  The following section is from a post where he loses his mind over Pope Francis receiving Angelina Jolie.  Craine wrote:

On January 8, 2015, Pope Francis received actress Angelina Jolie in the room where he normally receives heads of States and ambassadors. The film Unbroken, recently released and directed by Jolie, was viewed at the Vatican by Prelates and Diplomats. She was invited to be present and, after its showing, she was received by the Pope. (News report here) Since Francis is known for his preference for symbolic gestures rather than official pronouncements, this reception of Angelina Jolie represents an endorsement of her entire career. It is an implicit affirmation that Francis objects to nothing in her past life. Now then, the actress’ career is known for two main characteristics: her proclivity for the occult/demonic and her bold immoral/porno poses for movies, magazines and photos.  By receiving her, Francis not only blesses her occult-immoral career, but makes a strong blow against Catholic Morals. It is another attempt to destroy the Church from within. Something the external enemies never managed to achieve.

What a ridiculous mound of crap!

(With unintentionally bad grammar to boot.)

I find it very distasteful that he implies that Angelina Jolie is unfit to stand in a certain room – such snobbery!  In the Pharisaical mind of Patrick Craine, the room is too good for her.  The room, after all, is used for “heads of States and Ambassadors.”  (He capitalizes whenever he thinks something is important, hence you’ll find him capitalizing “Prelates and Diplomats” and “Catholic Morals.”

?

The man needs an editor.

Oops — I guess he has one.  My copy of the magazine identifies the editor as John-Henry Westen, whose last name sometimes appears printed as Weston.  Methinks this editor needs an editor.)

Ah, but to get back on track, you can see the illogicality of Patrick Craine’s stuck-up rant.  Pope Francis is not allowed to even greet the director of the movie that he has viewed.  According to Craine, if the Pope meets with her, then he blesses her career and affirms that he objects to nothing in her past life.

!

I can’t believe that anyone with a brain would write such nonsense!

Don’t you get it, Patrick?  Receiving someone (or even praising someone for one thing, whether it be a movie or a song, or a history of advocacy for trees) is most definitely not an endorsement of an “entire career” or an entire “past life”!

My goodness.

Where is your brain, Mr. Craine?

And here I should mention the word ‘ambassador.’  I cannot find, anywhere online, proof that Pope Francis (or Scholas Occurrentes, for that matter) has made these actors into ambassadors for Scholas.  Maybe this is true, but I can’t confirm it using normal sources.

Mind you, I see that Patrick Craine’s hard-hitting research has taken him over to “The Hollywood Reporter.” The Hollywood Reporter used the word ‘ambassador’ according to Craine.

Hmm.

Hey Patrick!  Let’s talk about your source.

I’ve never heard of “The Hollywood Reporter.”  Do you find it to be a credible and reliable source for information about the Vatican and Catholic organizations?  Are you endorsing everything ever written by The Hollywood Reporter when you rely upon and publicize this tidbit of possibly-correct data?  By referring to this source, do you not embrace every image and every word put out there by this “Reporter” since its inception as being true and worthy of attention?  Or do you consider it possible to rely on The Hollywood Reporter this one time, without giving a platform to it beyond your current needs?

Do you see the problem, Patrick?

Sigh.

Anyway, if Scholas Occurrentes and these actors have come to an agreement that they will work together to promote artistry in clay or kicking a ball, I have no objection.  I’m not worried about it. I figure that if there is an ambassador arrangement in place at all, that relationship will be based on furthering the goals of Scholas Occurrentes.

STEP FOUR (Good people avoid Bob): This is the part where Mr. Craine talks about how good people know better than to be seen shaking hands or being near anybody who is bad:

  • “As Catholic parents, we would have nothing to do with a school that chose a pro-abortion and same-sex ‘marriage’ activist like George Clooney as an ambassador.”
  • He quotes from a document produced by the U.S. bishops in 2004: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.  They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

I don’t mind this rule, but it’s an interesting stretch to use a local guideline to clobber the Pope.  This rule prohibits awards which suggest support for a defiant action.  But in giving these Olive Medals, Scholas Occurrentes was not supporting defiant actions.  The reason for giving the award had to do with the actors’ activism against climate change, war and terrorism (Patrick Craine writes that he found that out from a Catholic website called Crux).  The awards were not seals of approval upon every word and deed of their lives.

He reads the rule of the U.S. bishops too broadly, in assuming that ANY award serves to ‘suggest support’ for a person’s WHOLE life.  Whoa horsey.

With Craine’s interpretation, I can’t imagine how any Catholic person, community or institution could give out any honours. Indeed, Catholics would be shackled in attempting to praise almost anyone.

And he goes on:

“By honoring activists like Clooney, Gere and Hayek, Pope Francis is undermining efforts by the Catholic faithful to preserve the faith.  He’s making our job next to impossible.” 

Ha ha ha!

The Pope is making Patrick Craine’s job next to impossible!

Have you lost your MIND, Patrick?

You complain that the Pope is GETTING IN YOUR WAY?

The audacity!  The blindness!  The arrogance!

Ah, this article is such a disaster.  He attacks these three actors repeatedly, painting them all with the same brush: “All three Hollywood celebrities have a history of advocacy against the Church’s moral and social teachings.”  And again: “Unfortunately, all three actors have a history of supporting causes to dismantle the traditional family and morality, including abortion and same-sex ‘marriage,’ both in their films and their public advocacy work.”  To read this, you would think that these three people are really out to get the Catholic Church.  He later calls them “the enemies of life and the natural family.”  Yowzers.  The man gets entirely carried away but he provides so little support for his labels.  Regarding Richard Gere, no specific instances are given, and regarding Salma Hayek, he needs to go back nine years for one of his internet-derived quotations.

It is obvious that these actors are not as openly or as intentionally hostile towards the Church as Craine claims, because it would have been a simple matter for any of them to refuse the award.  And obviously, nobody forced them to travel to Rome to attend the conference either, but there they were, dressed to the nines along with their spouses (girlfriend in the case of Richard Gere). They accepted, evidently supportive of the Pope and Schola Occurrentes.  Good for them; I’m happy for them and annoyed by people like Craine, who presume to speak on behalf of faithful Catholics.

STEP FIVE (The Pope is bad): If the words above are not enough, Craine gives us more.  In addition to claiming that Pope Francis’ presentation of these awards is “a grave scandal,” he writes:

The pope’s actions, though, are unfortunately much worse than merely adding extra burdens on the faithful.  Vastly worse.  For by honoring the enemies of life and the natural family, the pope is playing a part in the cultural destruction going on all around us.  This is truly a scandal of immense proportion — much more damaging than Notre Dame’s Obama debacle – because it involves the endorsement of the Vicar of Christ himself. 

And this is not all.  Patrick Craine goes on to say that it does not matter what Pope Francis’ intention was.

Oh Monsieur Craine, you have no idea how wrong you are!

He says that even if the Pope were ignorant or misguided (these are Craine’s words, not mine), handing out these awards was still scandalous.  (And here I note how frequently both JHW and Craine refer to Pope Francis as just “Francis.”  In many cases, this wouldn’t be a sign of disrespect, but in their case, it is.)  He writes as follows, once again equating the physical presentation of the awards with the selection of the recipients:

These awards are deeply concerning no matter what the intention in bestowing them.  They may very well have been given in good faith, or even possibly as some sort of misguided faith outreach to the rich and famous.  But, frankly, no good intentions can justify the scandal.  We can hope that Pope Francis was ignorant as to the public stances of those he’s awarding.  But no one will dispute that he has a responsibility to know.

Wait a minute.  Did you say, Patrick, that “no one will dispute”?  Well guess what?  You’re wrong.  Here I am and I’m disputing that Pope Francis has a responsibility to know what these actors have said and done.  They are public figures, and the sheer volume of material that would have to be compiled and reviewed for veracity would make everyone’s job next to impossible.  It is not your place to declare what is and what isn’t Pope Francis’ responsibility.  A good argument can be made that all he has to know is where and when to show up.  Isn’t he allowed to trust the organization that is choosing recipients for its awards?  I think so.  He needn’t second-guess every Catholic organization’s decisions, even if the organization is a personal favorite.

So leave him alone.  I am sure, if we look back, that there were many instances where Catholic honours and awards were given to people who were ‘bad.’  And on that note, I am sure that all the popes and saints have stood near people who were viewed as ‘bad.’  I am sure of this.  We just don’t have 2000 years’ worth of photographs.

But really, who are the bad ones?

If I know anything, it is that sometimes the ones with the blackest hearts lead what looks like unimpeachable lives.  You won’t find immodest pictures of them online, and you won’t see them hanging out at the alternative lifestyle bar.  You won’t, but judging is not as easy as that.

Who are the bad ones?

Jesus socialized with the tax collectors and the prostitutes.

The Pharisees complained.

Jesus’ apostles were fishermen who didn’t wash their hands.

The Pharisees complained.

Who are the bad ones?

Pope Francis hands an award to this actor and shakes the hand of that Lutheran.

Do you complain?

Pope Francis washes this prisoner’s foot and receives that actress.

Do you complain?

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.  And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  (Luke 15: 1,2)

Post 189

Faithfully and the Other Inspired Song from 1983

Going into it, I wouldn’t have predicted that only 2 of the 100 songs from 1983 would make it. When I looked through the titles, I had good memories of so many of them. Diving into the lyrics, however, I garbaged about 70 of the 100, and some of them had been my favorites.

But hey – that still left me with about 30 (I counted). So I headed to Youtube and gave these a listen. Some were unpleasant to hear even once (bad singing or melody or both), but others were better, so then came the question: would I be willing to listen to this over and over?

In most cases, the answer was no. A good refrain isn’t good enough; the song has to be enjoyable from beginning to end.

Journey came back again with a genuine love song (“Faithfully”), but the love songs from so many other artists failed big time. The lyrics would be unobjectionable, but the tune and the beat were so deathly boring. WiseOne said that it’s likely a case of the musicians wanting to artificially manufacture the mood and the sentiment, instead of having it for real. So they use the factory-settings for Popular Love Song — ah yes, here’s gushy and gloopy and squishy and droopy.

Contrast that with Journey’s song, which has just as much ooph as songs which aren’t about love. (And I guess this’ll be the place where I mention that I like my chocolate al dente. In other words, let it have some substance. I don’t like bon-bons filled with cream, collapsing as you bite. I dislike the surprise of something being less solid than I expected. You and I both know there’s an analogy in there, but I’ll leave it and tell you that I don’t like my donuts filled with cream either. It’s no longer a dough-nut, in that case. Not a nut. Not a nutcase, as you know. No – when you fill it, it morphs into something else – now you gotta call it an éclair or something else with an accent. But hey, don’t let me stop you – I know some very saintly people who enjoy the inside surprise. Bon appétit, man.)

People so often connect what is good with what is anemic and limp. They perceive and proceed with incorrect stereotypes, dividing the world into 1) good people and things, which are Nice and Sweet but Boring and Weak and 2) bad people and things, which are Evil and Mean but Clever and Fun.

(In such a world, how can we be surprised that classic stories are being reworked to showcase the evil-minded characters as the ones worth cheering for?)

So when people go to write a wholesome love song, they think: I am now going to write a Wholesome Love Song. They sit down and try to imagine how that SHOULD sound.

They guess wrong.

You wind up with crap like “Up Where We Belong.” Ack. Pity the person who gets that one stuck in their head!

It’s just no good!

You wind up with songs where the vowels are stretched waaay tooooo faaaar. Where’s the pause button? Quick! Close the tab! Make it stop!

Yeah. Love songs don’t have to sound noticeably different than non-love songs. Both are about life and both can rock.

And hey, that reminds me of something —

You’ve heard how Jesus said to Peter, “You are the rock, and upon this rock I build my church,” right? I was thinking, maybe that’s just an abbreviation in the translation. Maybe he said, “You’re the rocket and upon this rocket I build my church.”

Hey?

Maybe!

And nah, don’t tell me it would’ve been anachronistic, because I know perfectly well that people who use that word use it mainly to show that they know that word.

(I got ya figured.)

So anyway, I was left with only two songs, but look on the bright side: 50% of them were love songs, the best ratio so far!

1. Journey: Faithfully
2. Police: Every Breath You Take

From what I’ve seen so far, it looks like Police has only the one piece. Some artists and bands have only one. That’s why I’m impressed that Journey got in there again. You never can tell — one or even four successes does not ensure that the artist will be able to deliver on a later album. Take, for instance, Hall & Oates’ “Family Man.” At first glance, you’d think it’d be a winner, but it wasn’t. It was problematic because it is ostensibly about a guy who is faithful, but it’s that rather icky thing where he’s in a place where he’s needing to fend off all the chicks. What’s he doing there in the first place? What kind of a predicament has he gotten himself into that he has to decline between-the-sheets solicitation or invitation? It reminds me of Andy Grammer’s “Honey I’m Good.”

Yeah? I don’t think y’are.

And then of course, I couldn’t help but notice the artists who entered the top 100 time after time but who always made me groan. Culture Club, Diana Ross, Rick Springfield and Kenny Rogers were some of them. There was always something wrong, either with the lyrics (Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” had a massive ‘ewww’ factor, for example) or the method of delivery. It’s too bad, because some of these folks were obviously talented. Michael Jackson and Mr. B. George both wrote their own stuff from the looks of it, and when they went to perform, they had new ideas too. You can see why these guys were popular. Not inspired, but popular, largely because they were innovative and interesting.

Oh well. I really was cheering for some of these artists, but they weren’t quite good enough.

As for Loverboy, well, I just want to puke.

But enough of that.

I think the bouncers have carried them out. They can go sit on the street with those ZZ Top pervs and their way-too-big beards. Good riddance!

Here are the two songs from 1983.

They made it all worthwhile.

Every Breath You Take – The Police
(Lyrics: Sting = Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner)

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you.

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you.

Oh can’t you see
You belong to me?
How my poor heart aches with every step you take.

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you.

Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace.
I dream at night, I can only see your face.
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace.
I feel so cold, and I long for your embrace.
I keep crying baby, baby, please…

Oh can’t you see
You belong to me?
How my poor heart aches with every step you take.

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you.

Every move you make
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you…

I’ll be watching you

Faithfully – Journey
(Lyrics: Jonathan Cain)

Highway run
Into the midnight sun
Wheels go round and round
You’re on my mind

Restless hearts
Sleep alone tonight
Sendin’ all my love
Along the wire

They say that the road
Ain’t no place to start a family
Right down the line
It’s been you and me
And lovin’ a music man
Ain’t always what it’s supposed to be

Oh girl you stand by me
I’m forever yours, faithfully

Circus life
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns
To make us smile

Through space and time
Always another show
Wondering where I am
Lost without you

And being apart ain’t easy on this love affair
Two strangers learn to fall in love again
I get the joy
Of rediscovering you

Oh girl, you stand by me
I’m forever yours, faithfully

Faithfully, I’m still yours

I’m forever yours

Ever yours, faithfully

Post 188

Who Can It Be Now?
And Other Inspired Songs from 1982

If a song is released in 1981 but becomes popular in 1982, then should I group that song with the 1981 songs or with the 1982 songs?

These are the types of thorny issues that we bloggers face.

I agree that it would be more precise to go by release date, but the thing about the United States popularity date is that for those of us who were mostly relying on the radio or popular media for our music, it’s this latter date that’s important. Different songs evoke feelings or even specific memories based on where we were when.

The song “Lady in Red,” for instance, reminds me of Beth at a high school dance. She was dating Enrique at the time, and when that song played, I saw them look at each other; it was one of those moments that must have felt like destiny for them (everything does, when you’re infatuated with someone) because she was wearing a red dress. I was happy for them and I liked the poetry of the moment.

I was stunned and saddened to hear that she had died. I didn’t find out until I went to organize my high school reunion in 2013. I think she’s the only one from my high school class who isn’t walking this earth these days.

Anyway, the songs from 1982 are pre-high school for me. I associate many of them with the dances in the junior high gym. The teachers would attend too, watching from the perimeters. They were ‘supervising’ I guess, and to us students, they were nearly invisible. Even a twenty-five year old teacher was, relatively speaking, a dinosaur, incapable of understanding us, was the general thought. It’s only now that I realize what it feels like to be ‘grown up.’ I see that it’s a lot like being not grown up, and I see that I am more like myself as a child than I am like any other grown-up. It’s only now that I realize that they would have badly wanted to dance too.

Ah, but I should get back to work.

Or, to be more specific, I should get back to Men at Work.

I was very pleased with “Who Can it Be Now?” and VigilantOne couldn’t believe my claim. He said, “You’re saying that’s inspired? By God?”

Ha ha ha.

Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.

No joke.

God inspires so many people, and so many artists. To be inspired, you merely need the right disposition. You need to want to do right, and you need to be willing to do what it takes to get it right. Your motive does not need to be consciously related to God. You do not need to be writing church music to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If your motive is as simple as wanting to write a song that is truthful and enjoyable for your fans, then you will probably be inspired.

So you’d think, then, that it wouldn’t be terribly hard to hit the mark.

Sadly, it is, because the human heart has a lot of dark corners. Unfortunately, in the writing of a song, many people let the ball drop. They focus on merely getting the job done, and the apathy mars what could have been good. Alternatively, they focus on self-promotion, and the ego blocks God’s light to their head. And then of course, there are those who are out to produce something dirty and low. Those folks get their ideas from elsewhere.

Motive is everything. God supports good motives.

I’ve more than once joked, who needs talent if you’ve got inspiration?

Alright, so for 1982, I’ve got:

1. Alan Parsons Project: Eye in the Sky
2. Hall & Oates: I Can’t Go for That
3. Hall & Oates: Maneater
4. Hall & Oates: Private Eyes
5. Journey: Don’t Stop Believing
6. Journey: Open Arms
7. Men at Work: Who Can it Be Now?
8. Survivor: Eye of the Tiger

That’s pretty good — 200% more than I found for 1981.

I suppose I’ll later come across more songs for these years, and I’ll then have to face yet another blogging dilemma. Would I go back to these posts and add new songs I’ve found or would I make a new post to cover off the later-discovered?

Ah.

Dilemmas dilemmas.

Anyway, as before, I’m going to put the lyrics here. I get these from online, but I do try to correct any mistakes I find when I repost them myself. Some artists (Alan Parsons Project, for instance) post the lyrics on their official sites, but some (Queen, for instance) want you to go out and buy a book in order to know what they were.

The other thing I thought I should mention is that I really don’t choose these songs for an ulterior motive. I am not favouring songs which express my own thoughts or sentiments at the moment, for example.

(This is the disclaimer part, ha ha: “The ideas expressed in these lyrics do not reflect the views of the blogger . . .

except when they do . . . ”)

Of course, I do find it amusing and fascinating that most of the songs could have been personal theme songs at one point or another, but that’s not why I pick them. I have no need to do that, because if there’s something I want to say, I can just say it. I don’t need another writer to write my lines. I choose these songs because they’re inspired. And inspired stuff always has more general application than the uninspired, because it will truthfully describe life, not only for the sinner, but also for the saint. That’s just how it works, and it’s good, because it means that humanity can find itself expressed. You get a few artists writing well, and the rest of us can enjoy what they’ve done, while we pursue other types of work and leisure.

But speaking of sinners and saints, it’s really a shame that so few love songs are left at the end of the day. It seems that there are two extremes out there. You have the crooners who sing dull and dreary general-admission lyrics, and then you have the sex-fixated losers who sing repeatedly about one night stands and strangers walking down the street or whatever. They speak of sex as a game or a Saturday night diversion. Man! And the way they talk about women, you really conclude they never understood them at all. Some of these artists should have been castrated.

I’m joking, but you get my point, hey?

Stevie Wonder should just put away his equipment. I mean really! These lyrics! They’re not good enough to be scrawled on a dirty bathroom wall. And he’s not alone (yeah, he’s never alone — five wives and how many others?). There are so many other artists who produced so much smut. Sheena Easton, Lionel Ritchie, John Cougar Mellencamp, Olivia Newton-John, J. Geils Band — oh man, the list is long. It’s actually longer than this, but I’ll give you the ones that stand out as I scan over the hits. And what on earth is the problem with that Barbara Streisand chick? Growing up, I thought she was just a harmless and boring old lady with a big nose, but now that I read her lyrics, I see she just wasn’t okay. To review her stuff is to conclude her brain had only the one channel. Disgusting crap. Please, Barbara, go sit down way over there. Her ‘inspiration’ would have done incalculable harm, had God not intervened.

But enough of that. The good news is that in 1982, the world met some good tunes.

Continuing alphabetically as before, we begin with this one, which I always liked. Doesn’t it make you think of reading of souls, a gift some mystics have?

Eye in the Sky – Alan Parsons Project
(Lyrics: Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons)

Don’t think sorry’s easily said
Don’t try turning tables instead
You’ve taken lots of chances before
But I ain’t gonna give any more
Don’t ask me
That’s how it goes
‘Cause part of me knows what you’re thinking

Don’t say words you’re gonna regret
Don’t let the fire rush to your head
I’ve heard the accusation before
And I ain’t gonna take any more
Believe me
The sun in your eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that

I can read your mind (Looking at you)
I can read your mind (Looking at you)
I can read your mind (Looking at you)
I can read your mind

Don’t leave false illusions behind
Don’t cry
I ain’t changing my mind
So find another fool like before
‘Cause I ain’t gonna live anymore believing
Some of the lies while all of the signs are deceiving

I am the eye in the sky . . .

I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)
(Lyrics: Daryl Hall, John Oates & Janna Allen)

Easy, ready, willing, overtime
Where does it stop
Where do you dare me
To draw the line
You’ve got the body
Now you want my soul
Don’t even think about it
Say, no go

Yeah, I’ll do anything
That you want me to do
Yeah, I’ll do almost anything
That you want me too, ooh
Yeah

But I can’t go for that, no
No can do
I can’t go for that, no
No can do
I can’t go for that, no
No can do
I can’t go for that

Can’t go for that
Can’t go for that
Can’t go for that

I can go for being twice as nice
I can go for just repeating
The same old lines
Use the body
Now you want my soul
Ooh, forget about it
Now say, no go

Yeah, I ‘ll do anything
That you want me to do
Yeah, I’ll do almost anything
That you want me too, ooh
Yeah

But I can’t go for that, no . . .

Maneater — Hall & Oates
(Lyrics: Sara Allen, Daryl Hall, John Oates)

She’ll only come out at night
The lean and hungry type
Nothing is new
I’ve seen her here before
Watching and waiting
Ooh, she’s sittin’ with you
But her eyes are on the door

So many have paid to see
What you think
You’re gettin’ for free
The woman is wild
A she-cat tamed
By the purr of a jaguar
Money’s the matter
If you’re in it for love
You ain’t gonna get too far

(Whoa-oh, here she comes)
Watch out boy
She’ll chew you up
(whoa-oh, here she comes)
She’s a maneater
(whoa-oh, here she comes)
Watch out boy
She’ll chew you up
(whoa-oh, here she comes)
She’s a maneater

I wouldn’t if I were you
I know what she can do
She’s deadly, man
And she could really rip your world apart
Mind over matter
The beauty is there
But a beast is in her heart

(Oh-oh, here she comes)
Watch out boy
She’ll chew you up
(Oh-oh, here she comes)
She’s a maneater
(whoa-oh, here she comes)
Watch out boy
She’ll chew you up
(whoa-oh, here she comes)
She’s a maneater . . .

Private Eyes — Hall & Oates
(Lyrics: Daryl Hall, Warren Pash, Sara Allen, Janna Allen)

I see you, you see me
Watch you blowin’ the lines
When you’re making a scene
Oh girl, you’ve got to know
What my head overlooks
The senses will show to my heart
When it’s watching for lies
You can’t escape my

Private eyes
They’re watching you
They see your every move
Private eyes
They’re watching you
Private eyes
They’re watching you
Watching you
Watching you
Watching you

You play with words
You play with love
You can twist it around, baby
That ain’t enough
‘Cause girl
I’m gonna know
If you’re letting me in
Or letting me go
Don’t lie
When you’re hurting inside
‘Cause you can’t escape my

Private eyes
They’re watching you
They see your every move, baby

Private eyes
They’re watching you
Private eyes
They’re watching you
Watching you
Watching you
Watching you

Why you try to put up a front for me
I’m a spy but on your side, you see
Slip on into any disguise
I’ll still know you
Look into my

Private eyes
They’re watching you
They see your every move
Oh, babe,

Private eyes
They’re watching you
Private eyes
They’re watching you . . .

Oh I see you
Oh I see you

Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
(Lyrics: Steve Perry, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain)

Just a small town girl
Livin’ in a lonely world
She took the midnight train
Goin’ anywhere

Just a city boy
Born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train
Goin’ anywhere

A singer in a smoky room
The smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on, and on, and on

Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching
In the night
Streetlight people
Livin’ just to find emotion
Hidin’ somewhere in the night

Workin’ hard to get my fill
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin’ anything to roll the dice
Just one more time
Some will win
Some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on, and on, and on

Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching
In the night
Streetlight people
Livin’ just to find emotion
Hidin’ somewhere in the night

Don’t stop believin’
Hold onto that feelin’
Streetlight people
Don’t stop believin’
Hold on
Streetlight people
Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to that feelin’
Streetlight people

Open Arms – Journey
(Lyrics: Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain)

Lying beside you here in the dark
Feeling your heart beat with mine
Softly you whisper; you’re so sincere
How could our love be so blind

We sailed on together
We’ve drifted apart
And here you are by my side

So now I come to you with open arms
Nothing to hide, believe what I say
So here I am with open arms
Hoping you’ll see what your love means to me
Open arms

Living without you, living alone
This empty house seems so cold
Wanting to hold you, wanting you near
How much I wanted you home
But now that you’ve come back
Turned night into day
I need you to stay

So now I come to you, with open arms
Nothing to hide
Believe what I say
So here I am, with open arms
Hoping you’ll see what your love means to me
Open arms

Who Can it Be Now? – Men At Work
(Lyrics: Colin James Hay)

Who can it be knocking at my door?
Go ‘way, don’t come ’round here no more.
Can’t you see that it’s late at night?
I’m very tired, and I’m not feeling right.

All I wish is to be alone;
Stay away, don’t you invade my home.
Best off if you hang outside,
Don’t come in, I’ll only run and hide.

Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?

Who can it be knocking at my door?
Make no sound, tip-toe across the floor.
If he hears, he’ll knock all day,
I’ll be trapped, and here I’ll have to stay.

I’ve done no harm, I keep to myself;
There’s nothing wrong with my state of mental health.
I like it here with my childhood friend;
Here they come, those feelings again!

Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?

Is it the man come to take me away?
Why do they follow me?
It’s not the future that I can see,
It’s just my fantasy

Who can it be now?

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
(Lyrics: Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik)

Rising up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

So many times it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger

Face to face, out in the heat
Hanging tough, staying hungry
They stack the odds still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger

Rising up, straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger

The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger
The eye of the tiger

Post 187

Until

I never questioned his love for me
Even though
He never said the words
That people say

Of course not; why would I?
He’d buy me a Coke and a Skor bar
We’d go for walks
Wearing our business suits

Of course not; why would I?
He’d buy me a satay noodle soup
We’d drive in together
Wearing our business suits

I never questioned his love for me
Even though
He never said the words
That people say

Of course not; why would I?
He changed the oil in my car
He changed the tires on my van
He replaced the screen in my window
He replaced the filter in my furnace
He walked the dog around the block
He wound up the clock
He shined up my shoes

Of course not; why would I?
He listened to my stories
He gave me advice
He asked for advice
I listened to his stories
He read what I wrote
I read what he wrote

One time, he bought me a typewriter.
I used it a lot.

One time, he bought me roller skates.
I used them a little.

One time, he bought me a necklace from Mappins –
Blue topaz, surrounded with gold.
I cried when I lost it.
I cried and I cried.
It was the nicest thing I had owned in my life
Until then.

I dug in behind the back seat of the car
Maybe it was there?
What kind of car was it back then?
I think it was a 1970 Folkswagon,
Not the rusting icky-orange Corolla
The blue Chevy Impala
Or the little red Lada

That caught on fire
That time

(He put it out with his foot.)

I remember that time
We got trapped in the car wash
The doors wouldn’t open

Would we be there
Forever?

Oh well,
At least I wouldn’t be left alone

I never questioned his love for me
Even though
He never said the words
That people say

I remember the time
Everything went wrong
With that cute boy in school
I knew I could confide

I remember the time
Everything went wrong
With that other cute boy in school
I knew I could confide

I remember the time
Everything went wrong
With that man
He waited outside
While I finished the call

Man, that one was bad.

But I lived.
(I hear he didn’t, but I don’t know for sure.)

I remember the times
Everything went wrong
With Laeonie in school
Time after time
She hated me so
But I knew I was loved
Inside and out
Even though

He never said the words
That people say

Essay after essay
Written and corrected
Multiplication
Division
Addition and subtraction
I knew he was
There in my corner

Teachers and profs
Incompetent or mean
We’d take them on
I knew he was
There in my corner

Former-model lawyers
Barbie down the hall
Iaian and Iaian and Iaian again
We’d take them on
I knew he was
There in my corner

Stand back Sting-Ray
I knew
At the end of the day
He was
There in my corner

Tell me
What does it matter
To know
Someone
Has your back?

What does it mean
To know
Someone would never
Stab you like that?

It means
Everything

It means
That you know
It doesn’t matter that

He never said the words
That people say

It’s okay

You don’t mind
You don’t question
You don’t wonder

Of course not; why would I?

Call me crazy
Call me absurd
Call me ugly swollen and slurred

It’s okay

I guess those are the words
That some people say

Post 186
To Софія

Notebook

Це моя кімната.
Вона світла, бо тут є велике вікно.
А ось мої вазони.
Поряд є стіл і стілець.
А ось мій комп’ютер.
А це моя лампа.
А це книжкові палиці.
Тут є книжки.
А ось шафа.
А це моє ліжко.
А тут моя картина – я намалювала сама.
А яка твоя кімната?

Це твій стіл?
Так, це мій стіл.
Це твоі книги?
Ні, це не мої книги.

Ліжко, вікно, стіл і стілець, вазон, книжки, шафа, картина, підлога
і стіна: моя кімната.

Мама, Тато, Донька, Син, Сестра, Брат, Чоловік і Дружина.
Дідусь, Бабуся, Онучка і Онук.

Один, два, три, чотири, п’ять, шість, сім, вісім, дев’ять, десять.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
ОДИН
ДВА
ТРИ
ЧОТИРИ
П’ЯТЬ
ШІСТЬ
СІМ
ВІСІМ
ДЕВ’ЯТЬ
ДЕСЯТЬ
Post 185

Another One Bites the Dust
And Other Inspired Songs from 1981

Soon after I made it public that I was listening to music from the 80s and 90s, I got a stack of CDs as a gift. I still haven’t finished going through them, but I’ve also gone online, in an attempt to be systematic about this. I’m looking at Billboard’s year-end top hits.

I started with 100 songs from 1981, looking at the lyrics for all of them. I listened to most of them again too. It was really quite enjoyable, and sometimes it was hilarious. Listening to Don Maclean singing “Crying” was SO funny!

A lot of the lyrics were quite problematic, but I didn’t take notes, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Yeah – they were pretty bad.

I was looking for inspired songs released that year, and I’ve found a handful. I write the good ones in alphabetical order by performer (using first names):

1. Christopher Cross: Arthur’s Theme
2. Joey Scarbury: Believe it or Not
3. John Lennon: Watching the Wheels
4. Queen: Another One Bites the Dust

Arthur’s Theme – Christopher Cross
(Lyrics: Christopher Cross, Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen)

Once in your life you find her
Someone that turns your heart around
And next thing you know you’re closing down the town
Wake up and it’s still with you
Even though you left her way across town
Wondering to yourself, “Hey, what’ve I found?”

When you get caught between the moon and New York City
I know it’s crazy, but it’s true
If you get caught between the moon and New York City
The best that you can do,
The best that you can do is fall in love

Arthur he does as he pleases
All of his life, he’s mastered choice
Deep in his heart, he’s just — he’s just a boy
Living his life one day at a time
And showing himself a really good time
Laughing about the way they want him to be

When you get caught between the moon and New York City
I know it’s crazy, but it’s true
If you get caught between the moon and New York City
The best that you can do
The best that you can do is fall in love . . .

Believe it or Not – Joe Scarbury
(Lyrics: Stephen Geyer)

Look at what’s happened to me
I can’t believe it myself
Suddenly I’m up on top of the world
It should have been somebody else

Believe it or not, I’m walkin’ on air
I never thought I could feel so free
Flyin’ away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it’s just me

Just like the light of a new day
It hit me from out of the blue
Breaking me out of the spell I was in
Making all of my wishes come true

Believe it or not, I’m walkin’ on air
I never thought I could feel so free
Flyin’ away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it’s just me

This is too good to be true
Look at me falling for you

Believe it or not,
Believe it or not,
Believe it or not,

Believe it or not, I’m walkin’ on air
I never thought I could feel so free
Flyin’ away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it’s just me . . .

Watching the Wheels – John Lennon
(Lyrics: John Lennon)

People say I’m crazy
Doin’ what I’m doin’
Well they give me all kinds of warnings
To save me from ruin

When I say that I’m okay, well
They look at me kind of strange
Surely you’re not happy now
You no longer play the game

People say I’m lazy
Dreamin’ my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice
Designed to enlighten me

When I tell them I’m doing fine
Watching shadows on the wall
“Don’t you miss the big time boy?
You’re no longer on the ball”

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go ’round and ’round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

People asking questions – lost in confusion
Well I tell them there’s no problem – only solutions
Well they shake their heads and they look at me
As if I’ve lost my mind
I tell them there’s no hurry
I’m just sitting here doing time

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go ’round and ’round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go

Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
(Lyrics: John Richard Deacon)

Steve walks warily down the street
With his brim pulled way down low
Ain’t no sound but the sound of his feet
Machine guns ready to go

Are you ready? Hey are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat, yeah

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey – I’m gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

How do you think I’m going to get along
Without you when you’re gone?
You took me for everything that I had
And kicked me out on my own

Are you happy? Are you satisfied?
How long can you stand the heat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat look out

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey – I’m gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

Hey!
Oh take it
Bite the dust
Bite the dust
Hey – another one bites the dust

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
Shoot out

There are plenty of ways that you can hurt a man
And bring him to the ground
You can beat him
You can cheat him
You can treat him bad and leave him
When he’s down

But I’m ready
Yes I’m ready for you
I’m standing on my own two feet
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
Repeating to the sound of the beat

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone and another one gone
Another one bites the dust, yeah

Hey – I’m gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust
Shoot out

Post 184

Scat Cat!
Reflections on Politeness Versus Intention

On Friday, a group of university students stood near where I was sitting and began talking to each other.

One student showed her phone and said to the others, “Look, here’s my son.”

She was referring to her cat.

The others immediately exclaimed, as if on cue, “Oh! He’s so cute!” “Oh, so adorable!!!” It went something like that.

And so I begin my post.

How much do you want to bet that the other girls were lying?
How much do you want to bet that they were just playing up to the cat owner (let’s call her Catatonica)?

I’ll bet you a million dollars.

A meel-yun loonies. Five hundred thousand toonies.

Yeah.

(Math: check.)

(This is an interdisciplinary post, folks.)

Do you REALLY think that they found this cat adorable?
Do you REALLY think that they thought he was so very cute?

I don’t think so.

In the first place, cats do not easily look cute. The cat family, as a whole, does not easily look cute. The feline ‘look’ is more about poise and precision and smooth moves and smooth lines. You could say the cat is about elegance and exactness and efficiency. The cat keeps herself clean and buries anything that would suggest she’s merely a creature. A cat even falls without missing a beat; twisting and flipping, she lands on her feet. Amazing and arguably worthy of admiration, but most certainly, not ‘cute.’

Not even close.

A kitten can be cute, but a cat cannot.

The only people who find cats to be cute are owners of cats. The cat owner has seen the cat in numerous situations and predicaments, and some of them were humorous. The cat owner has, to a greater or lesser extent, bonded with the cat and has developed some level of sympathy and empathy towards it. Depending on the closeness of this bond, the cat owner begins to identify with the cat, projecting many human attributes, thoughts and feelings onto the miniscule brain of this twelve pound animal.

I once shared a home with a cat, and I liked having it around. She came and went as she pleased, and one day, she didn’t return. That was sad, but that’s life. Sometimes those in your life go away and don’t come back. It’s okay. Don’t stress yourself out trying to hang onto someone who’d rather chase diseased mice under the neighbour’s rear deck.

So it’s not surprising that the owner of a cat would show a photo to someone else, thinking that her cat is incredible.

That’s what she thinks.

She really believes that her cat is Quite Special and Worthy of World Fame.

Ah yes.

And so she takes a photo. Then she takes another one. And another one. Here’s the cat from this angle, and here’s the cat from another.

To her, it’s just Cuteness From Every Side.

But you see, there is a problem.

The problem is the eyes.

The eyes of a cat contain a pupil that is almost never round. Our pupils change from being a larger circle to being a smaller one. A cat’s eyes, however, do not operate this way. A cat’s pupil begins as a circle (in very low light conditions) but gets narrower and narrower, until it is just a teeny little sliver.

The technical name for this pointed oval shape is vesica piscis, which literally means ‘fish bladder.’

Visualize two circles, one overlapping onto the other, the way Venn’s diagrams are often shown. That space in the middle is what the cat’s pupil looks like. It can be wider or so extremely narrow that it looks almost like a vertical line. But it’s not — it’s an oval which is pointed on the top and the bottom.

And there you have it – the eye is almost a symbol of the cat itself. Not roly-poly, but razor sharp at both ends, when you happen to look closer. A contented cat will knead its pointy curved claws into your flesh as it purrs. Endearing, hey?

This is why cat photographs will be low on cuteness. The photograph itself may be quite stunning, but it won’t be because the cat is cute. (In order to do cute, the eyes are critical. Big round eyes are an essential ingredient, as you and I and all the modern illustrators and toy manufacturers know.)

Mind you, great efforts are made by photographers and cat owners to present various cats as convincingly lovable. But it’s not easy. A common approach is to put furball into a costume or pose it with some apparatus. See if you can hold the cat down long enough to add an apron and a chef’s hat! Here’s a mixing bowl, some flour and a rolling pin – maybe now you’ve managed it. Bait the cat with some fish treats mixed with cupcake batter and look kitty look kitty here we go now look at the camera and almost and please and don’t get distracted and there I think we’ve got it and whew, let’s hope we’re done.

Now pour yourself some rum.

We both know you need it. (Yeah, ya ‘need’ it.)

Either that or just open the back door when you’re done. There’s relief. Kitty just might go for a stroll and not leave a forwarding address.

(Take your fish bladder eyes and beat it, baby!)

Ha ha. I guess I digress.

But to digress further, lately I was studying the lines to ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ the hit single from 1982. The initial plan, according to Jim Peterik, one of the co-writers of the song, was to name the song ‘Survival.’ Although I appreciate the poetry of the name ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ it would have been better if they had stuck to the original inspiration. I know that you protest, since it’s been so many years and you’re so used to the current name, but I’m right, as usual.

The way they’ve got it now, the listener tends to think of Tigger as the hero of the story. It’s confusing. The strong beat and the refrain work together so well that the listener gets swept up into the imagery, and thinks rather well of Tigger’s eyes. But this big cat is not the hero and neither are his slitty eyes. The man is the hero. He’s the survivor. He’s the one “rising up to the challenge of our rival.” (“Just a man and his will to survive …”) If they had kept the title the way they had planned, this essential aspect of celebrating the hero (the human) would have been preserved.

Ah well.

They didn’t ask me.

And to return to the students whom I overheard chatting, they didn’t ask me either. Catatonica didn’t ask ME whether I thought her ‘son’ was cute.

And that’s another thing. I really dislike it when people refer to their pets as their children. It’s done too often and it’s neither original nor amusing. A man calls his two dogs his “boys.” A woman calls her cat her “baby.”

Stop it. It’s not endearing and it’s not clever. It’s confusing and it sounds like you have your priorities entirely out of kilter. If you love your pet to that extent, please, just keep it to yourself. Go back in the closet and take the cat with you. And hey, don’t forget your kitty litter.

Man.

Click.

That’s better.

Where was I?

Ah yes. This is, believe it or not, a post about politeness.

That’s where I was going with this.

You see, the thing is that the people who were listening to Catatonica were giving the response that they knew Catatonica wanted to hear. They knew that the expected response to a photo of a pet shown by a female acquaintance or friend is one of Gushing Overflowing Praise and Fascination.

So that’s what I heard: exclamations of amazement, as if they’d never seen a domestic feline before. They gave Catatonica precisely what she wanted. They cooed on cue.

Yet if you showed these responders a line-up of forty-nine cats, would they single out Catatonica’s pet as being notably better? I bet her cat looked pretty much like, um, a cat. No better, no worse.

And so, at best, this cat looked as cute as cats do. And, as I have said, I don’t think that’s particularly cute. I suspect it was a rather ordinary cat. Most are.

Mind you, I didn’t see the photo. Maybe I’m wrong. Hey, as a matter of fact, that gives me an idea. The next time I see Catatonica, maybe I’ll ask if she could show me a photo of her son.

She’d probably look at me like I were crazy.

She’d say, “Son? I don’t have a son.”

Then I’d say, “You know, your cat.”

Man. This is so absurd.

But anyway, my point is that there is an unfortunate tendency for those who wish to be social to say whatever they think is needed (‘needed’) in the moment.

The intention has about three parts here:

Short term: I will tell a lie (it doesn’t really matter what I say).
Medium term: I will make this person happy.
Long term: I can hang out with her until I find someone better – someone who doesn’t show me photos of her pet(s) on her phone.

The thing is that all parts of the intention should be good. It is not okay to have a bad short-term goal with the excuse that it will bring you closer to a decent (‘nice’) medium-term goal. The end does not justify the means, as you know.

You cannot use the excuse of politeness or friendliness to justify telling untruths. It’s not right.

If the photo of the cat doesn’t thrill you, it’s okay to say so. It’s okay to say, “I’m not into cats, actually.” Or it’s okay to say, “Hey! I have a cat too (and it’s way better looking than yours)!” And from there, you have numerous friendly but non-lying options. You can ask her what her cat’s name is, or how old it is, or where she got it. You can comment on her photography or the props in the pic. You can plan a play-date for your cat and hers. Go wild.

There are many choices, is my point. Your reply can be direct or distracting, but keep it honest. You don’t have to lay it on thick and act as if you’ve never seen a mammal before in your life.

You see, the problem is lying. Nowadays, we think that the ultimate sin is rudeness, but this is not the worst thing. As a matter of fact, it may not even be a sin at all.

Lying, however, is a sin.

It’s really quite simple.

The devil is called “the father of lies.”

He is not called “the father of bad manners.” He is not called “the father of rudeness.” Satan is the father of lies. Lies are bad and they mess with your soul.

Consider how Jesus spoke to the deceptive and hypocritical Pharisees. Did he speak politely and coo convincingly when they showed him pictures of their pet rooster(s)?

No, he did not.

He told the Pharisees that they were vipers, because they were.

He told them they were like grave-beds, looking white and immaculate on the outside while they were in fact rotting and disgusting on the inside. He said this because they were.

Was it ‘rude’?

I suppose.

But the thing is, it was true.

And don’t you find it quite interesting that his attacks weren’t levelled against those who were viewed as obviously ‘bad’ in his day?

I do.

I find it interesting and worthy of note that the folks who were deserving of direct confrontation were the ones who were viewed as obviously ‘good.’ The self-righteous folks got the worst of it.

And the situation is the same today.

We associate goodness with those who are experts at satisfying all the social demands of politeness, whether they belong to the local pro-life group or whether they belong to the Entirely Eco group. These well-mannered folks get the prize of being Respectable, Thoughtful and Kind.

Ah! We’re so blind!

The truth is that Jesus didn’t call us to be polite. He didn’t call us to remember to raise our pinky when we sipped our afternoon tea. He didn’t give up his life to show us how to Talk Nice.

Hell no!

Afternoon tea and Etiquette 101 weren’t even on his radar. As a matter of fact, all the rituals related to eating and drinking were largely dismissed. Haven’t you read about how he was questioned because his disciples didn’t wash their hands? Ah, it sure made the snobby folks mad! Those in the Know became brazen in their attacks, kind of like JHW when he challenges the Pope.

But Jesus’ apostles learned not to bow to all the little rules about hygiene and decorum. They knew, from their Master, that it wasn’t about ceremonials and rituals and external observances of this kind and that.

It was about following Christ, not about following conventions.

Christ was never about false politeness or social standards. His friends and his enemies noted that he didn’t treat people according to their positions. This is not to say that Jesus was ignorant about the practices of the time. He was familiar with them — he even gave advice about how to behave when invited as a guest (don’t take the best seat). If he’d wanted to, he could’ve written a book about How to Make Friends and Socialize.

But he didn’t.

And here, I might as well interject that I do not say that politeness itself is wrong. It can be beautiful, provided that it is genuine, and not a means of carrying out a deception. It can be a lovely and an almost-unconscious expression of meekness and goodness, but far too often, etiquette, politeness and ‘good manners’ are used and exploited by those who want to manufacture a counterfeit version of holiness or goodness. On the outside, you will find a soft voice, gosh-golly words and plenty of smiles, accented with tears. On the inside, you will find plotting, scheming and malevolence. Indeed, all you need to do is pierce the thin crust of award-winning delicacy and decorum (a couple of emails should do it) in order to find foul lava swirling relentlessly underneath. They lash out and you see the truth.

Yikes.

But I return to my point and I repeat – Jesus was not shackled by society’s expectations. He knew what they were, yet he shattered them, as needed.

He said what needed to be said. He did what needed to be done. He was different, and his intentions went something like this:

Short-term: Say what is true (it matters greatly what is said by you).

Medium-term: The wrongdoer will either change or be warned. The innocent will learn that evil disguises itself as goodness, and that evil should be confronted and challenged.

Long-term: The innocent will be strengthened and confirmed in their actions and will benefit on earth and in heaven. The wrongdoer shall pay the price for his evil intentions both before and after death.

Unfortunately, the average person’s short, medium and long-term goals are not quite so admirable. The average person’s goals are too often woefully foolish, focusing on personal advantage, even at the expense of others.

Self-examination is discarded in favour of self-promotion.

Consideration of spiritual issues is discarded in favour of consideration of superficial issues.

Discussion of meaningful topics is discarded in favour of discussion about insignificant topics.

It’s too bad, but this is how it is, too often.

Don’t complain that I say it. Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation spoke eloquently about the humility of the truth. Sometimes things aren’t good, and we might as well admit it.

But in the current climate, where the superficial obscures the meaningful, it is considered in bad taste to denounce what is wrong. It is viewed as preferable to pretend that all is well, and that the cat is cute.

And in such a climate, it is barely possible to complain that a person cannot complain — that would be a little too close to honest discussion.

What a pickle.

It’s unfortunate. ‘Good manners’ mandates that we do not question each others’ words or actions. ‘Good manners’ becomes almost the standard for judging the worthiness of others, and if you can accuse someone of rudeness, or of having a tone A Little Bit Harsh, then you’ll be proud the discussion is done. You’ll be smug, thinking the game has been won.

Oh, how wrong!

Meet my buddy Jesus.

Have you heard of him? They’re talking about this guy all over town and hey – that video of him knocking over the tables in the temple has gone totally viral. I can’t believe you haven’t seen it!

Yeah, he’s a game changer, no doubt.

Look out.

And hey, he sent me a text — he wants me to tell you that if your style is to keep a smile on your face while you put a knife in a back, you’d better watch out …

He’s gonna turn the tables on you,

Soon.

Post 183

Showtime

Rhinoceros Rhinoceros
Once I wuz
A rhino on a plain
The sky was blue above my head and
The grass was green beneath my feet

Rhinoceros Rhinoceros
I wuz as happy as a clam
Except for the fact that I wuz
A rhino on a plain
Not a creature of the sea

The sun shone bright
The coast plain wuz clear
No end in sight
No limits, nope
No barbed wire here

Rhino Rhino
But then

I dunno

Something happened
I wuz no longer
A rhino on a plain

I became
A rhino on a plane
(Air Canada)

Cargo section

Someone shipped me
Third class
To
Somewhere else

I wuz “On Line”

Where am I?
I dunno

All I know is
I’m on display

Rhino Rhino
What do you say?

Rhino Rhino
How do you look?

Rhino Rhino
In a cage
On display

Let’s poke you here
Let’s poke you there

Oh what fun!
Oh what a show!

Rhino Rhino
Here we go!

Don’t worry folks
It’s alright
I know this Rhino
I know her type

Thick-skinned
Brainy and brash
Don’t feel shy now
She’s been bashed

Lots before

Don’t worry folks
It’s alright
Do what you like
It’s showtime

Yes folks
You heard right
Do what you like

Just make sure you don’t
Just make sure you don’t
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