Seatbelt Blues

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Makes me glad to be virginian [/sarcasm]

Via Bill Cork: Racial Troubles at UVa
My computer died today, and spent the day getting a new one.

And ended up very much neglecting God.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Via Amy Welborn: Excerpt from the Pope

Not only youth, but communities and their pastors also, should take note of a fact which is fundamental for evangelization: where God does not take first place, where he is not recognized and worshipped as the Supreme Good, human dignity is undermined. This is why it is urgent to lead mankind today to ‘discover’ the true face of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ. In this way, even mankind of our time will be able, as the Magi did, to prostrate themselves before him and worship him. As I talked to German bishops, I recalled that adoration is not ‘a luxury but a priority’. Searching for Christ must be the incessant craving of believers, of youth and adults, of the faithful and their pastors. This search should be encouraged, sustained and guided. Faith is not simply adherence to a set of dogmas complete in itself, which would suppress the thirst for God present in the human soul. On the contrary, it projects man on a journey in time towards a God who is always new in his infiniteness. So the Christian is at the same time one who seeks and one who finds. It is precisely this which makes the Church young, open to the future, rich in hope for all humanity.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Bush v Benedict

Another Great Article: Bush v Benedict. This one hits very close. I considered myself conservative until early-to-mid 2004, with the unflinching, unthinking support for the invasion of Iraq playing a major factor in that decision (another being the shameless commingling of God and country). Being against the war and calling one's self conservative is not a comfortable position to be in.

Return - Google Obsession

I return triumphantly, my voyage being somewhat delayed by toying with Google's delightful new sidebar and messenger. I really have an unhealthy obsession with all thing's Google. I have a happy new fixation through theunofficialgoogleblog. Here's to hoping for Google Music!

Meanwhile, the temperature here at 9:12 in the morning in Richmond Virginia is my absolute IDEAL - 68 degrees fahrenheit. Just at the right level that I don't even notice it. (Yeah, I'm wierd like that. Summer is always waaaaaaay too hot for me to seriously enjoy it.)

Good article to which I stole the link from Nouvelle Theologie: A Europe Neither Liberal Nor Christian? Warning: It's a PDF.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Id like to apologize for not posting in the past few days. Ive been busy with work - business has suddenly picked up with the influx of college students - and my graphic novel and other occupations. I should be back up to regular posting in the next couple of days.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Brother Roger

A Surprising Find

I stumble across the strangest music. My current infatuation is with Dengue Fever, a Los Angeles-based Cambodian Psychedelic Indie-Rock band. I can't begin to express how much I adore this sound. The band is largely American except for the singer, former Cambodian pop princess Chhon Nimol. Founded on two American guys' love of 1960's Cambodian rock music, Dengue Fever shows at least its American influences; I can hear some Jefferson Airplane in there, and maybe even a little Canned Heat. I'm sure that's just my American ear there, not being familiar with their Cambodian influences.

The music is fast and exciting, the vocals incredible (and almost entirely in Khmer, the language of Cambodia), and it's really quite addicting. It has some absolutely vintage organ in there, too. I think I can also hear a little jazz in there at times coming from the horns.

I can't descibe adequately enough how much I love this music.

Rampaging Materialism. Really.

Sad to admit that this happened in my hometown.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Killing the Buddha on the appearance of religion.

Monday, August 15, 2005

A Letter to Lauren Hoffman, reviewing her new album

Dear Lauren Hoffman

First off, let me thank you for sending me this beautiful album. While slightly disappointed by the packaging - I expected something more akin to the Lilas EP box - the music has yet to not blow me away (although I absolutely adored the art on the packaging - just the box threw me a little). Of course, as I've heard most of these songs before in different versions, I have a different kind of reaction than someone to whom these all are new.

The album, all in all, is fantastic. You seem to have this sort of cosmic hipster sound on this album, especially on "Another Song About the Darkness," which sounds almost like something off of the Smashing Pumpkins' Adore, dripping with this sort of late-90's electronica vibe. Then there's "Love Gone Wrong" which almost seems like a lost cut off of Megiddo, with that sort of electric elephant wail under "now like a flash.". I don't know - it kind of reminds me of something in between Megiddo and From the Blue House, and still sort of hearkens back to the Lilas. Of course, as you are so prone to do, you veer off into space by the time you "have to crawl out this hole" without the Lilas' keeping you grounded. But it works. It works really, really well.

Meanwhile, "Joshua" - which I didn't even recognize as a retitled "My Love" at first - has this brilliant torch song thing going on. Your French influences are showing; do you dig Edith Piaf any? I almost detect a little sober yeh-yeh in there - some Francoise Hardy, but maybe a little closer to modern followers Keren Ann or Carla Bruni.

Then the new "Out of the Sky, Into the Sea" combines the best of the Lucknow session with the Lilas cut. It has both the subtlety of your Indian demo and something of the force of the band's version. While it's definitely lacking in the accordian department - which is one of the things that made the Lucknow version a favorite song of mine, that accordian killed me - the hidden tambourine, mixed so low that it's almost a lost piece of ornamentation, made up for it a little, along with the twangy bass, and the brilliantly arranged strings. It sounds like this is how you always meant it to be heard. Too bad about the "uh uh uh UH!" I miss it.

Probably my biggest complaint is that "Mechanical" is nowhere to be found. Lyrically, I think you have yet to top that song, and the album may be lesser for its absence. Of course, that's like complaining that Abbey Road doesn't have "Hey Jude" on it (yes, I do rate you so highly), and while one could say it would improve the album, there's not very far to go. Choreography is a damn good album. Thanks for taking the time to give us some music.

Seatbelt Blue


Have you ever had a grand idea for a post, yet not the time to write it? And then, when you sat down to work, the lede had completely escaped you?

I stumbled across a couple of articles over at Busted Halo (which, by the way, is not a site I endorse) last night and had a very firm resolve to write on them today, as both related to today's Most Notable Solemnity. And yet, my strong ledes have flittered away like concert flyers after the show. Let's see what I can dig from them, though.

The first article - "Mary: Strong Role Model or Impossible Standard?" - in which the venerable staff of Busted Halo asks women how Mary is relevant to the "21st century female experience," whatever that is (never heard anyone mention "the male experience," though). The opinions on Mary range from sincere admiration to anger at her supposed role in denigrating women and sex. "My experience of her was always this really sad, doting, passive mother who has been glorified because of her virginity – another example of the Church making sex dirty and bad and women who have sex dirty," says one woman who has clearly never heard of Theology of the Body or has the vaguest idea as to the point of sex.

Another woman expresses doubts as to Mary's perpetual virginity, saying “This idea seems contrary to every bit of historical evidence about the Hebrew people I have read or heard. Why should we not hold open the possibility that Jesus' parents had other children after him? Who would care for them in their old age, especially as Jesus knew he would not be there?" I caught a red flag right there. This woman has been the victim of poor catechesis. She doesn't know that Christ entrusted the care of His Mother to St John. Her point really would be somewhat valid had it not been for a remarkably easy response.

Some of the respondants were more positive. One woman mentions how her own pregnancy connected her with Mary, and another extolls the virtues of the Rosary.

I had a point to this but I can't quite remember it.

The other article - "The Privilege of Being a Woman" - had some good content. Although it unfortunately presents some sound, decent thought through the guise of women's liberation, the author, a self-described liberal women's-ordinationist, found much to like in orthodox sexual theology.

She opens with an assessment of the prominent feminist Simone de Beauvoir’s perspective on gender that has been ingrained into our culture: women have been oppressed by men in mind and body. De Beauvoir rejects biology’s separation of the two sexes – women’s bodies exist to satisfy men’s cravings, therefore the intricacies of a woman’s body are nothing more than a tool of the male sex, only holding women back from being fully “liberated.” Von Hildebrand agues, however, that when it comes to our biology, women have much to be happy for. She uses the example of the Blessed Mother—whom I have always had a hard time relating--to point out the vast difference between passivity and receptivity. Mary was receptive, but far from being passive; saying “yes” requires thought, action, and a deep commitment. Consider that God chose Mary, a woman, to bear the savior of the world, and did not so much as include Joseph, a man, in the process, or even let him know what was happening. Mary contained within her something the whole world could not contain – Christ. Motherhood calls women to turn to the weak and helpless, and give completely to those in need of help. She says, only a few men are called to the priesthood, but nearly all women are inclined to motherhood. Women are blessed with having two souls within them when pregnant. Men are never allowed this honor.


... the author poses the compelling question: do we really think that the essence of woman can be fully understood and appreciated in a secular point of view; a point of view devoid of God
The answer is, of course, no. Nothing can be fully understood apart from God, let alone the mystery of the human person, or the being in the image and likeness of God, that grand mystery present in all people. Von Hildebrand's book, judging from the reviews, is a rejection of modern oppressionist feminism that equates sex with rape and strangely calls on women to be more like men.

Anyway, some varied offerings for the day.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I Return, Rested and Happy

Haven't posted in a few days because work has left me exhausted. But I've got the next few days off, so welcome back to Seatbelt Land!

I'm actually off to mass, but I intend to do a more substantial post today or tomorrow, re: Frederica Matthews-Greene's The Illumined Heart, which I recieved yesterday and finished today. Billing itself as a guide to the "Ancient Christian Path of Transformation," I think it deftly accomplishes what it sets out to do - provide an introduction to learning how to live in God, and I look forward to implementing some her suggestions.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Monday, 8/7c, on the Hallmark Channel: "The Man Who Would Be Pope: The Heroic True Story of Karol Wojtyla." I'll be watching that like it's an non-boiling pot; if you know me, you know just how much I dig John Paul II.

Bodanen Update

Work on the first chapter of Bodanen goes smoothly, if slowly. Erik's halfway through page two, which has taken a while, as he's devoted days to a beautiful rendering of the city of Imarad, where much of the story's action takes place.

I really am quite amazed at how brilliantly it's turning out.

Pray for us, friends, that Loyola picks this up. It's such a grand project!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Kathleen Parker at the Houston Chronicle:

"Thing" is used here neither dismissively nor derisively, but as a term of stunning accuracy. Throughout our culture, children have become objectified, "thingified," created or acquired for the fulfillment of our selves — decor options, accessories, cute little bundles for our entertainment and amusement.

Unless, of course, we're not in the mood, in which case we hit the "abort" button, the ultimate expression of "thingification."

Sic transit mundus.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Wouldn't that be something, eh?

David Brooks of the New York Times asks, "Are we living in a moral revival?"


Monday, August 08, 2005

Plugging Away

In addition to this blog, I also write an ongoing humor webcomic called Uber the Clown. It's pretty twisted and surreal and faintly absurdist (which is very ironic if you know my philosophical beliefs). But this week's strips is gold. Absolute gold. Myself and Erik - the artist - worked late into the night on it, and I just got it posted a minute ago.

So everyone go check it out here.

Evolving Evolution

Man, I just nearly choked on some Rice Crispies.

Anyway, it's 9 in the morning and I just woke up, and over at, they're running a story over Schonborn's essay on evolution. This is still news? Wasn't this played out a few weeks ago?

Still, ''I found it wasn't helpful in the sense that it muddied the waters," said the Rev. Donald Plocke, a Jesuit priest and biology professor at Boston College. ''In my estimation there is no reason to think there is a conflict between Catholic philosophy and the theory of evolution."
That all depends on which theory, and that's the part that everyone in the press is missing. Why is it so hard for people to understand that Catholicism, with its all-encompassing belief that the world was created deliberately by God and is imbued with meaning and purpose and God's glory in every micron of everything? Because if the world is "...charged with the grandeur of God..," then the random development of said world is impossible. Everyone likes to grab hold of John Paul the Great's 1996 "evolution is more than a theory" statement, and that may well be true. But Darwinian Selection is most assuredly not the method, and Catholicism has at no time accepted that it was.

I've read articles and essays recently that have the author freaking out that Catholicism is going to be come the next Southern Baptist Convention, demanding stickers on textbooks disclaiming evolution and defining Pi as just 3. I think they are seriously missing the point. We're not concerned with evolution per se as much as we are with the idea that humanity, which God has said He loves, was nothing more than an accident, and each of us is merely a chemical robot. A machine. My roommate just the other day said that humans are just incredibly sophisticated machines, and I had to ask - why do we always make the comparison to lessen man? Why do we never call a toaster "a simple organism?" Instead, men are machines, complex, organic machines.

No, that can't be.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Band for Every Letter

Some random fun-ness, just for the sake of doing it. Maybe you'll all dig my music.

A band for every letter, a letter for every band!

A - Either the Apples in Stero or the Avalanches. Maybe Astrud Gilberto?
B - Sigh. Beatles? Beach Boys? Ben Folds? Ben Harper? Blondie?
C - Cibo Matto, Cake, or Counting Crows.
D - Daft Punk, Deep Blue Something, the Donnas.
E - I'll say the Eyeliners.
F - The Flaming Lips.
G - Not a G in the mix.
H - Heart.
I - Nor an I.
J - Janis Joplin or Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
K - Kelly Bell Band.
L - The Lilas, Lauren Hoffman (new album out!)
M - Matisyahu
N - Norah Jones
O - Oasis
P - The Polyphonic Spree, Pinback, Patti Smith.
Q - Queen
R - Rufus Wainwright
S - The Seatbelts, the Smashing Pumpkins, Sigur Ros
T - Tahiti 80
U - Nothing here.
V - The Vince Guaraldi Trio.
W - The White Stripes, Weezer
X - Nada.
Y - Yann Tiersen (I have Le Phare and the Amelie soundtrack; both are incredibly chill)
Z - Zwan (Mary Star of the Sea is a great album)


Come on. Somebody link to me.

Nobody reads this, do they?

"My God, what have we done?"

Father George Zabelka, a Roman Catholic chaplain with the United States Air Force, served as a priest for the airmen who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and gave them his blessing.

Days later he counselled an airman who had flown a low-level reconnaissance flight over the city of Nagasaki shortly after the detonation of "Fat Man".

The man described how thousands of scorched, twisted bodies writhed on the ground in the final throes of death, while those still on their feet wandered aimlessly in shock — flesh seared, melted, and falling off.

The crewman’s description raised a stifled cry from the depths of Zabelka’s soul: "My God, what have we done?"

Over the next 20 years, he gradually came to believe that he had been terribly wrong, that he had denied the very foundations of his faith by lending moral and religious support to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Zabelka died in 1992, but his message, in this article excerpted from a speech he gave at a Pax Christi conference in August 1984 on the 40th anniversary of the bombings, must never be forgotten.

Where Sin Abounds

How great is our God!

Without sin, there is no death, and there is no need for Christ. A sinless world would be lesser than a world needing redemption, as a sinless world is a world forever bound up within itself. It has no need for redemption, and so the Son sits in Heaven, having no need to come down. There is no incarnation, no "God-with-us," and we never know God's mercy, for He has never had to show it. A sinless world is, in fact, a lesser creation (it must be, or else God would have made a world where there could never be sin).

Sin allowed God to show His fulness - his love, mercy, compassion. He loves his disobedient and wicked children; He loves those who do not deserve love. How much more compelling is that than a perfect world of perfect people, who know God loves them, and are fully aware how very much they deserve it? Saint Paul was right - where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. God turns an evil into a good. So, that first act of disobedience, the rebellion of Satan against God, and his temptation and seduction of the first people, all fit masterfully in God's ultimate plan of self-revelation. God created a world that He would have to nurse to health because He is a merciful God, and anything else would fail to allow Him to truly reveal that aspect of Himself.

God created the world so that He could reveal His love and His glory - how perfect, then, that our sinful world provides Him ample oppurtunity! If the world had been created incapable of sin, the Lord would never have had need to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to show us the absolute and final extent of that love, and lacking that redemption, immortal man would be eternally confined to the earth, never knowing the brilliance of Heaven or the mystery of direct union with God.

The human story has been a sad and sorry one, full of deceit and treachery and murder and suffering; war and death, fear and loathing. The miserable drama of humanity is tied to the story of Gospel, where God has slowing been bringing about what we had in the beginning - a perfect world - through self-giving love and sacrifice, brilliantly revealing His divine self in the process, until eventually, once, through the new covenant, we are bound up with God and go to heaven, we might truly encounter His fullness. A sinless world is a world with a lesser knowledge of God.

What splendid paradox! Death through life, perfection through imperfection! We sin, not just because we have free will, but because if we did not, God would be unable to do the many things He has done! He knew it all before He created the world, that a perfect world is no world at all, and that He would do better by His people to allow sin into the world. Where sin abounds grace abounds all the more!

A sinless world is a world without grace, and that's a world I could never love.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Dancing the Transfiguration

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration, and I want to do some kind of substantive post, so I think I'm just gonna start typing and see what comes out.

I've always found the Transfiguration bothing compelling and haunting. The disciples, seriously, must have had their minds blown, as before them was revealed, in all His light-besotted glory, this strange and unexpected king. They must have felt themselves quite drunk on the light, low-headed and tipsy, made dizzy by darts of light that dazzle and flash all around more intense than a Studio 54 show, a sacred disco of smoke and sound. They must have stood there waiting for Christ to skip off the stage and go back to the Great Gig in the Sky, and instead they saw some kind of fabulous Trinity, that mad revelation of God's one-ness and three-ness and brilliance and shine. The sun peaked high and the Son piqued interest and the Law and the Prophets slid down, skipped down and worshipped the Son and the voice boomed and the clouds spread and the whole of the free-radical Three-Radical stood or rather floated above the disciples who spun like vertigo and couldn't even begin to get it.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fear and Loathing in Calcutta

Via Godspy, for Steph:

We learned, too, that for nearly fifty years following those initial visions and locutions, Mother Teresa's prayer life was one of dark, pitiless silence. She lived her entire public life—all that time we saw her smiling and talking about joy—panicked that God had rejected her, or worse, that he was out there in the dark hiding from her.


"In the darkness... Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me?.. I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer... Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul... I am told God lives in me—and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul."

Franklin Christ

Via Nouvelle Theologie:

"Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that 'God helps those who help themselves.' That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor."
- Author Bill McKibben, in his Harper's magazine essay, "The Christian Paradox"

It really is amazing, isn't it? That so many think the Bible teaches this ultra-Individualism, an almost Neitschean idea that the self is the first priority. Does it not stand that it should say "God helps those who help others?" or "God helps those to cleave to Him in both love and trust?"

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sin is the wool that has been pulled over your eyes.

This is grand. What else can I say? It captures my love of the Matrix with my love of the Church, and is a grand lampooning of Neo's whole priest getup in Reloaded.


Dear friends, pray for my friend Alex. She may be in some serious trouble.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


O Eternal Trinity

O Eternal God! O Eternal Trinity! Through the union of Thy divine nature Thou hast made so precious the Blood of Thine only-begotten Son! O eternal Trinity, Thou art as deep a mystery as the sea, in whom the more I seek, the more I find; and the more I find, the more I seek. For even immersed in the depths of Thee, my soul is never satisfied, always famished and hungering for Thee, eternal Trinity, wishing and desiring to see Thee, the True Light.

O eternal Trinity, with the light of understanding I have tasted and seen the depths of Thy mystery and the beauty of Thy creation. In seeing myself in Thee, I have seen that I will become like Thee. O eternal Father, from Thy power and Thy wisdom clearly Thou hast given to me a share of that wisdom which belongs to Thine Only-begotten Son. And truly hast the Holy Spirit, who procedeth from Thee, Father and Son, given to me the desire to love Thee.

O eternal Trinity, Thou art my maker and I am Thy creation. Illuminated by Thee, I have learned that Thou hast made me a new creation through the Blood of Thine Only-begotten Son because Thou art captivated by love at the beauty of Thy creation.

O eternal Trinity, O Divinity, O unfathomable abyss, O deepest sea, what greater gift could Thou givest me then Thy very Self? Thou art a fire that burns eternally yet never consumed, a fire that consumes with Thy heat my self-love. Again and again Thou art the fire who taketh away all cold heartedness and illuminateth the mind by Thy light, the light with which Thou hast made me to know Thy truth.

By this mirrored light I know Thou are the highest good, a good above all good, a fortunate good, an incomprehensible good, an unmeasurable good, a beauty above all beauty, a wisdom above all wisdom, for Thou art wisdom itself, the food of angels, the fire of love that Thou givest to man.

Thou art the garment covering our nakedness. Thou feedest our family with Thy sweetness, a sweetness Thou art from which there is no trace of bitterness. O Eternal Trinity! Amen.

St Catherine of Siena

Transciption Errors

From Cosmos, Liturgy, Sex:

This amazing finding correlates very well with John Paul the Great’s anthropology. This is how it would work. The unity of body and soul (called hylomorphism which comes from Aristotle through St. Thomas Aquinas) is such that the soul gives the body its shape. The body expresses the soul and is the mechanism by which the soul interacts with the world. But physical changes to the body also then necessarily modify the soul in some way (since the soul gives shape to the body). It is a two way street. So when a baby or young child is affected by the environment in some way; this affect can permanently change the child; this is especially true with nurturing the child. A young child must be loved and nurtured. If it is not, the affect is more than just psychological; it affects the way the genes transcribe themselves and so the effects can be passed on to its children. In other words, the environment can permanently modify the soul in such a way that it seems the soul records this change via the DNA. Thus nurture changes nature. One ramification: even if a so called “gay” gene is ever found one still cannot eliminate the possibility that it was a mistranscription due to a defective nurturing environment.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Saddam's Fate

He's going to be executed in a few weeks.

He may have been a tyrant and a murderer, but, in the words of Gul Darhe'el in DS9's "Duet" (13 June 1993), "Don't you see? I've already won! Kill me if you must; nothing will be changed! Nobody can undo what I have done! The dead will still be dead!"

(lord, have mercy on everyone)

August 2005

Caught Wonka last night. I'd love to be able to go in depth about that movie, but on my first viewing, I'm pretty sure it's just a fun piece of summer fluff.

Not having much else to blog about today (especially because I'm hitting work from 4-11 tonight; how I long for those days I got nice, easy three hour shifts!), I'll just ask - does anybody know what's up with the Revealer? It was supposed to start back up a week ago.

Anyway, happy august! Summer comes to a blissfully-near end.

(i hate summer)