Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cited in Usus Antiquior

Renegade Trads has officially received a mention in the academic liturgical journal Usus Antiquior!

I consider this quite an honor. It can never be a bad thing when our "movement's" profile is raised even just a little bit through mention in "mainline" traditionalist and/or Catholic venues. Bit by bit, the renegades are becoming part of the landscape, are carving out a niche for ourselves in this subculture (and as I've run this blog and networked with people, I've learned just how much of a "small world" it really can be).

The mention was in an article submitted by a fellow blogger and independent researcher. I've quoted the relevant section below [note: I have updated the quote with corrected numbers even though the original was a bit different, just so that no one who comes across this page takes the original incorrect info from it] :

While other writers have commented on the changes to the psalter there has been little work published on other changes that took place in connection with the publication of the new Breviary. An independent researcher in the USA, Mr [My Real Name] of [My Hometown], Illinois, has compiled and published a series of comparative tables showing the distribution of antiphons, invitatories at Matins, and versicles at Matins [26]. [My Real Last Name] demonstrates that, with regard to the antiphons, only sixty-six that were found in the old Psalter are found in the post-1911 arrangement (and of these sixteen were adapted in a minor way). In the region of seventy-five antiphons disappeared from the Roman Breviary following the reforms with the creation of 154 new ones. What is curious is that in many cases new antiphons were created even if the psalms had remained the same (as will be noted, e.g., with regard to Sunday Vespers below). The antiphons associated with the various Commons were untouched. The invitatories were changed for four days of the week (and for some of the ‘green’ Sundays) even though Ps. 94 remained unchanged. Likewise, despite the creation of the new structure of Matins to allow for three nocturns or a single nocturn while using the same psalmody, some versicles and their responses were changed, e.g. the second nocturn of Sunday Matins.
The footnote [26] says:

These can be found on [My Real Last Name]’s blog ‘Renegade Trads’ <> [accessed 3 May 2011]. I am grateful to Mr [My Real Last Name] for allowing me to quote from his work.
(The charts/inventories referred to which I made of the antiphons can be found stored under hyperlinks in Section #6 of that post of mine. They can also be found in their own separate post here.)

To be cited in an academic journal for my work, albeit minor, on an issue I'm interested in (if only as a sort of hobbyist), having only a bachelor's degree and being only 22 years something I feel rather proud of today. And especially given how much some of the rad trads hate the "renegades" have the blog mentioned in the journal like this makes me feel a bit smug too...

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I hope a friend and reader won't mind that I cribbed this from him. I'm sorry I've been scarce on posts lately or only posting music videos, but I really couldn't pass this one by given my own medieval leanings:

Somehow it seems fitting for today. It was this perfect late-October day, a little brisk, but sunny enough, the level of light as the afternoon wore on being absolutely sehnsucht-inducing for me (an emotion strongest for me, perhaps, starting right around this time of year and through the holidays). I could imagine this song playing at harvest time around some medieval market or castle great-room hearth as the days grow shorter and things start to get cozy.

I took a long walkabout for several hours today to continue exploring my new surroundings. I realized that my life schedule is finally becoming more regular again thanks to work. Since high school it hasn't been, I think. Classes in university are rather minor (lol) and I had lots of unstructured time especially given my irregular path through the past four years. So I slipped into a slothful habit of naps and irregular sleep-hours and procrastination from school work.

School work, homework specifically, really messed me up psychologically throughout my life, I think; even in high school I would nap after school and lived procrastinating online. The thing about procrastination is, it's not like you let yourself do anything else useful or truly enriching during that time either. You sit around online or at the TV buying time in an escapist fashion, but you don't replace the task you're avoiding with anything creative or fruitful or constructive of self-growth-inducing either. Mainly I'd sit at home or in my room.

But finally, now, I have a job during the day, get enough sleep that I don't nap in the evenings, and then on the weekends can stay up a bit later and sleep in and then feel totally free and non-stressed during the day. I also tied up several years-long-standing "loose ends" before I moved to Canada, so there are no longer nagging tasks weighing on me.

This structure and balance and true freedom (there is no "homework" for my job!! Finally!!!) really feels healthier to me, and I can already feel myself using my time more constructively and in a non-procrastinating manner. When there is no longer anything to procrastinate from, genuine leisure, genuine free time becomes possible. I can walk around with no particular goal or purpose and it becomes an end in itself. That is truly liberating. I'd like to be a bit more financially secure, but that will come soon enough, and I'm feeling quite at peace and optimistic today. L'chaim!! Deo Gratias!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Head of State or Figurehead? The "Relational Networks of Power" Model of Politics

I had occasion recently to listen while some people had a conversation about constitutional monarchy and the role of a Head of State in the government of a nation. After all, I am now living under Her Majesty, and happily so (though not yet a subject...)

As much as I've critiqued crazy trads for being purist about it or seemingly wanting to return to absolute monarchy, I do have [constitutional] monarchist sympathies, especially in places where there is a tradition of that. Because, heck, I love tradition and symbolism, of course, and a monarch symbolically embodies the nation as a living "tradition" from the past, as it were, embodying the legitimacy and continuity of the State (especially if above this or that faction or party.)

And while an elected leader can do this (just as the elected line of Popes or elected/appointed bishops in a diocese can in the ecclesiastic sphere) by taking up the mantle of the Idea of The State being conferred on them by whatever more abstract process...there is something about organic natural genealogical descent, physical and material, that seems to most fittingly symbolize the continuity, the "tradition" (in the literal sense of "handing down") of temporal nationhood.

As nationhood is ultimately a reality of biological descent (or, at least, the original concept is rooted in that, all exceptions for immigration, etc, aside), which is ultimately something inherited by us first and foremost physically, as a body related to other bodies familially (the nation and/or State, the civic sphere, is the material and temporal power, after all, not the spiritual). I suppose being a "sacramentally" minded person, this is why I'm inclined to prefer a "genetic" Head of State to a purely "memetic" one, when it comes to symbolizing the temporal nation or State. Because nationhood is "supposed to be" (in the root concept, at least) a reality of birth; "nation" and "nativity" share the same etymology in "birth" after all. (Whereas it is membership in the Church which is a reality of adoption, which is supposed to be the spiritual as opposed to fleshly community. All talk of "cradle Catholics" aside, no one is "born Christian"...we are all born pagans and become Christian only with baptism).

However, then people always bring up the question of "actual power." They scoff and call constitutional monarchs "figureheads" or "merely" symbols. In some systems there is a monarch specified by the very constitution as purely symbolic (take the Emperor of Japan since after WWII). This symbolism, this ceremonial role, is not, however, (as any good traditionalist should know) a "mere" thing, I wouldn't think.

That's like saying that a bishop's role as chief priest (liturgically speaking) in his diocese is "mere," when's the foundation and cornerstone of everything else! It is in being the central ceremonial/liturgical figure, in symbolizing (being!) "Christ" for His diocese in that act, from which the bishop derives his other "administrative" powers (and those are the secondary thing), not the other way around.

The same for a Head of State (whether hereditary or elected). There must be a signifier capping the institutions of the State, a "hook" for the abstract notion of legitimacy to hang on (in the system of signifiers in the mind of the populace), a "final node" in which the sum result of the contribution of all the other nodes in the network is ultimately totaled. Because otherwise a State has no "real" existence, it is just a group of people. Corporate personhood (whether in the form of Church or State) requires ultimate "heading" in a real individual or the symbolic system which coordinates that notion tends to collapse, I think. The Head of State has a very important role in "tying together" legitimacy among the populace, to keeping the State-body cohesive, in this sense. Is in this way a "cornerstone" or "keystone" for the whole edifice of power.

And it's not just their body, their external physical persona which symbolizes the State (the Queen is Canada, for example, her body "is the locus of two distinct legal personae, one public, one private" as they say). This gets back to that question of the "figurehead" accusation, to the question of "real power." I would, in fact, assert that it is also, very literally, the Head of State's very Will in which must be located, in a very real sense, the Will of the whole nation or State. One can try to abstractly distinguish between their "private Will" and their "public Will" represented by the institutional organs of decision making, but I think this distinction is ultimately only abstraction. Just as a monarch does not have two bodies, they cannot have two Wills.

So what of "real powers"? Elected Heads of States (like presidents) are officially recognized as explicitly having them, certainly. But constitutional monarchs are usually seen as totally neutered. Whatever "reserve powers" they may officially maintain are seen as practically impossible to use. And yet I have basically just attempted to assert in the last paragraph that the Queen's Will is the legitimate one for the whole State, that her Will is the only one that can be called the Will of the corporate person which is the State, and not merely that of a private individual. How can these two things be reconciled?

I just gave a hint, the whole point of this post, I think: "practically" impossible is of a very different order than constitutionally impossible even if they are practically the same. As the wonderful thing about human wills is exactly that the do naturally exist in a world of circumstance, and specifically in a social network with other human Wills, that imposes consequences on their choices and which thus influence them. Yes, even to the point of a sort of duress. And this, I think, is the reality represented by the requirement, say, that the Queen only act "on the advice of her prime minister" etc. It's not that the Prime Minister has the "real" power in the sense of political legitimacy being rooted in his Will. But he may have the practical power based on how the web of relationships (all the State can really ever be) have been institutionally structured around the "central" Will of the monarch.

And they have been structured in such a way, yes, to "neuter" the monarch. To arrange the consequences in such a way that acting unilaterally would not "work." If the Queen tried to pull something unilaterally, other persons and blocks of persons, other Wills, would simply act to delegitimize her or the decision (except in the rare circumstance that she had broad popular support in the face of corrupt politicians; and even then it would still be the result of the relationships in society being structured in such a way that her Will would be the popular Will). But this doesn't mean that her Will is any less the "real" seat of legitimacy, it's just that she is under a certain type of duress or "under the sway" of those around her in the institutions of State. In fact, collectively, ultimately under the practically irresistible influence of every other Will in the nation "feeding into" her decisions through the channels of power.

This is how governments have always worked. Different people or groups of people may have, by their privileged positions in the structure of the network, yielded more relative influence in the past, their Will may have had a disproportionately high influence on the final collective outcome relative to other people. This is still true now, of course, but we tend to recognize that there has been a certain structural diffusion of power to lessen this through democratization. And we may agree or disagree that this is ideal. Certainly, I do not think absolutely "leveled" democracy (where everyone has roughly equal influence) is necessarily ideal a priori for any reason, and so I certainly think we may debate whether/how to structure the relations of power so that certain people or groups (perhaps even the Head of State or monarch personally, as in certain periods of the past) have a more or less proportionate influence on the final outcome. But ultimately these differences in structuring are differences in degree only, not nature, they exist along a historical continuum.

And this structuring of power through relationships is true of all of us, to some degree, in real life. I may be the "official" holder of my bank account, my Will is required to withdraw from it...but there are friends who know how to finagle (or bully, or beg) me into giving them some money. A father may be the official (in the legal sense) head of a family for various purposes, but he still may be "under the thumb" of a domineering wife. A Pope is the one who really is invested with supreme jurisdiction and infallibility, and we have to believe that Providence and the Holy Spirit are still working even if this Pope is beholden to some iron-willed housekeeper nun (lol) for whom he will do whatever she says.

Similarly a constitutional monarch. They do have the "real power" inasmuch as all the power and legitimacy of the State is indeed seated in their Will. There is no way for a State to act as a corporate person, as an organism, if this is not true. A 535-man congress cannot actually make a decision "collectively," the vote must ultimately be assented to by some unitary Will (that of the Head of State) to truly be the Will of the nation in terms of legitimacy. However, that doesn't mean we must accept "absolute" monarchy either. It is perfectly legitimate for Wills to be influenced by other Wills around them, for people to be "controlled" or limited in their decision making by the influence or "peer pressure" of those around them.

The question is how those various Wills (which may be in conflict) are able to exert or balance their respective influences over the supreme "central" Will of a State, how this network of relationships (and power therein) are structured. And I, for one, am certainly inclined to say that some degree of diffusion of power (on "democratic" lines) is best, as well as the structures of power being orderly and reasonable; power should be "channeled" in a "contained" fashion through the Rule of Law, the collective decision should not be made by a chaotic "storm" every time, but in a manner procedurally calm and non-volatile.

No king has ever truly ruled unilaterally. Even tyrants without widespread popular support obviously still had a certain type of tacit legitimacy, inasmuch as they were able, as a matter of practical fact, control the State. The "political" relational network (the one dealing with the exertion of power) were still such that the forces with the power (the army, say, and the wealthy) were arranged and structured relative to each other such that the king retained legitimacy in the sense of being able to carry out his Will by operationalizing the relationships he had, his privileged position in the relational network of power. But if his generals all ever got together and decided to kill or desert him or pressure him into making the decision they wanted...they would have easily been able to, objectively speaking (the genius of many "good kings" was in their ability to play powers against each other in balance.)

However, as I said above, what "democratization" has been is, essentially, the gradual diffusion of this power to more and more (in theory). Structuring the relational network in such a way as to (attempt to) equalize the respective power (in terms of the network as a whole) among all citizens, so that the "popular Will," the Will which the Head of State is ultimately under compulsion to make officially his own, is more majoritarian (while still structuring things so that minorities have their own sort of protections and influence).

But just because it is under compulsion at the center of the network of power, doesn't mean the Head of State's Will is any less real, any less the seat of legitimacy, and it still very much has a "structural" role as the central node wherein the "final calculation" of this network and all its many variables is resolved. Mind you: this doesn't mean the Head of State can never be removed or replaced (in fact, especially if he tries to resist this overwhelming "influence"...a restructuring like that may well be the result of the final calculation that does indeed play out in certain circumstances, in which case a new head will be found.)

Politics can only ever be understood in this "sociological" sense. Naive essentializations of government, legitimacy, political will, or power...lead to many problems. Politics or government is nothing other than the structuring of relationships (and the power therein) on a mass scale whereby what is concretely just millions of individuals are organized, effectively, into a single organism, a corporate person, based on the how those channels and organs of power are structured. But in such a system, there still must be a central Will (however "influenced" by all the others in the system), a Head, a final node in which (according to the structure of the network) the final calculation of the respective contributions of all the various other Wills can be preformed and the "combined" effect of all these various pushes and pulls can be played out.

Like a compass that must ultimately settle on one direction; in spite of there being strong magnets all over the room, it's simple physics: the sum of the various vectors of these magnetic forces will ultimately balance-out in one final concrete direction when all the opposing forces cancel out. And serving as this final node in which the respective influence of all the other nodes on the network of power finally resolves is, I think, the structural role of the Head of State in government.

And so if it's structured "properly" (by which I mean in such a way that the Head of State's "personal" influence is equally as tiny as that of each of the other millions of individual in the nation; though there can certainly be debate about whether that is "proper," about how much personal influence the Head of State should proportionately have) then I see no real threat in the office also being hereditary instead of elected, if only for symbolic purposes (and indeed, as I started this article by explaining: the two are not separate at all. The Head of State's Will "symbolizes" legitimacy for the nation collectively because that's exactly what it, in fact, is. The signifier of their personal assent is not an empty one, a sort of ceremonial rubber-stamp after-the-fact, but truly is the functional "barometer" that ultimately indicates/reveals the selfsame complexly-calculated collective decision signified by that personal decision.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Back For Now

As I alluded to in my post earlier this month, I've obviously been relatively scarce thanks to my international move, various melodramatic distractions, and the fact that getting internet in my apartment was a huge hassle involving the postal system and the phone company (two bureaucracies you don't want to deal with! Especially not in a mildly socialist country...) But finally I do have internet again, so hopefully I will be posting more very soon; I do have a few backlogged ideas. For now, prayers would still be very much appreciated. And a little nostalgia:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Meeting In The "Middle"

A number of debates I've had recently with friends have centered around notions of what our "default" inclination is "politically." Ironically, we all have pretty much the same values and priorities now, and generally are hesitant to side with any movement or party or faction of This World.

The truth is, though, sometimes we have to side with something. But I think people may legitimately disagree on what is the lesser evil. I think Catholics have different “default” inclinations. My “default” inclination is, in fact, to err on the side of the Right when such a compromise much be made. Yet many of my (Catholic) friends actually have a “default” that is very much Liberal.

I'll admit: I've always voted Republican in the US, even if holding my nose while doing it. If I must choose between the Right and the Left, my inclination is still to see the Right as the lesser evil. My personality is just naturally "conservative" that way.

However, as I think is a big part of this whole "Renegade Trads" thing, I'm finding that I have “met in the middle” with a variety of people. Or perhaps “middle” is not the best way to describe it (because the position we ultimately hold is not so much moderate or centrism, as an attempt to always stay “transcendent” or “above” politics, yet not in an escapist sense, etc). So many debates I get in now are less about what the good looks like, and more about which evil is lesser. Less about the final destination, and more about which direction it makes more sense to arrive at it from.

Some people are “coming from the Right,” others are “coming from the Left.” Hopefully we’ll all meet in the “middle” (or whatever you want to call it). But I wouldn’t look down on the authoritarian and repressive tendencies of “coming from the Right” without equal criticism of the tendency towards naïveté of “coming from the Left.” And I wouldn't condemn the atheism and secularism that is more explicit on the Left without recognizing that the Right often co-opts God and notions of the transcendent for agendas that are completely secular and materialist.

Certainly, I'd no longer be inclined towards the simplistic "Catholic Answers" view that its a sin to vote Democratic (or for any pro-choice politician). Really I think political questions are not so straightforward now. I'll always err on the side of pro-life politicians personally, but I think voting for someone else can be legitimate as long as you're not voting for them because of their pro-choice position, and as long as you sincerely believe the situation is such that their position on abortion will be inconsequential in terms of actually affecting the current status quo.

It is no better to “sympathize with” Marxism than with Fascism. They’re both bad, but the fact that for most people one or the other is going to tug our heartstrings a little bit more on the level of pure appeal-to-emotion is not something to be making value judgments on. A concern with Equality or Freedom is no more noble a “political” concern than a concern with Order. Both are necessary values, neither should be sacrificed for the other, and having a “default” priority for one or the other (as long as we do eventually reach the correct synthesis) is not better or worse.

Likewise, there is ultimately no real conflict between people being good and people feeling good, between meaningfulness and happiness. But inasmuch as this false dichotomy can play out in the fallen sinful world, I'm more inclined to preserve meaningfulness and objective goodness over feeling good, over subjective pleasure and happiness. Others are more inclined to sympathize with a "sacrifice" working in the other direction, which is very much against my personal instinct on these questions.

Similarly, I recently had a discussion about whether there has been a sort of moral improvement of humanity along the lines of the Progressive narrative which would say that, yes, as technology and science has progressed, so have attitudes and philosophies and institutions. I very much disagreed; there is nothing new under the sun since Christ in this regard, and while there may be a cycle of more or less pious or idealistic periods, I think if anything evil has simply gotten more globalized and industrialized rather than things being any "better" nowadays (So we've gotten rid of official slavery; the global economy is based on structurally exploiting whole sections of the Third World! So we in the First World pride ourselves on a certain type of individualist empathy and non-bigotry, on being "nice people" basically; but then we live decadently and allow millions of infants to be slaughtered in the womb each year!)

However, as long as we all "meet in the middle" I think what direction we're "coming from" in these regards, whether our personality is naturally inclined to be liberal or conservative as its "default" sympathy...doesn't really matter. The perspectives are complementary.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Is The News Good?

So, I'm still without internet in my new apartment thanks to the postal system, but just to do a quick post I bring to your attention these two stories many of you probably already saw.

The first involves Bishop Finn being charged for not reporting what he knew in the Kansas City case. Lots of conservative Catholics are going to be crying "persecution." I think that, whatever ultimately happens, they sort of had this coming. Whether you think it is entirely just in this specific case or not, beginning to prosecute bishops for their role in the sex abuse can only be a good development.

The second involves Assisi III. It sounds like there is little to worry about, like the Vatican has done everything it can to neuter any sort of indifferentist, Liberal, interreligious spirit at this gathering. Oh, some people will never be pleased (it'll be interesting to see how the SSPX reacts to the events) but it sounds like there won't even be any prayer or specifically religious interaction, just some meetings, speeches, and a dedication to peace. Fine.

In terms of the first story, during the height of this recent scandal last year, I had some very strong (even disgusted) critical words for this Pope in terms of acting decisively and being willing to think outside the culture of clericalism. But still, in light of the second story, I'm nevertheless so glad we've got him. I think he's managed to turn the train around, pretty much.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bishops and Marriage

An old article, but a principle I generally support. Bishops should, generally, be elected by the cathedral chapter of canons or diocesan presbyterial senate, probably from among their own number, and ordained by the archbishop of the province and co-consecrators from the nearest dioceses. They should not change dioceses (that ring is a wedding ring!) and there should be no notion of promotion.

Presbyters changing parishes is a bit less problematic as technically the "parish" is not a theological unit; priests belong to the dioceses as a whole sort of like the bishop and are his "hands" to use as needed to bring the sacraments to various locales.

Still, we can't be absolutist. Obviously, even in the early church there was sometimes movement between Sees (Peter from Antioch to Rome, for example) and sometimes it makes sense for a Pope to be elected from the bishop of another diocese, etc.

I'd tend to think that's "more okay" if the guy is moving up to a jurisdiction that
includes his former jurisdiction; like, if a bishop is promoted to archbishop in the same province, archbishop to primate of his nation, a metropolitan to patriarch of his sui juris church or rite, a bishop to the papacy, etc, then there is less of a sense that he's "deserting" his former "bride" because he's still related directly to it in some hierarchal sense.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Rather Striking Admission

I don't know where they got this letter form the Pope, but I wish he would discuss issues in the Church with this sort of candor publicly:
I understand quite well your concern regarding the participation at the Assisi meeting. However, this commemoration would have to have been celebrated in some way and, all things considered, it seemed to me that the best thing would be for me to personally go there being thus able to determine the direction of it all. I will nevertheless do everything in order that a syncretistic or relativistic interpretation of the event will be impossible and so that what will remain is that I will always believe and confess that which I had called to the attention of the Church with [the Declaration] 'Dominus Iesus'.
Wouldn't it be great/funny if at Assisi III itself he got up and said, basically, "Yeah, the other two events were real scandals, gave the impression of relativism/indifferentism, and I'm here to basically put an end to that. Make no mistake: Catholicism is the one true Faith. Thanks for coming, though, we're more than willing to cooperate on a humanitarian level in spite of your schisms, heresies, and false gods."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Absent (and 666)

I'd like to apologize to my readers for having been absent and posting rather infrequently for about a month now. I moved to another country at the beginning of September, am living in a self-sufficient manner for really the first time, have been without internet (it should be on early next week), and have had a lot of other emotionally exhausting things on my mind. Prayers are appreciated; this is also my 666th post, lol...