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So am I the only one to get sucked into “The Expanse?” May 25, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, fun, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology, Uncategorized, watch.
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Regular readers know that we haven’t got any cable or satellite, but I’m not completely dead to the culture, yet.  I still hear about things through blogs and news sites.  I heard about the SyFy network program The Expanse several months ago and quickly got sucked in.  Enough so that after I had exhausted the first season episodes available free on Amazon Prime, I waited a few months but finally cracked and bought the second season.  The show is by no means perfect, but it is very, very good.

One warning.  I guess the broadcast standards have really collapsed because the show has all kinds of cuss words in it.  It’s not really gratuitous, the situations generally call for such language, but the show features such dire situations so frequently the language does tend a bit blue.  And another warning – one unfortunate failing of the production was the inclusion of totally gratuitous sex scenes in the first episodes of both seasons.  This is such a sop to the sick and fallen culture it’s really sad to consider, because neither of these scenes is even remotely necessary for plot advancement or character development.

But aside from that there is very much right with the show.  The Expanse is set in the late 23rd century, a time when man has colonized much of the solar system, with Mars a heavily populated independent power and a huge population scattered on myriad asteroids and moons of the gas giants.  The Earth is still the greatest power in the solar system but Mars is rising and seeks to ultimately displace Earth.  There are lots of cold war-type tensions and then a radical new discovery literally changes everything.  The fight to gain control over this discovery and weaponize it for advantage drives much of the plot in the first two seasons.

The thing I like best about the show is that it is relatively realistic, as Sci-Fi goes.  It’s not quite 2001: a space odyssey, but it’s close.  They show real weightlessness, they show the effects of “high-G burns” when the interplanetary spacecraft must impose huge G-loads on the crew to do certain maneuvers, they show mostly realistic weaponry (but no anti-missile missiles is a pretty bad miss), long-range ship-to-ship, missiles, nuclear warheads, point defence guns, interplanetary guided missiles, etc.  It’s a quite fully realized universe and one that is enjoyable to watch.

The third major party in the series are the “belters,” souls who live among the asteroids and many moons colonized on the outer planets, people who have been in low-G and low-oxygen environments for so long their physiology has changed and they can no longer live on Earth.  They also have a unique language developed for the show, which to me sounds a lot like Afrikaans (and the English they speak is spoken with a South African accent).  The belters view themselves as outcasts who are preyed upon by the “inners” and violently punished whenever they “get out of line.”  This is another major story arc through the series.

The production values and CGI are top-notch.  There are some errors, like spacecraft with voluminous empty spaces serving no purpose (but they look pretty on TV) and crazily sped up transit times between, say, the rings of Saturn and the asteroid belt (which even at 5 million miles per hour – a speed the ships in the series regularly attain – could take many days or even weeks).

The acting ranges from fair to superb.  Shohreh Aghdashloo is brilliant as a leading Earth politician Chrisjen Avasarala.  I love Cas Anvar’s Martian of Indian-descent who speaks with a Texan accent, Alex Kamal.  Dominique Tipper has grown on me.  I think the dude playing James Holden is just OK.  Most of the others are serviceable but overall the acting does not bring the show down at all.

What really carries it along is the plot and the very well-realized universe.  The story is gripping and tends to draw you in.  They are dealing with end of the world solar system type scenarios quite regularly (hence, the language) but the scenarios are not utterly implausible.  Once you accept the MacGuffin that drives everything along it all flows very sensically.

If you like sci-fi it’s a definite must-see, provided you can get past the language and the two brief but gratuitous scenes in the first episodes of series 1 and 2 (fortunately you have a bit of warning for both and can easily skip past).  If you like good drama with a healthy amount of action, you’ll also probably enjoy it. If you think this culture has absolutely nothing to offer anyone and prefer a good book to anything broadcast, you’re probably wiser than I.  But sometimes my ‘ol noggin’ wants a break and this one wasn’t too bad.

Season 3 will air sometime in the first half of 2018.

Is There a PR Campaign Against Traditionalists…….. May 25, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Grace, Interior Life, Latin Mass, mortification, scandals, Society, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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…….or is there a resurgence in stereotypical “bad Trad” behavior in parishes that offer the TLM?

Dear reader SB, who I value so much in real life as a great sounding board to bounce ideas off, since SB has been around the TLM since ’91 (two decades more than me), sent me a link to this post at Unam Sanctam Catholicam some time ago.  I had been meaning to get to it, but then a few days ago another reader, MFG, sent me links to two other similar postings (here and here).  MFG wondered if this was perhaps part of some campaign to either give TLMers a bad name or to put them in a box, the suspicion being that perhaps this effort had something to do with the looming SSPX “reconciliation.”

Now, about these posts and the posters.  Of the three, I have total respect for Unam Sanctam Catholicam and know he’s a straight shooter duly reporting what he’s been told.  I also know there is no “agenda” there save perhaps for genuine concern about the health of TLM communities and the continued availability of the ancient Mass.  We all know Father Z and you can draw your own conclusions.  As for the final link above, it’s from the progressive-modernist Commonweal and I would treat any report by them with great skepticism.

Tying all this together for me personally was two sermons given by our pastor lately basically also imploring the faithful not to be “bad trads” by making others feel bad or engaging in much, if any, fraternal correction save in obvious or dire situations.

I won’t get into any of the particular posts but I’ll just share my own experience and my take on this sudden rash of posts seeming to say very much the same thing.  But before I do that I should share a bit about me.  Perhaps you’ve noticed but I really don’t give two shakes what anybody thinks about me.  That’s not entirely true – I’m extremely concerned what my wife, children, and other family and close friends think of me – but generally I’m not out to get people’s approval.  If they like me, fine, if they think I’m an asshole, bully for you and move on along.  I’ve also got a fairly thick skin and don’t mind sharing my opinion (obviously) nor hearing those of others, especially from those I have learned through experience to respect.  I’m generally reserved in real life but if people ask my opinion or I get drawn into a conversation then I don’t mind sharing it.  Having said that, save for close friends and family directly seeking counsel, I virtually never “correct” anyone in their behavior even if I have an issue with it.  However, I’m also perfectly willing to hear correction or exhortations to do better from others and I gladly received just such an exhortation as recently as last week.  Much depends on the source and how it is conveyed, of course.

That being said, the report I take the most seriously is the one from Unam Sanctam Catholicam (USC).  As I said, I trust the source implicitly but I’ve got to say I have rarely heard or seen any evidence of the type of behavior he’s describing – the typical trads complaining because the maniple is tied wrong or the Latin pronunciation is inexact.  I’ll take USCs word for it that he heard that from certain priests but I’m a bit skeptical that the priests were really receiving hyper-critical comments with any regularity.  There could also be a phenomenon at work where a priest going out on a limb expects a lot of praise and adulation from those he’s taking a risk for – and offering the TLM in most dioceses is hardly career enhancing and often career-threatening, so I certainly understand the expectation of praise from the faithful – which might cause even occasional negative comments to be blown out of proportion.  Now really I don’t know anything about the situation or the priests involved so I really shouldn’t comment but I’ll simply state this kind of hyper-critical behavior is, in my experience, quite rare.  It’s also so stereotypical of the “bad trad” behavior that was repeated uncritically in the conservativish Catholic press for a quarter century or more that it sort of sets off alarm bells in the back of my mind.  That’s all I’ll say about that.

Moving onto the subject of the local sermons, an exhortation to be very careful when applying fraternal correction, I thought the priest might have gone a bit far in some of his examples/verbiage but the overall point was certainly fine and well-taken.  I am certain this sermon was a reaction to reports/complaints the priest has received.  Now whether those episodes of correction that led to complaints were really malicious or simply misplaced zeal – or even people trying to assuage their own consciences that they are doing right, finding strength in number or whatever – I tend to imagine it is the latter far more than the former.

I also realize not everyone is like me.  Whereas I might hear someone extolling me to lead my family more in communal prayer as a well-meaning concern for my soul and the souls of my family, some people find this kind of talk threatening or as some kind of rebuke.  Perhaps it’s just my jerky nature but when someone goes to pieces because another person extolled the virtues of homeschooling to them (assuming decent tact and decorum) and they’re not homeschooling, well, toughen up buttercup.  That’s no reason to have a 30 minute crying jag in Father’s office.  Again, much would depend on the nature of the relationship between the people involved and what exactly was said, but I’m extremely skeptical that there is much in the way of malicious put-downs or hyper-critical correction going on – at least in the limited TLM communities I’ve been exposed to.

More often than not it’s probably just someone a little bit too on fire for a certain subject that comes on a bit strong.  I don’t see that as “bad Trad” behavior at all.  It’s probably just an error of judgment or a mild personality defect.

Really though outside relatively close personal relationships or directly-sought counsel we lay people probably don’t need to be doing a great deal of direct correcting of each other.  If you see something amiss repeatedly with someone who should no better, probably the best course of action is to quietly bring it to the attention of the competent priest and let them deal with it.  In my experience, they will generally follow through (and do a better job than we would), though it may not happen instantly as we would like.  (or am I being squishy here?  Is the crisis in the Faith so dire the times demand broad sweeping intervention into other’s business?)

At the same time I also think priests and laity should not be so delicate as to get upset about perceived correction (which may be simply a misinterpreted general exhortation).  The priests related by USC, especially, I think did not have the right reasons for offering the TLM.  Certainly there is a pastoral side to making the TLM available, but the real reason for offering ANY Mass is to render worthy honor and glory to God.  The Mass is the ONLY efficacious Sacrifice that is pleasing to God.  Since the TLM is so demonstrably superior in both form and effect every priest should be eager to offer the TLM at every possible alternative, and should not get discouraged if the faithful are not as appreciative and uncritical as he would like.  That’s probably expecting too much from frail human nature but nevertheless I think priests who stop offering the TLM because the laity are not docile enough or appreciative enough for his taste is, I think, pretty weak tea.

As to whether this is an anti-TLM PR campaign I think probably not, it’s probably just coincidence, but you know the old Hardy Boy’s formula: once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, thrice is CONSPIRACY!!  I think in this internet age, however, where people are hard up for content and want to attract attention, that formula probably needs some modification.

What do you think, or what is your experience?  Is there still a problem of mean ‘ol judgy trads wagging their fingers in innocent faces and driving people away from the TLM?  The way our local parish is growing, I’d have to say their failing if their intent is to keep people away.  Is there a problem with maybe a bit too zealous, perhaps a bit brittle and damaged trads getting too much into other’s business?  I still think my answer would be generally no (SB says she used to see this as a big problem, but not so much anymore).

Or perhaps are Trads and Trad priests maybe so set in their ways and so sure of being right they can’t take correction even when it’s well placed and deserved?