Strength, Weakness, Meekness

Patrick Richardson pens a spirited defense of manhood in an article well worth reading:

I agree with what he says but say he does not say enough. Feminism is not merely the enemy of masculinity but also the foe femininity, because it is the foe of romance. Mr. Richardson is right to regret the loss of chivalry, but he does not say where it is to be found and regained.

There is only one place chivalry can be found: in the Cathedral, whence it came in times gone by. Anyone who looks into the matter will soon discover that one cannot have chivalry without Christianity just as one cannot have Romance without Rome.

All pagan societies worship and revere strength.

And, by all means, let us include among the worshipers of raw strength those postchristians like Karl Marx who borrow Christian ideals without the only metaphysical foundations which can possibly make sense of them.

That is why the question of ‘STRONG female characters’ is so strong in the minds of the new pagans. That is why all this jabber from Left and Right about ’empowerment’. Feminists despise femininity because they think it makes them look weak.

Anyone who reveres strength despises weakness.

I say Christianity is unique because not even the other monotheistic religion, Judaism, nor the monotheistic heresies, Deism, Gnosticism and Mohammedanism, have the monotheistic God in a position of weakness, born in a stable and dying on a cross. Only we saw our God humiliated. Hence only we have a logical reason to revere and respect the humble.

There are only so many civilizations on Earth: the Mesoamerican was wiped out by the Spanish, and exists only as a topic for archeologists; the Babylonians likewise. The living civilizations whose influences reach to roots outside Christendom include the Near-Eastern, the Indian, the Chinese. Are any of them concerned for the weak? Are any of them taken with the romance of weakness called chivalry?

As much as I admire Judaism, and as much as I despise Mohammedanism, honesty requires us to admit both religions have a very strong tradition of alms-giving to the poor. Is this a romantic chivalry and respect for the weak? To me, seeing with the eye of an outsider, both religions seem to be legalistic. Their God never dirtied Himself by incarnating, never passed through the birth canal of a mere woman, never wandered, never went thirsty, never had nails driven into his hands, never cried out wondering why God had abandoned him. No one doubts that the lonely God of the Old Testament and the Koran is compassionate and merciful, and demands his slaves and manservants to be merciful as well, but the element of mystical romance seems absent. Certainly the romance of monogamy is absent.

To the degree that India retains her British legal and cultural heritage, we are seeing Christian chivalry and concern for the weak and humble reflected from a foreign mirror.

To the degree that India retains her religiously-sanctioned caste system, this is not so.

No other culture explicitly and expressly ties a man’s class in life to his spiritual merit, or makes the idea of a humbly born saint impossible.

The untouchables, for example, are being punished due to sins in past lives, and are relegated to their low station by the justice of Karma. There is simply no culture on Earth less chivalrous, less willing and able to see the weak and humble as sacred.

Hermits and ascetics certainly exist in the Hindu worldview, and are holy men, but there are high caste individuals undergoing a discipline of privation.

My knowledge of Hinduism is quite limited, but I cannot recall any figures like Joan of Arc or Saint Peter, peasants chosen by heaven for high work, anywhere in the Hindu pantheon. Buddha was a prince, not a man born in a stinking stable.

As for the Chinese, Mao made a bold attempt to exterminate Confucian thinking and replace it with the philosophy of the postchristian secular heresy called Marxism, which does indeed express concern for the poor, but only because the forces of evolution decree that they are strong and will overthrow the evil but weak capitalist oppressors.

The Chinese worship strength, and charity is alien to them. My daughter was raised to believe there is no reason to preserve unwanted babies.

When I was in China, the tourguide saw me stop to give alms to beggars. He watched in wonder, and asked me why I was ‘tipping’ the beggars.

I told him our god walks the earth in disguise dressed as a beggar and any man who does not give alms with both hands is stricken with a curse and flung screaming into a lake of fire.

One might think that an odd reason to give alms, or even an impure or superstitious reason, but no one can say it is a prosaic reason. To see god in a beggar’s careworn and quotidian face is the very soul of romance.

Romance? Let me say something of the wild poetry that now rules my life.

I have a charm chalked on my front door to call a blessing down from wide heaven, and carry a rosary like a deadly weapon in my pocket, and hang the medallion of Saint Justin, patron of philosophers, whose name I take as my True Name, atop my computer monitor where he can stare at me.

Two angels follow me unseen as I walk, and I live in a world of exorcists and barefoot friars, muses and prophets, healers who lay on hands, mighty spiritual warriors hidden in crippled bodies, and fallen angels made of pure malicious
spirit obeying their damned and darkened Sultan from his darkest throne in hell. And I live in a world where a holy child was born beneath a magic star secretly as king, and the animals knelt and prayed. And from that dread king that small child will save us.

You might think my world inane, or insane, or uncouth, or false, but by the beard of Saint Nicholas, by the Breastplate of St. Patrick, and by the severed head of Saint Valentine, no one can say it is not romantic.

My life these days is a storybook story: if there were more romance in it, it be enough to choke Jonah’s Whale.


  1. Comment by Bobby Trosclair:

    Perfectly written.

  2. Comment by sparrow:

    To be complete, Buddhism makes an independent claim to uphold compassion and it’s primary goal of detachment from the world resonates with Christianity to a degree. Buddhism can be, in part, considered a critique of Karma and it’s side effect of indifference. However , in practice I see little comparable charitable work in Buddhism which does not have a self sacrificial aspect. The search for nirvana is a personal one.
    Like many religions it’s a partial/incomplete truth. Only the fullness of Catholicism demonstrates the complete path to holiness. We require a savior and therefore humility. Buddhism has only a teacher, thus it is an ancient self-help method and thereby makes the vain claim that we can reach a higher ideal state on our own. The meekness of Christ is a lesson for us. If the divine Son of God must “empty himself” in Paul’s words we ordinary folk certainly can not expect to achieve Heaven unassisted. I find this worldview much more realistic. The path to enlightenment in Buddhism is opaque (read any Zen text and you’ll know what I mean). By contrast, the way of the cross is perfectly clear. It may not be not easy, but it’s not ambiguous.

  3. Comment by Centurion13:

    @John: you wrote:

    I have a charm chalked on my front door to call a blessing down from wide heaven, and carry a rosary like a deadly weapon in my pocket, and hang the medallion of Saint Justin, patron of philosophers, whose name I take as my True Name, atop my computer monitor where he can stare at me.

    Two angels follow me unseen as I walk, and I live in a world of exorcists and barefoot friars, muses and prophets, healers who lay on hands, mighty spiritual warriors hidden in crippled bodies, and fallen angels made of pure malicious spirit obeying their damned and darkened Sultan from his darkest throne in hell. And I live in a world where a holy child was born beneath a magic star secretly as king, and the animals knelt and prayed. And from that dread king that small child will save us.

    Here is the thing that puts the force into all our intellectual musings, the various rants and suppositions about Leftists, Marxists and whatnot. My son does not yet see it, but he will. Or perhaps he does and I just don’t understand his gist.

    What you just described is, to me, the real live body beneath the clothing of our mere ‘belief’ and all the temptations to pride we encounter when doing battle with the enemy. It sounds like romance, all of it, and it is. But it’s real. It reads like high fantasy, but it’s reality. Our reality. No wonder they (Leftists, Marxists, Materialists, etc) hate us. No wonder they hate Him. Every effort they make is, in the long run, to deny reality, to make out that not only does the Emperor have clothes, but that the clothes literally make the man, that he is nothing but clothing.

    If I could point to a single thing that shows that the Materialists, etc, know what they are choosing – and choosing against – this would be it: the denial of reality, the hatred not of all religious belief, but one belief in particular. They hate it and well they should, because it is diametrically opposed to them in spite of the supposed ‘unreal’ language.

    Lewis was right. The language of reality is closer to myth and poetry than it is to the language of the laboratory; through it, reason and grace shine. I am not saying that the language of the laboratory and the college classroom do not have their place; I use them all the time. I am using them now. But they are tools to be discarded when their job is done, and not to be mistaken for the real things they represent.

    (Thus my recent calm regarding the enemy on the Internet. And my understanding of my son’s insistence that while my indignation at the forces of evil is laudable, it does me no good if by it I neglect cleaning the garage. In other words, righteous outrage and the time spent dealing with it online must not keep me from my duties in the real world.)

  4. Comment by Mary:

    A Chinese mother was stunned that Americans would write massive numbers of letters in support of letting her stay because she was pregnant and faced an involuntary abortion if she returned to China.

  5. Comment by Mary:

    “Hermits and ascetics certainly exist in the Hindu worldview, and are holy men, but there are high caste individuals undergoing a discipline of privation.”

    Technically, anyone of any caste — even an untouchable — who becomes an ascetic has transcended caste.

    Not that that has, or is, always permitted.

  6. Comment by Janie Mercer:

    Readers and writers enamoured of strong female heroines may be reacting to the lack of chivalry they have experienced.

    Something as simple as having a door held for you (followed by a thank-you) does not happen in many parts of the country, but it is an everyday thing where I live. That is how the men are taught to behave as boys, usually by their mothers backed by their fathers, and the women respond to good manners with good manners… for, yes, we also hold doors for men). It’s the commonplace existence of male-to-female chivalry that will usually extend to carrying groceries, changing tires, mowing the lawn and bringing flowers sometimes, too. It’s called being raised right. Church is often a part of it.

    For those who do not see these daily niceties, the world is surely a harsh and begrudging place where everything is tit for tat and physical or mental violence to women and children may abound with no knight in shining armor (or flannel shirt) anywhere in sight. It’s sadness and anger we see. Understandable, but it’s best met with compassion and showing another way.

    • Comment by Legatuss:

      If I could point to a single thing that shows that the Materialists, etc, know what they are choosing – and choosing against – this would be it: the denial of reality, the hatred not of all religious belief, but one belief in particular. They hate it and well they should, because it is diametrically opposed to them in spite of the supposed ‘unreal’ language.

      If they were really materialists, they would acknowledge that the material world exists. If they acknowledge that, than they must accept the scientific evidence that it exists. Included in that knowledge is the knowledge of it’s beginning, where all these material properties were determined, popularly called “The Big Bang” (even though it is now more scientifically correct to call it “The Big Swoosh”, but that is another story). The evidence of that Big Bang says that this universe should have run down, suffered “the heat death of the universe” a long time ago, if it did not start that way to begin with (80% chance). Thus this universe started with such a staggeringly low entropy that the chance of that happening ‘naturally’ or ‘materially’, IE without it being planned, is so hugely small that some ‘scientists’ have come up with unprovable ideas to explain it away, such as saying that it came from another universe, the problem being that that universe would also have to have the same low or even lower entropy, thus doubling the problem. The most likely explanation for all this apparent planning is, well, planning. Thus we have two options, no universe, obviously not true, or God.

      Further, we can tell, from this, not just that there is a God, but which one. To be able to plan such an improbable universe, that God must have infinite intelligence. This is impossible materially, we know that computers have a finite possible computing power, and this demands infinite. Conclusion, God is spirit (non material power and intelligence, not made of atoms, photons, muons, or anything material). Such a God of infinite power and intelligence obviously needs nothing from us, being able to literally do everything we know, and able to do everything we can even dream of or even not dream of (God first wrote an infinite number of science fiction and fantasy books before deciding on this universe that actually works). Thus, we are looking for a religion were God does everything and needs nothing from us. Most of the worlds religions say “do this, and God will love, or at least accept, you”. They are obviously false, God needs nothing from us and could do all that stuff much better than we can anyway. Only one religion stands out, Christianity, where Christ did everything, and all we need do is accept it. Therefore, from inescapable logical deduction from ‘materialism’, there is a God, and it is Christ.

      Or, you can come at it from the other end, as here Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.. Note, “since the creation of the world”, that would be the above “Big Bang”, “God’s invisible qualities”, who He is (which religion), that He is spirit, etc, are “clearly seen”. Thus, if you believe the bible, it says the exact same thing (with it’s usual precise exactness) that science says (if one is totally honest about what science says). ‘Materialism’ thus, if honestly applied, must lead to Christ.

      Note that to lump materialism and science together, and thus to say that science is anti God, is false. Rom 1:20 above states clearly that HONEST science MUST come to the conclusion, not only that there is a God, but even able to tell some of the properties of that God, thus allowing you to see if any earthy religion matches those observed properties, which one does. Saying that science is anti God is thus to deny Rom 1:20. My conclusion, the current “science is evil” idea came from Satan, so as to get Christians out of science, so that they will not see what I have pointed out here, and will not tell anyone else. A secondary effect of getting Christians out of science is it leaves less and less honest scientists, thus further preventing anyone from seeing the above, and also discrediting science, preventing it in the future and accelerating the “science is evil” idea. Further, once science is evil to ‘the church’, they can spin all kinds of fantasies, such as that the world is only 6000 years old, which is denied even by the bible (only ignorance of it has allowed the idea), and which causes children raised to believe such things to go out into the world and have it proven to them (with many actual honest proofs) that they were wrong, the bible is just fantasy, you should reject it. Basically, turn the bible into a straw man by misinterpreting it (so badly that it can only be called sin), and then demolishing that straw man. As they were warned “Be on guard against giving interpretations of Scripture that are farfetched or opposed to science, and so exposing the Word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers.” St. Augustine.

      Note that I have just shown how the universe, IE big bang, proves gen 1:1, science and the rest of Gen 1 also match up, describing planetary formation, atmospheric and oceanic formation and change to what they are today, the appearance of life in the correct order (matches the fossil record), etc. All this is rather odd for such an old book, how would Moses know about that stuff? Why, it’s almost as if it was described to him by an eyewitness! A verifiable scientific description doesn’t sound like fantasy to me.

      Conclusion, to deny God and Christianity is, itself, fantasy, since you must deny material reality to do so. It’s not even a very entertaining fantasy…

  7. Comment by The Next-to-Last Samurai:

    Dangnabbit, John, I’ve been waiting patiently for another evil topic, and I just can’t wait any longer. I already missed the chance to be the Janitor of Evil. So, I feel I have no choice but to barge in and rudely interrupt this topic (which is an evil thing to do, after all) in order to apply for the position of Official Dogwalker for the Hounds of Tindalos.

    • Comment by Legatuss:

      I also wish to apply, but not, as you will see, to a dogwalker position…

      I shall simply break out an earlier incarnation of myself, back when I was a WWII fighter pilot, as you can see here
      I’m that handsome devil right out front. No, not that one, that’s the major. I said Handsome. Devil. Right Out Front.
      The dog, you gotz a problem wid dat? What, are you RACISSS?!?

      Seriously, I don’t see what you peoples problem is, if it wasn’t for my sense of smell, I could hardly tell you apart. Sheesh.

      Now i know what you’re thinking, “how did a dog get to be a pilot?”. Well, it is a rather odd squadron, Pappy would let anyone fly if they were good. Why, we even had our own squadron song, just to show you how odd we were.
      We are pooooor lil’ dogs
      who have loooost our way

      (I may have personalized it a lil’ bit.)

      Anyway, the position I am applying for is security chief, you know, preventing the other side from breaking into the base, or stealing our secrets, that sort of thing. Back in my old squadron days, I had some experience at that sort of thing, mostly from the, um, other side of things, you might say. Getting in and, uh, acquiring needed items, like booze, spare parts, booze, fuel, more booze, (booze is apparently to fighter pilots what fuel is to airplanes). I learned all the tricks, scouting out the opposition (who would suspect the dog?), signaling when the coast was clear, distractions (more like planned chaos, but anyway…), and when all else failed, there was always the *Big Innocent Puppy Dog Eyes*, which worked as long as they hadn’t gotten to know me yet (there was a reason my call-sign was Baddog).

      Anyway, as security chief, I will implement a few changes. First, my official title will be “Kitchen Staff Supervisor”. See, basically, the idea is that everyone gets a title which will have nothing to do with their actual job, so as to confuse the enemy. Also, we will implement a new, completely baffling filing system, so the enemy will never be able to find our secrets, let alone steal them. Why, yes, that does mean I will become the only one who knows what’s going on, which will put me in sorta defacto control, won’t it? Truuuuust me, I know what I’m doing *Big Innocent Puppy Dog Eyes*.

      You did say this was an evil organization, right?

      (Baddog was my character in the old Airwarrior and later windows version, one of the very first massively multiplayer games. I believe I was the only non human pilot. The dog actually became fairly popular for a while there, why, they even named an airbase after me. OK, yeah, it was just a lil’ strip in the jungle, and yes, it was just before the game shut down for good, but it was nice while it lasted.)

  8. Comment by The Next-to-Last Samurai:

    P.s. John, what does the charm on your door look like?

  9. Comment by Rainforest Giant:

    I was thinking the same darn thing. And what is the purpose?

  10. Comment by The Next-to-Last Samurai:

    I can’t make that link John posted work. Could anyone who was able to read it offer a brief summary?

    • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

      It doesn’t seem to work as a link, however it works just fine as cut-and-pasted text. It’s a definition and defense of masculinity against the constant slander it is subjected to in the popular culture.

  11. Comment by tmbridgeland:

    …Two angels follow me unseen as I walk, and I live in a world of exorcists and barefoot friars, muses and prophets, healers who lay on hands, mighty spiritual warriors hidden in crippled bodies, and fallen angels made of pure malicious
    spirit obeying their damned and darkened Sultan from his darkest throne in hell. And I live in a world where a holy child was born beneath a magic star secretly as king, and the animals knelt and prayed. And from that dread king that small child will save us….

    Umm. Mr Wright, can I take this and use it? Please?

  12. Comment by ERaskob:

    Two angels? I know that each of us has a guardian angel, but this is the first time I’ve heard of two.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      It is part of an old poem:
      When at night I go to sleep,
      Fourteen angels watch do keep,
      Two my head are guarding,
      Two my feet are guiding;
      Two upon my right hand,
      Two upon my left hand.
      Two who warmly cover
      Two who o’er me hover,
      Two to whom ’tis given
      To guide my steps to heaven.

      There is an older tradition that speaks of the fourteen saints called the Holy Helpers, whose prayer is too long to quote here in full (

      Fourteen Holy Helpers,
      St. George, valiant Martyr of Christ,
      St. Blaise, zealous bishop and benefactor of the poor,
      St. Erasmus, mighty protector of the oppressed,
      St. Pantaleon, miraculous exemplar of charity,
      St. Vitus, special protector of chastity,
      St. Christophorus, mighty intercessor in dangers,
      St. Dionysius, shining mirror of faith and confidence,
      St. Cyriacus, terror of Hell,
      St. Achatius, helpful advocate in death,
      St. Eustachius, exemplar of patience in adversity,
      St. Giles, despiser of the world,
      St. Margaret, valiant champion of the Faith,
      St. Catherine, victorious defender of the Faith and of purity,
      St. Barbara, mighty patroness of the dying,
      All ye Saints of God,
      In temptations against faith,
      In adversity and trials,
      In anxiety and want,
      In every combat,
      In every temptation,
      In sickness,
      In all needs,
      In fear and terror ,
      In dangers of salvation,
      In dangers of honor,
      In dangers of reputation,
      In dangers of property,
      In dangers by fire and water ,
      Be merciful, spare us, O Lord!
      Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Lord!

      • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

        I wish we prayed these litanies more often than at the Easter Vigil.

        Mr. Wright, if you don’t mind me asking, do you attend the Traditional Latin Mass?

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          I don’t mind, and I do.

          • Comment by The Next-to-Last Samurai:

            I would like to go to one of those someday (one of the few things I’m too young for is to remember the pre-Vatican II Church).

            I don’t understand why V II switched to the vernacular. To me it seems logical that one holy CATHOLIC church should pray in the same language, so you can assist at Mass wherever you happen to be. I don’t think it makes any difference whether THE language is Latin, English, Korean, or what-have-you, but it ought to be universal.

            OK, I’m going to go walk the Hounds. Here, Fiend! Come on, Angle!

            • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

              If you’re amenable to change, have you considered using the name “Penultimate Samurai”? Penultimate is a great word that I simply do not have sufficient opportunity to use.

              • Comment by The Next-to-Last Samurai:

                I’ve thought about it, but I also occasionally leave remarks on sites where not everyone may get it. But feel free to address me as Penultimate. Penny for short.

            • Comment by Raphael:

              I used to go to mass in the Extraordinary Form when I lived in a city and could choose where I went; I think it helped me to understand what the mass is about in a new way. Now I live at the Edge of Beyond and have to take what I can get.

              I don’t think it was bad that the Church (or, at any rate, the Latin Rite) used to pray in one language. There’s much to be said for it. At the same time, the Apostles were heard to speak the languages of their hearers at Pentecost, reversing the scattering of the nations at Babel, and I can see the wisdom in having a Church adaptable enough to reach people where they’re at. I’m thinking especially of the global south here.

              Incidentally, I’ve been to Ordinary Form masses in English, Spanish, Latin, and Italian, to Byzantine masses in Greek, etc., and I never felt that I couldn’t follow what was happening or participate fully.

              I live in Texas, close to the border with Mexico, about ten miles from where the first high mass was said in the state, by a Spanish expedition in 1675. It’s my dream to have a Latin mass here, where English- and Spanish-speakers could come together as a mark of unity. But it’s a lot of extra work for the priest, and we have only one for a very large parish and school…

              • Comment by Bobby Trosclair:

                Sadly, we just lost one priest who provided the Latin Mass in an impoverished neighborhood in Phoenix, as he was murdered and his fellow priest was critically injured after what appears to be a burglary attempt by a person or persons unknown.


                Pray for them.

              • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

                The good news is that there is a lot of interest in TLM among the young priests and seminarians. They’ve been living the bad things that came out of the Vatican 2 era* their whole lives and now have an appreciation for what should not have been thrown out, and for what we’ve lost because of it.

                *I’m not trying to say V2 was inherently bad, that’s another can of worms, but there’s no arguing that it was used as an excuse to do a whole lot of really foolish things and as a result caused a ridiculous amount of harm.

                Furthermore, while it wasn’t the cause of these problems, most of which already existed, it was definitely a focal point in history for the spread of Modernism.

            • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

              Mr. Wright, I would have been surprised if you didn’t. :-)


              I can understand why they thought changing to the vernacular would be a good idea (but I’m not sure it was).

              However, what I can’t understand is why, when they translated the Mass to English, they left so much of it out, and watered down most of the rest. (Yes, the Eucharistic Prayer #2 dates back to the second century, and it’s very good, but it’s so abbreviated compared to the #1 which is based on the Tridentine Mass. Our pastor says he always prefers #1 unless he’s pressed for time. #3 has some cool scriptural references (in addition to the obvious), but again, it leaves out a lot…)

              Our parish started offering the TLM several years ago, and now they have it every week at the chapel, which was the original church (we now have a new, much larger one). Normally I sing with the choir at the same time, but I sing with the Schola every third Sunday, so I get a chance to get my Latin on.

              Unlike our gracious host, my education was light on the liberal arts and heavy on the math and science, so I never studied Latin, but I’ve started picking up a lot and have gotten to the point where I’ve actually recognized a couple of the readings from the Latin (the TLM readings follow a different schedule than the Novus Ordo).

              I first figured this out about 20 years ago when a friend lent me a copy of Verdi’s Requiem Mass and I read the translation.

              Mind == Blown. “Dies Irae” indeed.

              So much reverence, so much beauty, so much mystery has been obscured or lost in the new translation. They made a couple of concessions to this (e.g., reintroducing “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”) about 3 years ago, but it’s just drops in the ocean compared to what’s still missing.

              I don’t hate the NO like so many traddies. When offered with reverence and without novelty, it is very beautiful and edifying. But the TLM makes me feel much more connected with the tremendous history of the Church, which let’s face it, only exists because of the work of the Holy Spirit, otherwise it would have been run into a ditch after a very short time.

              Back on topic: My wife might consider herself a “feminist” in the original meaning of the word, in that she wishes for women to be treated with respect and not marginalized or objectified, but that also means that she is opposed to pretty much everything modern “feminism”. She will readily pledge submission to her husband as the head of the household, but that doesn’t mean I dictate what she does or overrule her decisions. If I were to ask (and I’m too embarrassed), it probably means she lets a lot more stuff slide than she should, but I’ve always seen it as she’s the CEO and I’m the Chairman of the Board, and we seldom disagree on anything important anyway. We compliment each other, and especially dealing with the kids (14, 16, 18, and 20), I see how her feminine strengths compliment my masculine weaknesses, and vice versa, on a daily basis (as was the case with my parents).

              The biggest problem I see with our society is not the men vs. women thing, but the fact that so many people are simply never becoming adults in the first place (and I’m guilty of that in some ways, too).

              • Comment by johnedko:

                Okay, I had to comment here. I listen to books on tape on my way into the office and am mostly through with James Earl Jones reading the King James bible (not that good of a choice – sometimes it sounds like Darth Vader is reading the Acts). Anyhow – there is actually part of a letter (I think Corinthians) that talks about language and says that preaching should be in a language that everyone can understand – which I can see as being good so everyone can follow that mass. (On the other hand, the next chapter talked about how women shouldn’t talk in church and should ask their husbands questions at home – I think that chapter is out of the airlock).

                That aside, (in my 40’s) I now find myself with a strong desire to connect with first Latin and also for a TLM (yes, I went through Catholic school – but Latin was not offered – which I now think was a mistake. I probably need to teach my kids latin as well (girls 3, 6, 9) – anyone interested in help in NW NJ?)…

                So question #1: Anyone have recommendations on a book to start learning Latin? Anyone use Rosetta Stone for Latin?

                Question #2: Anyone else unhappy with the new translations for “peace to men of good will” (what about everyone else?) and “my *soul* shall be healed” (what happened to *I* will be healed, body and soul? Did God’s power get downgraded while I wasn’t looking? The second one bothers me more (right at the Eucharist) – and I still say the old one – “I shall be healed”.

                Anyway, thanks for a place to come where saying I am Catholic is not something that others view as a disability.


                • Comment by John C Wright:

                  “Anyone else unhappy with the new translation?”

                  Yes; the new translations are literal hence leaden, and sadly in need of some King James styling. That is why I prefer the Latin mass. I cannot stand saying “the living and the dead” rather than “quick and the dead.” (I read so many old books, the older English sounds normal to me.)

                  • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

                    There’s a fine line between a correct translation and a poetic translation, but I would prefer either one over a translation that leaves half of it out.

                    With regard to question 2, “my soul” is more “correct” because the Latin is:

                    Domine, non sum dignus
                    ut intres sub tectum meum,
                    sed tantum dic verbo
                    et sanabitur anima mea.

                    Nevertheless, I can see how “I” is more aesthetically pleasing.

                    However, I appreciate the return of the mention of “enter[ing] under my roof”, because it recalls the words of the centurion who uttered this plea.

                    So I would place more importance on the “not leaving stuff out” part of translation than on the “express the thought more elegantly” aspect, although there’s no good reason why both can’t be exercised…

                    … et cum spiritu tuo.

                    • Comment by John C Wright:

                      But the word, in older English, ‘receive’ means ‘receive as a guest (i.e. under one’s roof)’.

                      ‘And also with you’ has a nice ring to it: “May the Force be with you — And also with you.” is easy to say in rhythm and ends on a beat. “May the Force be with you — And with your spirit.” has a feminine ending, two soft beats.

                      More accurate, yes, but therefore more leaden and dull in English. That is the nature of translations. And modern English is uglier and duller than older English, because most of the expressions now called archaic were actually quite succinct and clear:

                    • Comment by Xena Catolica:

                      Well, I usually attend the EF, but I think the new translation is less than ideal in spots but still a great improvement. The reasonable objection to a poetic translation, or a deliberately archaic translation where the older use is more succinct and clear as Our Host proposes below, is the Latin. The Mass is not written in poetic Latin–neither the vocabulary nor the composition strive for elegance or artistry. Latin is inherently succinct and clear, and English isn’t. It may have been more succinct and clear 150 yrs. ago than it is now, but it hasn’t been tidy since the Norman Conquest. The case could be made for a translation more pleasing to the ear, but with the recognition it’s introducing an element that didn’t much concern those who put the Latin together.

                    • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

                      A good reason, I’ve been told, for keeping the Latin is that Latin isn’t evolving. It always means the same thing, so there’s no need to worry about translations, and more importantly having to revise the translations.

                      Plus, as we’ve seen in this little microcosm, no translation will please everyone. :-)

                • Comment by robertjwizard:

                  I have Wheelock’s Latin and the workbook book. For the three weeks I was on it (before I dashed off to do something else) it was good.

                  I was going to do the Rosetta course until I researched it. Here is a quote for their Latin course:

                  Quickly gain the confidence to enjoy social interactions such as greetings and introductions, travel, dining out, giving and getting directions, shopping and other recreational activities.

                  I would love to order my food in Latin, but I like screwing with people.

                  You won’t be doing any of that – you’ll be using it for mass or the Vulgate.

                  If you want to learn Finnish, I’d say Rosetta would be the way to go.

                  We’re also talking of the difference between $350 and $30.

                  • Comment by johnedko:

                    Thanks! I will look up Wheelock’s Latin.

                    And, yes, I do like the reference to the Centurion with the roof portion.

                    Also, I wasn’t sure about the “quick and the dead” reference above, but on the drive in today – (again King James) – wouldn’t you know it – there was a line that used the “quick and the dead” (in Hebrews maybe? It is hard to keep place while driving on I-80 at 70mph).


                    • Comment by Tom Simon:

                      I can second the recommendation for Wheelock’s Latin. Barbarus sum illiteratusque brutusque, but what little I know of Latin I got from Wheelock, with which I persevered to the end. It will bring you up to the point where you can actually read and appreciate the simpler Latin literature; beyond that requires practice and experience. (In other words, don’t start with Tacitus, who can write a chapter with only one verb, or Horace, who makes every sentence stand on its head for the sake of the metre.)

              • Comment by MissJean:

                I’ll give you a short answer to your vernacular question: conversion. Several of my friends and relatives would not be Catholic if it weren’t for hearing, seeing, and UNDERSTANDING while attending a Mass for a funeral or a wedding. Yes, people are drawn to the strange and exotic, so maybe Latin would be a lure to some, but Catholicism is – pardon the expression – a holistic system of belief being lived out in everyday life.

                Incidently, my favourite part of the bad translation is “We wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Lord.”

  13. Ping from A Speech and a Couple Paragraphs on Romance « Yard Sale of the Mind:

    […] Mr. Wright (and do follow the link and read the whole […]

  14. Comment by simplemind:

    My parish priest, a very wise old man, has a great sermon about being Christian.

    He talks about the Man of La Manche (do not watch the movie, download the soundtrack from the Broadway musical awesome.) His pithy synopsis of the Quixote story: He (Quixote the hero) is crazy; Is he crazy? I’m crazy. The characters surrounding Quixote view him differently over time. At first he’s a madman. With more exposure to him, people being to wonder if he isn’t on to something, and in the end, they (and the audience) see the value in honor, virtue and morality. If we, as Christians, live as we ought, the world will not change, but people will. One person at a time. Love that guy. Truly.

  15. Comment by Bobby Trosclair:

    This essay was so enjoyable it got quoted in a thread on Tolkien and conversion:

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Wow, that is rather nice! Odd and arrogant as this sounds, those quotes sound rather profound and poetic, which they did not sound to me when I wrote them. Maybe when the quotes are taken out of context, not surrounded by my usual nonsense and digression, they read better.

  16. Comment by Lisieux:

    I think it’s such an effective piece because you were channelling Chesterton. I know you’ll take that as the compliment it’s meant to be.

    • Comment by Montague:

      It channels Chesterton, but it also channels… well, Mr. Wright. Who is great enough to summon that dread and jolly genii of journalism, himself has the wisdom of some modern Suleiman, the genius (Romantic sense) of some Faust. The flavor of sword and sorcery, of fantasies set on blasted planets or in severed galaxy-arms is strong with this one.

      But praise aside, I think Mr. Wright has a distinctly more combative tone than Chesterton. If I might offer a poetic conjecture, I think that when Chesterton escaped the pale tomb of modernity, he found even the swords as glad and bright as flowers; while Mr. Wright, if I may be so impudent as to guess, finds even the flowers to be swords to cut his foes… but I am not sure.

      Ah! here’s better. GKC is Jovial, Mr. Wright Martian – Perelandra style. He is a planet of misfortune for our foes. His sword is cold as snow and sharp as icicles, but it is red with blood and iron.

      That’s my two cents. They may be useless Canadian cents, though…

  17. Comment by dsaltarelli:

    Ohh, he said “the Cathedral”… dun dun duuuuuuuuunnnnnn!

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