Authority and rebellion

John Adams is one of my heroes. Why? Because he was an American patriot who defied the mob, defending the harassed British soldiers in the Boston “massacre” trials. It is doubtful that a man of his character and independence will ever be elected president again.

Mobs are inherently dangerous and not to be trusted: therefore my instincts are always on the side of authority. Whenever I read a news story about a riot, a protest march, a strike, or an insurgency, the first thing I look for is some kind of moral justification for the rebellion. Increasingly, none is offered. Perhaps journalists think that the mere fact of lots of people desiring a change is its own justification. Desire is enough.

Rebellion can sometimes be justified on moral grounds, but today we live in a culture of rebellion in which justifications are irrelevant. Authority is never given the benefit of the doubt. Majorities are simply assumed to be right by virtue of being majorities. Individuals with power or authority are assumed to be villains, especially when they refuse to kow-tow to popular desires. In such a culture it is almost impossible to distinguish the good rebellion from the myriad of petty, malicious, arbitrary, vengeful, envious, and greed-driven rebellions everywhere.

I pity anyone with authority today. America’s most popular pastime is to hurl mindless criticism and abuse at authority figures (I am not exempt from this damnable habit). There is nothing more popular in America today than standing around the water cooler badmouthing one’s employer, one’s government, or one’s church. For an individual to exercise authority is to risk becoming a martyr in our culture. That is, unless you sell out to the mob, which many do.

On the other hand, there is a sense in which our anti-authoritarian culture delivers a kind of poetic justice. Many of our leaders are themselves rebels and/or usurpers. They use their authority to foment rebellion, are contemptuous of their own superiors, and in some cases they acquired their positions through acts of sedition. Having shown little respect for authority themselves, they receive little respect in their turn. Such men will never seek to create a culture of respect for authority because that would incriminate their own actions. Democracy = perpetual revolution and rebellion.

As a practical matter, the formula for restoration is rather simple. Give respect and deference to the authorities God has placed over you, no matter how unworthy in your eyes – be it your president, your governor, your city council, your highway patrolman, your priest, or your employer. To these we owe obedience in all things lawful. We owe them respect even when they make prudential mistakes. We are to “bear wrongs patiently” when there is an occasional injustice. Granted: at some point there can be so much abuse that rebellion is necessary, even obligatory. That hour may well be approaching fast. When that hour comes, if you have lived a life that is deeply respectful of authority, your “rebellion” will arise from grave necessity rather than habit; it will be meaningful and persuasive, not just another tantrum of the spoiled mob.

The Death of the Grown-up

There will be no cultural recovery, no restoration, until America gets over its infatuation with perpetual adolescence. In this Michelle Malkin interview with Diana West, the author of “The Death of the Grown-up” argues that the decline of adulthood (and the resulting erosion of childhood) really began in the 1950s – not the 1960s as many conservatives like to think. I have a theory about that. The 1950s are inextricably tied to the birth of rock music, which is one of the primary forces responsible for “the death of the grown-up”. Conservatives who have a “hands off” attitude about the 1950s are usually motivated by their addiction to rock-n-roll.

Anyway, enjoy the interview:

Courtesy of Man With Black Hat.

More Orland photos

A picturesque house in town, one block from St. Dominic’s.

Here’s a place that The Western Confucian will recognize.

The Carnegie Community Center in Library Park.

Looking west towards downtown. The Coast Range mountains are in the background.

The window display in one of Orland’s downtown shops.

Many homes in Orland are small and modest, but not without character.

Pope John XXIII on Latin

In the light of Summorum Pontificum and the return of the traditional Latin Mass, now might be a good time for Catholics to get re-acquainted with what the Church teaches about the Latin language. Here’s what Blessed John XXIII – the Pope who convened the Second Vatican Council -wrote in his great Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia:

“Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all.

Nor must we overlook the characteristic nobility of Latin’s formal structure. Its ‘concise, varied and harmonious style, full of majesty and dignity’ makes for singular clarity and impressiveness of expression …

Furthermore, the Church’s language must be not only universal but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.

But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. It has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use …

Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.”

A Nickel Tour of Orland

A view looking south on 4th Street, Orland’s official “downtown”. You will notice that all the cars are parked, even at 10:00am on a weekday. This scene is not unusual.

The Kountry Kitchen on 4th Street is Orland’s main gathering spot.

Also on 4th Street you will find City Hall, the Police Department, the Post Office, and PG&E. It’s hard to go downtown without bumping into someone you know.

This bar was never one of Orland’s more respectable establishments (it was recently shut down by the state), but the bullfight mural is pretty neat.

Orland Hardware on 5th Street is a very frequent stop of mine.

We dream of the day when the Latin Mass returns to St. Dominic’s. The church is always open during the day, even when no one seems to be around. It’s a good place to stop in and say a prayer.

A typical alley in town.

A goat-farming family on Road 19 has maintained this shrine for as long as we’ve been here.

Signs with Christian messages are common in the Orland area. This one belongs to a homestead on Road 20.

St. Joseph and Real Estate

Perhaps this borders on superstition, but overall I regard it as a very good sign: St. Joseph is helping Sacramentans sell their homes. From today’s Sacramento Bee (registration required):

“Call it folklore or divine intervention, but the practice of burying a tiny statue of St. Joseph, patron saint of carpenters and helper of home sellers, is thriving in Sacramento’s decidedly cool real estate market.

Catholic retailers say the little statues are flying off their shelves as the once-robust Sacramento-area housing market has slowed and driven the average time on the market up to 69 days. The peculiar phenomenon seems to run in stride with chilly markets: It flourished during slow times in the 1980s, mushroomed again during the 1990s housing slump and now is again booming and growing well beyond its Catholic roots.

Even the Sacramento Association of Realtors store on Howe Avenue sells St. Joseph …”

I have my own St. Joseph stories. Just before entering the Catholic Church, I found myself unemployed and looking for work. Someone suggested that I pray a novena to St. Joseph, the patron of fathers and workers. I spent maybe a couple of hours one evening sending resumes over the internet. As a result I received just one phone call. That one phone call resulted in a job that met my salary requirements to the penny. I was hired on May 1, 2000, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

Not long after that we learned that the diocese was going to give our Latin Mass community a church of its own, which was to become St. Stephen the First Martyr. Our community had been praying a perpetual novena to St. Joseph for this specific intention.

We immediately decided to sell our home and move closer to the new church. We again prayed a novena to St. Joseph. A few days into the novena we received three offers simultaneously. One of these was $30,000 more than our asking price. We opened escrow on March 19, the traditional Feast of St. Joseph, and moved into our new home on May 1, the other Feast of St. Joseph.

St. Joseph now has a permanent place in our devotional life. He is truly the patron of fathers and families, and he really does seem to take a peculiar interest in real estate.

Certainly it is wrong to call upon St. Joseph in a frivolous or superstitious manner. Take some time to learn something about him. Get familiar with the many devotions and prayers the Church has approved. And if you are going to ask him for help, be prepared to follow him all the way …

TLM Returns to Cathedral in Sacramento

The Mass of the Roman Rite in the Extraordinary Form, in conformity with

Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum, will be celebrated at the Cathedral

of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento, California at 7:30pm on October 12, 2007.

The Solemn High Mass will honor the 90 year anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun

at Fatima, and will be followed by a candlelight Rosary and Benediction of the

Blessed Sacrament, in reparation for abortion, and in supplication for its end.

The Tuscan Aquifer


Ever hear of the Tuscan Aquifer? That’s the underground reservoir that supplies much of the water for Butte, Glenn, and Tehama counties. The massive “lower” level of this aquifer remains largely untapped because of its depth. A local blogger has a beginner’s course here and here:

“The saturated area of underground substrate (a substrate can be rock, gravel, sand, silt, clay etc.) from which water can be extracted is called an aquifer. The aquifer beneath Chico (and beyond) is called the Tuscan Aquifer. It is named for the ‘Tuscan Formation,’ which are layers of deposits (rock, soil, sand) from ancient streams and volcanic mudflows. (I don’t know who named it the ‘Tuscan,’ though perhaps there is a similar geological formation in the Tuscany area of Italy).

The Tuscan Aquifer is big, though it is hard to be precise regarding its size and shape. Imagine a massive blob of saturated substrate beneath Butte, Tehama, and Glenn Counties, extending to depths of over 1000 feet, containing an estimated 10 times the amount of water as the capacity of Lake Oroville …People move to Chico to go to college, escape the Bay Area, or perhaps to take a job. Other folks might make a list of all the things they are looking for in a town, such as bikeability, sunny weather, a vibrant downtown, attractive city parks, and easy access to mountains and wild areas, and realize that Chico might be the place they want to be. But there are a few folks that move here because of the Tuscan Aquifer …”