Glenn County General Plan

I haven’t been following the progress of the Glenn County General Plan, but I like the notes on the website thus far:

“County’s vision of what the future of Glenn County will look like. Defining Glenn County as place that wants or does not want to grow. Why live in Glenn County – centrally located within northern California and a rural setting.

People will not be boxed up, they will be able to spread out and their social needs will be not be controlled by others.

 Rural agriculture feeling. Agricultural lifestyle. Close to agriculture.Back to roots, etc.’

Lower population compared to southern California.

 Family friendly.

 Scenic rural setting. Rural community. Small town lifestyle. Be considered a small community. Still be considered a farming county.

Sense of place.

Growth of ‘new’ communities in county and how it impacts existing communities; New tracts and developments, both commercial and residential, need to have style – flair of design- we do not want to look like every other place; Build on heritage; Identify unique quality that identifies our towns.

Maintain rural ambiance while accommodating more people. While some growth is needed, it should not be at the expense of one of our major assets – the creation around us. Maintain a ‘rural feel’ in our communities while accepting and embracing ‘smart’ growth.

      Big is not always better.

Property owners should be able to down size in more areas of the county.

Letting large parcels split i.e. 20 acres to 5 acres and 5 acre to 1 acre instead of 6 lots per acre.”

That last sentence warms my heart. Excellent.


Silicon Valley and home

I returned yesterday from a 2-day business trip in Santa Clara. As big cities go, I like the place. The neighborhoods are pleasant, and the people are friendlier than anywhere else in the Bay Area. The first evening I had dinner at a hotel restaurant. My waitress was very young, quite nervous and obviously inexperienced. She tried very hard to smile and to be courteous and attentive. She accidentally spilled my martini, but it didn’t matter. It helped that she looked a little like my own daughter, because that reminded me that she was some other fellow’s daughter, which made me want to make up for the rude and hyper-critical customers who end up sending new waitresses home in tears. By the end of the meal, she was beaming, and I left a thank-you note on the ticket in the hopes that her manager would see it.

The next evening I had my truck serviced at Jiffy Lube, and the young men were just as friendly and helpful as they are here at home. Jiffy Lube has a really good system (in northern California, anyway) and somehow they manage to hire the best. Other services are suggested without any pressure, and sometimes these suggestions are good reminders. A job at Jiffy Lube would be a great place for a young man to get his start in the workforce.

While getting my truck serviced I walked across El Camino Real to OfficeMax for a small purchase. As I was checking out, a woman came in to ask an employee if there was anyone who could help her with an item she needed to return. It was in the trunk of her car, and was too heavy for her to carry by herself. The employees were pretty busy so I told her I’d be happy to do it. She thanked me so profusely for my 2 minutes of help it really caught me off guard. Gratitude for the little things in life: it’s great to see, and it’s infectious.

I was in Santa Clara to attend a certification class for business brokers. Contracts, valuations, financing, and other mundane details were covered extensively. The instructor placed a strong emphasis on business ethics and improving the image of our profession. Unfortunately – this being California and all – much of the seminar had to do with preventing lawsuits from disgruntled buyers after the sale. The business brokers in attendance seemed to be a decent lot. From what I could tell they were well trained and conscientious. The lunches were also excellent, and sure enough, they served fish on Friday. That’s still a common practice in the coastal regions of Catholic California.

It is always amusing when I meet people in the big cities. The first conversation often goes something like this:

“Nice meeting you, Jeff. Where are you from?”


“Orland? Where’s that?”

“It’s about three hours north of here, in Glenn County.”

“Glenn County? Gosh, I haven’t heard of it. What’s the biggest city in the county?”

“Orland. Population 7,000.”

“REALLY? Is it anywhere near Ukiah? Eureka? Yreka?”

“No, the closest real city is Chico, which is about 25 miles to the east.”

“Oooohhhhhhh, I’ve heard of Chico!!!!! That’s where Chico State University is, the party school, right?”

“That’s right. So where are you from?”

In the Silicon Valley, there is a strong sense that one is at the very center of the universe. This, of course, is an illusion, but the people (even visitors like me) can’t help but sense the economic and scientific and technological importance of the place. The median price of a single family home is still over $700K. Everywhere you look you see millions of dollars being spent. Every corporate lobby looks like an ultra-modern hi-tech lounge aboard the Starship Enterprise. People take their laptops and blackberries everywhere. There is an amazing amount of ethnic diversity and relatively little ethnic friction. Many different languages are spoken, but English is still the glue that holds it all together, and it will remain so. The most elevated passion of the Silicon Valley is business. The “all business, all the time” culture is both disturbing and, for me, seductive, because I can see how easy it would be to get caught up in the excitement.

The saddest thing about the place is that children are so scarce.

While driving back home the traffic on I-680 was horrible. I-80 was even more congested. As I headed north on I-505 from Vacaville, the traffic thinned out and the suburbs receded, giving way to unending acres of fields and farmland. Suddenly there wasn’t a Lexus or a BMW or a Jaguar in sight. I was back in the great Central Valley, the land of plain-looking sedans, minivans, pickup trucks, tractors, and ATVs. I located a country music station on the radio just to make sure I was really there.

Driving through dusty old Orland I was glad to see the sign announcing Sunday’s spaghetti feed benefiting the Glenn County Senior Center. Think we’ll stop in for an early dinner after the 2:30 Mass. As I pulled into our gravel driveway I noted the condition of the pasture and the fruit orchard, hoping that they hadn’t browned too much in my absence. Irrigation would be late by a day or two. The chickens were out of their yard, and a few were on the front lawn. Someone must have forgotten to shut the gate last night. I jumped out of the truck and loudly chased the chickens away, exaggerating my displeasure for the benefit of the kids, who always laugh when I do that.

The children came out to tell me, excitedly, that they had a surprise for me. They told me to close my eyes. Two of them grabbed my arms and commanded that I follow them with my eyes closed tight. I obeyed compliantly. A moment or two later I was instructed to open my eyes. When I did so, Amy was holding four tiny black and white kittens in her hands, just inches from my nose.

“Misty had kittens!” they all exclaimed. “You have got to be kidding me!”, I replied in mock despair. That brings St. Isidore’s cat population up to 12, or maybe it’s 15, but either way it is TOO MANY! Nevertheless, it’s good to be home …

The Oath Against Modernism

September 1 was the 97th Anniversary of the Oath Against Modernism, once required of all Catholic priests; September 8 was the 100th anniversary of the anti-modernist encyclical Pascendi Dominic Gregis; and September 3 was the feast of their author, Pope St. Pius X, according to the traditional calendar. Stony Creek Digest, a purportedly traditionalist blog, did not bother to mention any of these. So in commemoration of them all, we now reprint the still VERY relevant Oath Against Modernism in the hopes that faithful Catholics will remain alert to this heresy.


Given by His Holiness St. Pius X September 1, 1910.

To be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries.

I . . . . firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day.

And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (see Rom. 1:90), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated:

Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time.

Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time.

Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely.

Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our creator and lord.

Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas.

I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion.

I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality-that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful.

Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm.

Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.

Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact-one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history-the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles.

I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.

I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God. . .

Pavarotti Returned to the Catholic Faith

Wonderful news from the Catholic press this morning: The great tenor Luciano Pavarotti returned to the Faith before he died:

“The diocese had received criticisms that it had gone overboard in honoring a remarried divorcee. But Pavarotti’s parish priest, Fr. Remo Sartori, said the twice-married singer had been reconciled with the Catholic faith, reported the Sydney Morning Herald. Pavarotti had received the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick before losing his battle against pancreatic cancer last Thursday, aged 71.”

Religion in the north state

I grew up (mostly) in Butte County, and in those years neighboring Glenn County had a reputation for being much more religious. When we’d visit my grandparents in Orland, it was often mentioned that the town had an unusually large number of churches for such a small community. For many years there was a sign just off the freeway as you pulled into town, welcoming visitors and listing every house of worship – all Christian, I might add, except for the Mormons.

The Association of Religious Data Archives provide some interesting county-by-county statistics. With the data provided I was able to confirm Glenn County’s longstanding reputation. Here are the census 2000 stats for Glenn, Butte, Tehama, and Colusa Counties, in which congregational membership (as opposed to religious belief) was measured:

Glenn County

Total Population 26,453
Congregational membership 13,104
Roman Catholic 6,718
* 50% belong to a religious congregation
* Catholics are 51% of congregational membership
* Catholics are 25% of total population

Butte County 

Total population 203,171
Congregational membership  62,151
Roman Catholic 19,483
* 31% belong to a religious congregation
* Catholics are 31% of congregational membership
* Catholics are 10% of total population

Tehama County

Total population 56,039
Congregational membership 17,639
Roman Catholic 7,778
* 31% belong to a religious congregation
* Catholics are 44% of congregational membership
* Catholics are 14% of total population

Colusa County

Total population 18,804
Congregational membership  6,165
Roman Catholic 3,255
* 33% belong to a religious congregation
* Catholics are 53% of congregational membership
* Catholics are 17% of total population

America Needs a Huong Lan

The legendary Vietnamese singer Huong Lan captured my heart many years ago. I’ve probably listened to this enchanting ballad at least a hundred times. Huong Lan’s amazing voice, so melodical and serene, handles the distinctive intonations of her language with a native ease that always seems surprising. In this voice the Vietnamese soul finds its perfect musical expression, although this particular recording does not do her justice.

America needs a Huong Lan, a similarly gifted singer who is female, feminine, modest, and respectful – an authentically traditional artist who can charm this nation out of the cultural sewer it has chosen to wallow in. Unfortunately our own folk tradition was never fully developed. What we do have has either been eclipsed by the seductive rot of pop culture (jazz, rock, rap, and all the rest of it), or hijacked for political purposes by the imposters of the ’60s and ’70s.

The closest thing we Americans have to genuine folk music is bluegrass and country music. Bluegrass is certainly authentic enough, but due to historical circumstances it isn’t often beautiful. Country music started off with more potential in the beauty department, but today it is over-commericalized and lacking in authenticity. Commercialization isn’t necessarily a problem when people retain a non-commerical culture, but in the land where Herbert Hoover could say “the business of America is business”, commercialization is the death of culture.

Watch this video and catch a glimpse of what happens when a real traditional culture encounters modernity but is not swallowed by it. Apart from the tacky disco lights, what I see is a healthy synthesis. There are young and old in the audience, the men are conservatively dressed and wearing neckties, and Huong Lan herself is dressed in the lovely traditional Vietnamese ao dai. She has a highly trained and disciplined voice, excellent posture, a subtle and graceful manner – perfection, or nearly so. She’s aiming for something elevated and objective – for beauty rather than emotion, novelty, or shock value. It’s reminiscent of an earlier time in America, when popular singers like Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Doris Day, Patty Page and others were artists first and entertainers second.

If you’re hooked, here’s more Huong Lan at The New Beginning.

Fred Reed on “A New Improved America”

Fred Reed’s perspective is always interesting, usually provocative, and often filled with insights only an ex-pat can see. His observations of the latest American social trends (see column 361) are worth noting.

In particular …

“… Powerful domestic hostilities grip the United States. Maybe you have to be outside of it really to see it. I live in Mexico. You can go for…well, five years and counting, without hearing angry talk about this or that group. In America, women hate men and men are getting sick of American women. Blacks hate whites hate Hispanics. ‘Affirmative action’ engenders intense hatred that doesn’t go away. It isn’t the normal friction found in any country.”

“… The bullying of people entering the US. Any country has the right to determine who enters. Fine. If you don’t want them to enter, don’t give them visas. If you issue a visa, try to be courteous.”

” … The increasing, detailed, intrusive regulation of life, the national desire for control, control, control. Everything is the business of some form of government. Want to paint your shutters? The condo association won’t let you. Let dogs in your bar? Never. Decide who to sell your house to? Racial matter. Own a dog? Shot card, pooper-scooper, leash, gotta be spayed, etc. Have a bar for men only, women only, whites or blacks only? Here come the federal marshals. What isn’t controlled by government is controlled by the crypto-vindictive mob rule of political correctness. This wasn’t always in the American character.”

“… Add the continuing presence of police in the schools, the arrest in handcuffs of children of seven, the expulsions for drawing a picture of a soldier with a gun. Something very twisted is going on.”

With respect to government regulations, having just come out in favor of local ordinances requiring people to hold their pants up, I expect to be accused of hypocrisy (or at least inconsistency). But Reed is observing a phenomenon that goes much deeper than “regulations bad, freedom good”.

The point is that we are observing a creeping totalitarianism in those complex areas of life where tradition and common sense ordinarily suffice.

Conversely, in those areas where tradition and common sense are insufficient because of a troublesome minority (the britches thing), the right of local governments to enforce community standards is opposed in the name of “freedom” and/or “tolerance”.

The root of the problem is not government intervention or the lack thereof. The root of the problem is the absence of unifying cultural standards which make community life tolerable. In other words, the demise of inherited customs, habits, and mores both invites government intervention where it isn’t needed, and prevents the same where it is needed. Hence we are left with the twin evils of creeping totalitarianism on the one hand, and ascending cultural babarism on the other.