Wednesday, March 27, 2013


It is always dismaying when the statements of fact become weaker than the declaration of social status.  It happened the other day when the facts lost out to the status and the status declaration was triggered by a reaction to the “ [fill in the blank] Police.”
The world is full of buffoons.  None, or almost none of whom are more massive than those of the clergy, or the almost clergy, or the wanna be clergy.  Deacons are especially good examples of clerical buffoonery.  They have a very decided proclivity to look down on the laity.  Sometimes, dare I say, often more so than the priests themselves.  It seems as though they feel obliged to assert their newly established selves in the role of an “insider” in the life of the Church.  There is some type of pride that kicks in and makes them proclaim to the world that they are no longer “laity” but “clergy.”
This is especially noticeable in the Catholic church of the 21st century where the mix of highly capable lay people and clergy is fast approaching numbers that favor the laity.  Even the influx of ordained permanent  deacons is not great enough to staunch the trend.  There are many lay people with long term church ministry experience coupled with middle level and even terminal educational degrees who are employed in the parishes to collaborate with the clergy in the mission of the Church.  Few clergy (in the United States anyway) have significant college degrees.  They have spent a lot of time in school but much of the schooling did not lead to a graduation in the secular meaning of the term.  Even fewer of them have degrees that indicate a major in a Church oriented discipline.  So, it is not rare to see a flare of anger from a cleric who is being gainsaid by a lay person.  A paid lay person.  On the same staff.  Yes, a paid professional with as much or even more ministerial experience and education than the cleric. 

Sadly the flare sometimes comes at a moment when a seemingly insignificant item is at issue.  And come, it does and it matters not who may or may not be witnessing the episode. 

Take the case of the deacon and the lay person who got entangled over an issue of ritual correctness.  The deacon was making a clear mistake in the directives that he was giving to a group of people who were to participate in a liturgy scheduled for the Easter Vigil ceremonies.  The deacon was expounding a ritual sequence wildly off the mark.  Now, All communications about this matter have been clear, concise, timely and very, very official.  The lay person in charge of the overall management of the liturgy was present at the time and made an intervention concerning the erroneous nature of the directives given by the deacon.  He took great offense at being called out by the “Liturgy Police” and immediately lost his cool and in a trice, after a quick exchange of cross words he ended the exchange by declaring himself “the clergy.”  It doesn’t end there. 
The lay person sent the clergyman the history of the communications as well as copies of the actual documents now in full force.  No response to that, but a good dose of vitriolic invective as a response.  Through it all, he remains “the clergy” and she remains “the laity.”  He rermains "right" and she, "wrong" and the flash-fast explosion of anger was lit by her.

A quick repartee about the “Liturgy Police.”  First, the only individuals who fear or dislike the police are those who know that they are not doing the right thing and are unhappy that they got caught at it.  Not a very brightly glowing endorsement for the clergyman in this case.  In fact it is as clear a self indictment as one could hope to find. 
This truth makes the tidal wave of self exculpating arguments laughable at best and disgusting at worst.  In this case the overwhelming stream of pseudo theology containing no logic, many reinforcing emotional repetitions and some pseudo psychological assertions are a combination of both, buffoonery and malice.  Just like the person who runs the red light spills out all over the citing officer.  Same attitude, same result.  
A right remains right and erroneous remains erroneous.
The other thought that I have is about the deacon clergy [I know that’s a coined term].   I’m against it.  If married men can be ordained to the diaconate, they can be ordained to the priesthood.  I also believe that the Tradition of how deacons came to be is on my side; at least in the way that I have come to look at the tradition of the diaconate.  I’m not against the diaconate.  I am against the clergy-creep that has come about.  Read the story of how deacons came into existence.  (Acts 6: 1 – 7)  Read it.  In a nutshell, deacons came about so that the Apostles could concentrate on spreading the word to the Jews.  They were neglecting the marginalized Greeks (think Gentiles), so they needed some help to run the soup kitchen.  It says clearly, “it isn’t right for us to set aside the proclamation of God’s word in order to serve tables.”  Why do we as Church allow them to operate as mini-priests?  For the greater part, they do not do it well.  For the greater part they are proud to be clergy, they act like clergy, and, in this one case they hammer people with their status and they forget (as does the Church in the US, at least) what their position is in the Apostolic Succession – table servers for the marginalized.
It is my humble opinion that they should stick to serving tables and stay out of the sanctuary.

Saturday, March 02, 2013


I have decided to be polite and refrain from using foul language on these pages.  For the time being.
I have been living in Moreno Valley, California since January of 2005.  In that time I have discovered that it is the worst place in which I have ever made my domicile.  It is strategically placed on the map of the USA with regards the bodily function for which it is best suited.  Believe me, I feel it every single day.

I have come to the conclusion that there are not 3 businesses in this city that can be trusted to deliver a quality product and/or service on time.  Over the eight years that I have lived here I have learned to take my business to other cities for my made-to-order needs.  Moreno Valley has absolutely no concept of quality and punctuality.  It doesn't matter whether it is printing, household appliance installation services or service quotes, prescription drug delivery, barbers, you name it and I can find you a buffoon within a city block.  Not a soul who delivers these things has any concept of how to deal with customer expectations.  I take that back.  There is ONE soul with whom I have been satisfied over time.  ONE.  How's that for a definition of a great place to live?

Several years ago I was living in Rome, Italy.  It was in the sixties, some fifteen years after the War.  Fortunately, I was a student then and I did not have to put too many demands on the business community outside of the sheer basics of life.  I found out that it was a good thing that such was the case.  Rome was not, it turned out, the most customer oriented city on the face of the earth.  The Romans take care of tourists like hardly any other city I have ever been to.  But to long term residents and to each other, they are not that great.  That being said, Rome is like heaven compared to Moreno Valley.

Today, I put the last nail into another coffin in Moreno Valley.  We went to get a picture framed at an enterprise that had been quite satisfactory for the few times that we have patronized them in the last two or three years. Then they showed the dark side of their environment.  First, they did not submit an order [to their factory] that we communicated clearly was a required artifact for an important presentation we were preparing.  
We then negotiated a delivery date and sealed the deal.  When I went to claim the finished product on the appointed date, it was nowhere to be found.  I left with their assurances that they would have it on Tuesday [in three days].  It turned out that they clean forgot that it had not been outsourced yet.  I found that out when I received a telephone call [a miracle in Moreno Valley] saying that they had forgotten to outsource the job.  They did not say that they had not yet found the work order with the receipt.  I told them at the time that we no longer needed the finished product but that we could find other uses for it down the line.  When I asked for the pickup date I was told that it would be ready for pick-up on Saturday.  Today is Saturday.  I went, and of course, it was not there.  The reason, "We only found the work order yesterday.  It should be here sometime tomorrow."  
"Good," I replied.  "When you get it, sell it for two hundred dollars and send me a check for fifty-five dollars and we'll be even."  
"Just give me your address and I'll bring it to you as soon as it gets here," says she.  "I'll refund you half of what you paid."
"Forget it, keep it.  I don't need it any more anyway."
I left her in her bamboozled state, a blank-eyed and bewildered buffoon.

No, this is not an isolated incident.

I don't need the fifty-five.  It's just another tuition payment to the school of hard knocks.  It's the only school of any kind that is a sure bet to teach you about life in Moreno Valley.  In eight years I have found one good service provider:  my computer guy.  I must confess that I am wondering how long it will take before he implodes.  That's why I have a back-up machine.