New Release “Reflections of the Transforming Power of God” by Stephen B. Lampman

Sounds like a great autobiography of a man’s life of faith.

Book Hub, Inc.

Dear reader: The purpose of this work “Reflections On The Transforming Power of God” is to glorify God the Father, God The Son And God The Holy Spirit, to encourage believers in their walk, and interest others to pursue Him. If you are encouraged by what you read herein or become interested in a deeper understanding of God, please contact us at: stevelampman@comcast.net
Transforming Power; The Work Of God On Behalf Of Man

ReflectionsCover

Author: Stephen B. Lampman

ISBN: 978-0-9799014-5-4

Category: Religious

Price: $2.99

Author Biography:

It was by the grace of God that Steve was brought to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was by God’s longsuffering that he has been sustained in that faith. Steve became a Christian on November 17, 1961 when as a young marine on liberty he came upon a street meeting held by Open Air Campaigners for Christ in the city of…

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Poll – Favorite Male Anime Character of Spring 2014?

Here’s a link to a poll concerning which male hero is the best this season. It’s a very interesting poll. (Vote for Murakami!)

Mahou Tofu

spring2014_guys

It seems with each season, I watch less and less series with good male characters in it. I mean, when there are series like Akuma no Riddle out there that make males completely (well, more or less) unnecessary, it’s no wonder that I can’t seem to find much excitement in this poll. That’s just my stupid opinion though, and we don’t care about that here! I wanna know what you all think about this season’s batch of gentlemen!

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Liebster Award Again!

Medieval Otaku has once again nominated for a Liebster Award, my dear readers!  At first, I thought that I would have to refuse since my site now boasts more than two hundred followers, but the rules have been amended since last I received the award.  This time, I must thank three fellow bloggers for their nominations: Masq of Behind the Masq, Tobby of The Overlord Bear’s Den, and Josh W of Res Studiorum et Ludorum.  (I love that pretentious Latin title.)  Masq nominated me back in February, but I kept putting off this post.  The other two nominated me recently, and so reminded me.  I shall answer all of their questions and hope that this post amuses you for the two hours or so it will take to read.  (Just kidding!)

liebster2

Let me post the most current rules for the Liebster Award, which Wording Well displays on that site:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.

5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)

6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Hajime Saito

To my mind, it seems more orderly to list the random facts about myself first.  Here they are:

1.  I love swords.  I currently own four of them: a Norman sword (a broadsword which favors the cut but has enough of a point to stab with), a viking sword, a Catalonian sword (circa 14th century.  A light sword which cuts as well as it thrusts.), and an O-katana (a katana with a thirty-six inch blade–the kind only carried by the strongest samurai.)

2.  My favorite composer is Antonio Vivaldi, especially for his La Stravaganza.

3.  My favorite work of Tolkien’s is The Hobbit.  I like that book so much that I even bought the Latin translation of it, Hobbitus Ille.

4.  Despite my avatar being Sven Vollfied, I’d have to say that my favorite anime character is Hajime Saito of Rurouni KenshinAku Soku Zan!

5.  My first experience of the Japanese came through watching WWII films, from which I concluded that the Japanese were the most lousy, underhanded, and cruel race upon earth.  If not for my interest in martial arts, I might have retained that unfortunate opinion–only applicable to certain Japanese of the Second World War.

Anti-Japan2

6.  My favorite Japanese actor of all time is Toshiro Mifune, especially for his samurai roles.  He became an actor by his friends applying to a “new faces” contest in Mifune’s name without his knowledge!

7.  I learned Japanese so I would not have to wait for Viz Media to translate Inuyasha.  They’re abominably slow, I tell you!

8.  One work in my possession, The U.S.S. Seawolf: Submarine Raider of the Pacific, was a Christmas gift to me from my grammar school library, because no other student wanted to take it out.

9.  Arizona is my favorite state.  I hope to be able to retire there if I cannot find a way to become a permanent resident sooner.  My brother’s beating me to it by going to law school there.

10.  I am part of a very small minority who not only likes Lost Universe, but considers it one of their top twenty anime.  As a matter of fact, the existence of another such person is highly improbable.

11.  When I was young, I used to be part of the Sea Cadets.  At the time, I hated the experience, but it gave me many fine stories to tell and made me a little less shy.

sunset-in-oak-creek-canyon-in-sedona-arizona-USA-1600x1066

Now, onto the bloggers’ questions!  Here Masq’s list with my answers:

1. Why did you start blogging?

My dream has always been to write fiction, particularly fantasy fiction a la Tolkien.  But, the desire to write fell dormant after I won placed third in Athanatos Christian Ministries’ Short Story Contest for The Death of St. Magnus of Orkney until the writing bug hit me again two years ago.  This blog covered all my hobbies with the hope that my writing muscle would become stronger by doing so.  Now, my writing serves an aspiring cartoonist, and I hope to have a couple of novels out before the end of the year–sans blague!  (That’s French for “no kidding!”)

2. What is your favorite anime to date and why?

Rurouni Kenshin.  The characters have great personalities and compelling back stories, the animation is beautiful, the fights are awesome, the story arcs mesmerize the viewer, the characters defend interesting philosophies with both their blades and their words, and it gives surprisingly accurate historical information on Meiji Japan.  I doubt a better anime will ever come out of Japan!

3. What is your favorite video game and why?

Crusaders of Might and Magic.  Ask my brother and he’ll tell you that the frequency with which I replayed this game drove him nuts.  I loved Drake, the noble mercenary who defies a powerful necromancer as he foils all the necromancer’s plots.  It’s an old game and somewhat simple, but I loved the story and the combat.

4. You discover a Pokemon egg in your room.  It will hatch into whatever Pokemon you wish.  What do you choose and why?

An Arcanine.  I never got into Pokemon, but that one looks cool.

Arcanine

5. If you were to give advice for someone trying to start a blog, what would be the one tip you’d give them?

Be sure to read and comment on other blogs.  That’s the most important thing.  It’s better to write once a fortnight as long as one is active in the blogging community than to write frequently in obscurity.

6. Apples or Oranges?

Oranges.  They taste better and are used for more cocktails–especially the Old Fashioned!

7. What is your favorite non-anime TV show?

Magnum P.I.  Tom Selleck plays a great Hawaiian P.I. with a very complex history and persona.

8. Name one old TV series that should not be rebooted.

The Brady Bunch.

9. What board game should Michael Bay turn into a movie next?

Shadows over Camelot.  It would be fun to see how he weaves the game’s features into Arthurian legend–especially whether he shall include a traitor among the Knights of the Round Table.

10. What is your favorite Animal?

Wolves.  I have always been fascinated by how wolves run a kind of society and they are beautiful creatures.

Two Wolves

Now for Tobby’s questions:

1. What sort of music do you like?

J-pop, Classical, and 80’s music.

2. Is there a foreigner-made artwork that you really like?

I have a print of Jesus during the agony in the garden signed by Vicente Roso.  I believe this is the same Roso who’s famous for the comic Florita, but I might be wrong.  I love how the picture displays the world lying in darkness while Jesus is the light which will scatter this darkness.  In addition, Christ appears alone against all this darkness–even the three apostles lie in a deep sleep, but He is looking up to show that He has confidence in His Father’s plans for Him.

image

3. Is there a fictional story that you would like to recommend?

Having read the comment that no one reads Sir Walter Scott anymore and determined that experience shows this to be true, I want to recommend Quentin Durward to my readers.  It focuses on a young Scot who travels to France to join King Louis XI’s Scottish bodyguards.  It also features the character Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy and stands as the most fun and easy to read of Sir Walter Scott’s works–at least, to my knowledge.

4. What do you usually do when you’re in the Internet?

I suppose blogging or playing on chess.com occupy most of my web browsing.

5. Have you ever had to deal with a really short-tempered child?

No, thankfully.

6. Do you think that you are an optimist?

Yes, sometimes I think that I’m crazy for being one, but I still am.

7. What is your preferred way of dealing with people who hate you?

I pray for them and stay out of their hair.  If I were a better Christian, I would greet them with smiles, but I confess to being rather lousy!

padrepio-lamb

Padre Pio, one of my favorite models for leading a Christian life.

8. Do you think that the death penalty is a good way to curb crime?

Yes, it prevents repeat offenses.  At any rate, there seem to be a certain set of people who are either impenitent or will repent at nothing less than the threat of their own demise.

9. Who is the family member that inspired you most?

I believe that my mother, father, grandfather, and grandmother have all inspired me greatly.  Of all of them, I feel most inspired by my grandfather, who had several languages under his command, was a great student of European history, and led a very interesting life in Croatia during the Second World War, under the Communists afterwards, and when he emigrated for America in 1967.

10. In three to five words, what are your values?

Wisdom, Knowledge, Compassion, Patience, Loyalty.

11. What is your favorite food?

A stew based on a family recipe known as gumbo, though the concoction of pasta sauce, barbeque sauce, Tabasco, peppers, garlic, onion, chicken, and hot Italian sausage does not count as a traditional gumbo.  Over spaghetti with the right amount of heat, nothing else is so good!

Inuyasha and Ramen

Now for Josh W’s questions:

1. Prog rock or punk?

Definitely progressive rock!

2. What book(s) are you reading right now?

I have the horrendous practice of perusing many works until a particular work absorbs my interest and I read through it.  At the moment, I’m reading the following: Virgil’s Aeneid (in Latin, of course.  Translations of this work are lame.), The Lord of the Rings, St. Thomas Aquinas’ On Prayer and Contemplation, Aquinas’ Catena Aurea: Gospel of Matthew, Michael Dirda’s On Conan Doyle, Kipling’s The Light That Failed, volume one of Churchill’s history of WWII, Vikings: A History of the Norse Peoples by Martin J. Doughty, and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova.  I might also add that I listen to Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities or Stevenson’s Treasure Island while driving or occupied such that I cannot focus on a printed book.  I could also add various manga, but that list is already long enough.

3. If you could instantaneously become fluent in one language which you are not already, which would it be?

Might as well pick a language I feel is beyond my capabilities: Classical Chinese.  Then, I would read the Four Great Classical Novels in the original form: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Outlaws of the Marsh, Journey to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber.

4. Name one piece of media, literary, musical, visual etc. which you believe has had a significant effect on your life.

Spiritual Secrets of a Trappist Monk by Fr. M. Raymond.  This is the most profound work I’ve ever read.  It teaches about the importance of each individual person in the history of salvation, and I would highly recommend my fellow Catholics to read it.

SSOTM

5. Has your worldview ever undergone dramatic changes? How many times?

I suppose that reading Spiritual Secrets of a Trappist Monk counts as the first.  Oblomov convincing me of the importance of friends stands as the second.  I can think of other changes, but they do not seem as dramatic to me.

6. Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest?

Never played Dragon Quest, and so I must go with Final Fantasy–especially Final Fantasy VIII.  I remember the days when the graphics of that game held me spellbound!

7. Favourite kind of verse?

Classical love poetry.  Ovid is my favorite poet, and I would heartily recommend his Heroides and Erotic Poems.  Concerning the latter, the seventh poem in book three has to be the funniest poem I’ve ever read–and not rated X, I assure you!

8. Are you a bot pretending to be a human? Please type: rI45yeARal3

Aquinas Bot

9. Favourite short story collection?

Of anything which I have read, nothing beats Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes.  I’ll just put The Complete Sherlock Holmes here.

10. Is it obvious that I am straining to come up with questions at this point?

It was obvious at #8.  I’ll be in the same boat shortly.

11. Would you rather be in Agamemnon’s army, or Odysseus’ crew?

Agamemnon’s army.  The chance for glory on the battlefield seems greater than finding it by risking death from cyclopes, oblivion by way of opium, or walking off a roof with a hangover.

Diomedes

My nominees:

Gaikokumaniakku

A Journey Through Life

Croatia by Us

Fox Diary

GAR GAR Stegosaurus

Gentlemanotoku’s Anime Circle

Yaranakya

Viking History with C. J. Adrian

The Null Set

Pretense w/Glasses

Head Noises

I hope that you enjoyed reading my answers in this oppressively long article!  Now, I shall wrap up with the questions I have for my nominees, which may not significantly differ from the questions I answered above.

  1. Do you watch the Olympics?
  2. Who is your favorite historical figure?
  3. Vikings vs. Samurai.  Who wins on a level playing ground?
  4. Do you like Jane Austen’s books?
  5. If your were marooned on a desert island with little possibility of rescue, which five books would you want to have with you?
  6. Also, a lifetime supply of what drink would you want to have with you on that island?
  7. Have you ever thought about joining the military or joined it?  Which branch?
  8. If for one night you could dine with anyone–living or dead, who would it be?
  9. If for a fortnight you could be transported into a fantasy world before returning to the real world, which one would it be?
  10. (For men) If you could grow a beard like JEB Stuart’s, would you?  (For women) If you could be any height you wished, what would it be?
  11. What’s your favorite sea creature?

And here’s a picture of Jeb Stuart if you are unfamiliar with his glorious beard:

jeb_stuart1

 

 

Rejoicing in Being Defective

For a while now, the old anime Saber Marionette J has excited my curiosity.  On the one hand, the show exudes mediocrity; on the other hand, I’m an avid enough fan of 90’s anime to pass over many flaws in anime from this era.  The basic premise for this show lies in a space ship crash landing upon a deserted planet, killing all the female crew members.  This necessitates the population of this world to come about through cloning (somehow, their best efforts to clone women from male genes failed); yet, the memory of the fair sex is kept alive through creating androids or marionettes in the form of women.  These androids are inferior to real women in many ways, especially because they lack volition and emotion.  (You can tell this anime is a commentary on the state of women in Japan, and you might expect an article from me in this regard by a certain point.)

SaberMarionetteJ6

However, our hero, Otaru, discovers a marionette named Lime who has both will and emotions.  His neighbors initially deem Lime a defective product and attempt to destroy this rambunctious robot.  (She does kind of rob all of them of their breakfasts.)  However Otaru saves her by begging for her life.  Afterwards, the neighbors come to a good opinion of Lime, claiming that sometimes the most defective products are also the most lovable.  At which point, Lime knuckles her forehead and says: “Ha, ha!  Yeah!  I’m defective.”

SMJ

In a similar way, we ought to consider our own defects with good cheer.  Rather than letting these bring us down, we ought to laugh with Lime at our own defectiveness.  St. Francis de Sales does aver that we should “rejoice in our abjection,” but few find their own weaknesses as something to rejoice in–especially if these happen to be sinful proclivities.  Yet, even more than Otaru’s neighbors finding Lime lovable in her crazy antics, Our Lord loves especially those who are weakest and most in need of His mercy.

Jesus - Lost Sheep

We seem to have more cause to weep over our defects than to rejoice over them; but, our very mourning becomes beatitude when seen in the light of Our Lord’s Passion: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:8).  Sorrow over sin inevitably raises the mind to the Passion of Christ, of Our Lord who suffered for the forgiveness of our sins.  When we look at God, God looks at us.  In seeing our confusion and sorrow over the wounds our sins inflicted upon Himself, Our Lord presents His wounds for the healing of our souls to God the Father.  The greater our sorrow and focus upon God, the purer our heart becomes and the greater God refines our souls from the dross of sin.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque receives the vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque receives the vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

As such, we ought to view our sense of abjection as a gift from God.  If we felt that we were alright, we would not seek God.  Because we know that we are broken and defective, we focus more on the Great Physician, who heals us the more as we bind ourselves to Him by remembering Him always.  Even though conscious that the wounds we see upon Christ Crucified represent our offenses and sins, we become yet more conscious that God took these wounds upon Himself of His own free will out of love for us.  And so, the more we focus upon Christ’s wounds and sufferings, the more apparent God’s infinite Love becomes to us.  Indeed, the most sinful, weak, and defective become the most beloved of God.  As Jesus told the Pharisees: “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you” (Matt. 21:31). 

St. Matthew, one of the tax collectors whom Jesus saved.

St. Matthew, one of the tax collectors whom Jesus saved.

But, I suppose that the knowledge that God appears to love those who caused Him the most suffering more than those who live decent lives is not enough for us.  We want to be just!  We want to cease being the thorn in Our Lord’s Sacred Heart!  But, have we not fulfilled the fourth beatitude in our desire for justice even if we see ourselves falling often every day?  Our very abjection fulfills the first beatitude.  Our knowledge of human weakness and our own poverty lead us to be gentle towards our brothers and sisters, fulfilling the second beatitude.  Our sorrow for sins and seeking righteousness increase our purity of heart or single-mindedness on God.  Our focus on God reminds us of the constant need we have for mercy, and so we become merciful to our brothers and sisters–desiring them to be happy even if we suffer temporal losses.  Our focus on justice, mercy, and purity make us excellent peacemakers, by which virtue the children of God are known.

St. Longinus at the Crucifixion

Then, once we have been filled with such blessedness, we shall be worthy to be persecuted along with our Lord and thus fulfill the highest and eighth beatitude.  Such a soul is so conformed to its Lord and filled with God’s Spirit that, as in the case of St. John Vianney, someone might exclaim “I have seen God in a man.”  All the saints have meditated often on Our Lord’s Passion and drawn strength from it as well as from the sacraments.  Though grace so wonderfully perfected the nature of these saints according to the image and likeness with which all human beings are created, they never forgot their utter need of God, their sinfulness, and how reliant they were upon His sufferings.

All this from knowing our utter misery, wickedness, and need of God!

Masks

A meditative post about not wearing a mask in order to be approved of by others from a great young novelist.

Cristian Mihai

masks

Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

We all act differently around certain people, because we want to impress them, or maybe because we simply don’t want to dissapoint them. And sometimes, indeed, we can’t figure out who we really are.

I once wrote that our freedom is limited only by what we believe to be the perception others have about us. If we’re afraid the world won’t like us for who we really are, then we try our best to “behave.”

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Scrambling for Freedom: How Mardock Scramble Points to Freedom as the Goal of Christian Life

Several of my readers may have come across Mardock Scramble and been dissuaded from watching it by reading descriptions of this show.  In that case, retain your original resolution not to watch it, because it does contain scenes which are downright gruesome and characters representing the worst levels to which a human being can fall.  At the same time, the evolution of Rune Balot from a prostitute leading a miserable existence to a woman capable of great compassion and virtue stands among the most beautiful anime has to offer.

mardock-scramble-Rune-Balot

The anime describes this transition from prostitute to heroine as the same as from slave to free.  That these three OVAs focus on freedom as their main topic makes itself apparent in the three ending songs.  (Yes, I loved this anime so much that I listened to the ending songs so that I might get every drop of it out.)  The first OVA plays “Amazing Grace,” the second “Ave Maria for Balot,” and the third Megumi Hayashibara’s (Rune Balot’s voice actress, by the way) “Tsubasa,” which means “Wings” in English.  These songs point to the three steps of salvation: 1) Christ finds us and saves us from hell; 2) we struggle for righteousness through the grace of God–especially sought through prayer; and 3) we fully realize the freedom found in abiding in God’s will.  The very highest freedom exists in heaven, where we shall no longer be tempted by evil choices and only chose from several goods.

Yet, people often look at things like the commandments and religious obligations, which lead them to come to the opinion that religion represses freedom.  But, let us examine these “strictures.”  The commandments order us not to do evil.  Constantly doing evil leads to vices forming on the soul.  What is a vice except a form of slavery on the soul?  Whether one looks at pride, envy, anger, greed, lust, gluttony, or sloth, it will become evident that these things limit a person.  Pride blinds us to truth, envy prevents us from loving others, anger prevents rational thought and action,  greed blinds us to what we really need, lust prevents us from seeing persons as persons, gluttony produces a body unfit for strenuous activity, and sloth prevents us from developing our talents.  In essence, by God telling us to be good, He tells us to be free.

Our Lord delivered St. Mary Magdalene from seven demons.  In the same way, He delivers all souls from the seven deadly sins.

Our Lord delivered St. Mary Magdalene from seven demons. In the same way, He delivers all souls from the seven deadly sins.

In the case of religious obligations like attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation, receiving the Eucharist at least once a year, or going to confession at least once a year during Easter if we have committed a mortal sin, these merely oblige us to do what we should decide to do on our own initiative if we were not so ignorant.  Eating the Body of Christ and drinking the Blood of Christ is our very salvation.  And can one complain about having to go to confession if one is in a state of mortal sin–a condition where a sudden death might deprive them of eternal life?  Do not people who decline to go to confession out of fear or laziness rather than run into the arms of their merciful Father and steadfast Brother strike one as foolish?  Certain people have enough leisure that they receive the Eucharist daily or the Sacrament of Reconciliation weekly or even daily–ever dwelling in the Mercy of God imparted in the sacraments.  To wisely fulfill one’s obligations is not slavish but free.

Oeufcoque

To take the case of Rune Balot, she has obligations to Dr. Easter, who saves her from certain death through his medical technology, to help him testify against the man who used her as a concubine before attempting to burn her alive.  She is given Oeufcoque, a golden, talking mouse who can change into practically any tool–from computerized gloves to a hand cannon, as a partner.  Her acceptance of this duty leads to many violent confrontations, and she does have one major fall from grace.  When she realizes the extent of her fault due to Oeufcoque suffering from his aversion to her evil deeds, she comes to herself and repents straightway.  She had determined to love Oeufcoque earlier, but she had not taken into account her obligations to her new partner.  Without meeting these obligations, she cannot be free.

Rune Balot

Freedom is not without structure.  The order to which freedom adheres derives from moral law.  When we fit into this order, we bring our freedom to perfection.  The struggle of overcoming ourselves and conforming to virtue leads to us gaining true freedom.  And to what end ought we put our freedom?  Love.  Toward the end of the series, Balot tells Oeufcoque that she has known many men whom she wished would love her, but he is the first being she wished to love of her own initiative.  As conformity to the moral law leads to us becoming more at home in the universe, we become the persons we were meant to be and our desires are met in ways we never dreamed possible.  The ending of Mardock Scramble indicates that Balot, despite the pain of her recent experiences, has found happiness and rejoices in living–something which would never have happened had she not been providentially rescued from her wayward lifestyle.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Thales of Miletus Fall Into a Well

Michelle points out the importance of studying philosphy with great cogency in this article. It is particularly shocking to read about any educated individual, in this case Neil DeGrasse Tyson, claim that philosophy is unnecessary.

Stories & Soliloquies

A few days back Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the most beloved science educator of our time, said some unfortunate things about philosophy. My first inclination was to try to see his point, since I’m a big fan, and also I’m not at all opposed to critiquing philosophy – especially academic philosophy. But, he wasn’t just critiquing the discipline as an institution, he was actively discouraging people doing philosophical activity. He’s not the first thinker to do this, but let’s be honest – Wittgenstein did it better.

Here’s what Tyson has to say on the matter, as analyzed by Damon Linker at The Week:

But now it’s been definitively demonstrated by a recent interview in which Tyson sweepingly dismisses the entire history of philosophy. Actually, he doesn’t just dismiss it. He goes much further — to argue that undergraduates should actively avoid studying philosophy at all. Because, apparently, asking too many…

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The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales

I just had the pleasure of reading The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales by Jean-Pierre Camus.  Whether this Camus is a distant relation of the more famous Albert Camus, I know not.  His style of biography is reminiscent of Boswell’s Life of Johnson.  Like Boswell, Camus was a constant companion of St. Francis and recorded his habits with great exactitude.  Their friendship began around the time St. Francis, as Bishop of Geneva, consecrated him Bishop of Belley.  Camus’ remarkable frankness and memory make this a particularly interesting character sketch of the saint.

St. Francis de Sales

For those unfamiliar with the history of St. Francis de Sales, he served in the diocese of Geneva at the beginning of the Counter-Reformation.  In particular, he was a missionary to Chablis and had to deal with the Calvinist heresy there.  Calvinists held the majority in the place, and proprietors would often refuse even to give St. Francis a place to sleep.  With the incredible patience which was his chief virtue, he preached the Faith through public speaking and spreading pamphlets–many of which we have to this day.  Occasionally, while he said Mass, the attendants would get up and leave during the middle of it, and St. Francis would continue the Mass in an empty Church.  His patience and perseverance made him eventually beloved of the people, and Chablis became a mostly Catholic area by the end of his life.

St. Francis describes his method of religious debate as patiently listening to his religious opponents without either showing contempt or superiority and then relating the truth of the Catholic faith without contentiousness.  Here are his own words on the subject, which is one of my favorite passages in the work:

“All the external proofs which can be brought to bear upon our opponents are weak, unless the Holy Spirit is at work in their souls, teaching them to recognize the ways of God. All that has to be done is to propose to them simply the truths of our Faith. To propose these truths is to compel men to accept them, unless, indeed, they resist the Holy Spirit, either through dullness of understanding, or through uncircumcision of the heart. The attaching over much importance to the light of natural reason is a quenching of the Spirit of God. Faith is not an acquired, but an infused virtue; it must be treated with accordingly, and in instructing heretics we must beware of taking to ourselves any part of the glory which belongs to God alone.

 “One of the greatest misfortunes of heretics is that their ministers in their discourses travesty our Faith, representing it as something quite different from what it really is. For example, they pretend that we have no regard for Holy Scripture; that we worship the Pope as God; that we regard the Saints as divinities; that we hold the Blessed Virgin as being more than Jesus Christ; that we pay divine worship to images and pictures; that we believe souls in Purgatory to be suffering the selfsame agony and despair as those in Hell; that we deprive the laity of participation in the Blood of Jesus Christ; that we adore bread in the Eucharist; that we despise the merits of Jesus Christ, attributing our salvation solely to the merit of our good works; that auricular confession is mental torture; and so on, endeavoring by calumnies of this sort to discredit our religion and to render the very thought of it odious to those who are so thoroughly misinformed as to its nature. When, on the contrary, they are made acquainted with our real belief on any of these points, the scales fall from their eyes, and they see that the fascination and cajolery of their preachers has hidden from them the truth as to God’s goodness and the beauty of God’s truth, and has put darkness before them in the place of light.

 “It is true that at first they may shrug their shoulders, and laugh us to scorn; but when they have left us, and, being alone, reflect a little on what we have told them, you will see them flutter back like decoyed birds, saying to us, ‘We should like to hear you speak again about those things which you brought before us the other day.’ Then they fall, some on the right hand, others on the left, and Truth, victorious on all sides, brings them by different paths to know it as it really is.”

Daughters of the Visitation

I don’t know of a more perfect method of preaching the truths of the faith than this, and so I felt compelled to quote it in full.  At any rate, I encourage my dear readers to pick up this work.  St. Francis de Sales is a great personality among the saints and this work does a marvelous job of sketching his personality–and it’s available for free!  Some passages are edifying, some dry, some humorous (like when Camus drilled holes in the walls of St. Francis’ room so that he could observe him therein), but all are brimming with the Spirit of Christ.  I hope that many modern pastors have been influenced by the model offered by St. Francis de Sales.

Unlikely Animal Lovers

While watching Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water, I came across a curious scene.  Samson (Obviously what the Japanese intended despite the sub’s transliteration of Sanson)  grows irritated with the three square meals of fish offered by the Nautilus every single day.  His complaints influence Captain Nemo to put in for an island so that the crew can have some R&R.  Samson, exuberant for the chance to obtain fresh meat, shoots a fawn.  For which feat, he is applauded by the boat’s crew.

Samson on left.

Samson on left.

I had quite the opposite reaction to this: “Man, you shot a fawn?  Couldn’t you have checked your impatience for meat long enough to have found an adult deer?  How unsportsmanlike!  Quam crudelis!  How many people is that even going to feed?”  The character which shared my distaste for the killing was none other than Nadia, a thoroughgoing vegetarian and against harming any form of life higher than a plant.  She becomes so enraged that she leaves the camp for the whole evening.

When Nadia's angry, no one is safe.

When Nadia’s angry, no one is safe.

This shared opinion reminds me of the curious fact that the people who love animals the most fall under two extremes: 1) the kind who would never harm one and 2) those who love hunting them.  The notion of hunters as animal lovers might appear strange to some, but consider that their love for hunting and the outdoors places them in closer contact with a greater variety of animals than the average man experiences.  Take the case of Theodore Roosevelt, probably America’s most famous hunter after Davy Crockett.  Many of the hundreds of animals he brought down during his lifetime may be seen in the Smithsonian Museum; yet, his great fondness for animals of all sorts is testified to in both the myriads of hunting sketches he wrote and all his biographical writings.

TR in Yellowstone

American hunters have been painted in dark colors in many films.  Yet, another kind of hunter, a person belonging to a tribal group, is shown as having a particular reverence for the animals they dispatch.  (Who can forget the hero of The Gods Must be Crazy giving a lengthy apology to an animal he kills for the sake of his family?)  Your typical American hunter is no different.  Few will kill a very young animal, and many adhere to the idea that one should only kill an animal one intends to eat.  (I even remember the story of one child who, having downed a crow with an air rifle, was then given the distasteful task of eating it by his father!  A real case of eating crow!)  Perhaps the most famous story about a hunter refusing to kill a young animal comes from Theodore Roosevelt himself, who was told by a hunting companion to kill a bear cub.  Roosevelt found the idea unsportsmanlike and refused.  A toymaker catching wind of this story is why Teddy bears now exist.

 

 

Catholicism in Anime: The Consequence of Sin in Noragami

I’m not the only one who noticed the parallels to Catholic Teaching in Noragami. Here’s an excellent article on the subject.

Mage in a Barrel

In lieu of a traditional review, I have opted to take a different approach for Noragami. It really is fascinating to see the overlap between different religious traditions. Noragami, with its (mostly) Shinto-based characters, displays a wide overlap with Catholic teaching on the nature of sin. It is a fascinating and hopeful experience to be able to bring two different traditions together and find, for once, the similarities, rather than the differences.

Disclaimer: Before I begin this discussion, I want to first guard against the criticisms that may come from undertaking an interdisciplinary approach to this topic. Any analogies that are made within this article are first and foremost that: analogies. When I discuss Yato as a Christological figure, I am not forgetting that he is a Shinto god of calamity, whose existence is directly resultant from the evil wishes of humans. The analogy is not perfect. I…

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How I’m Enjoying the Season Thus Far

You’re probably wondering how I’m getting along this season.  My list of shows is still at nine, but that comes from me dropping two and adding two more.  Ranking them from favorite to least favorite, the order of shows would look like this:

  1. Hitsugi no Chaika
  2. Gokukoku no Brynhildr
  3. Black Bullet
  4. Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii
  5. Nanana’s Buried Treasure
  6. Mekakucity Actors
  7. Knights of Sidonia
  8. Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to
  9. Captain Earth

SDSU

Compared to my old list, this one has lost the sumo wrestling anime and Fuun Ishin Dai-Shogun.  The latter was particularly bad, and reading about the former deflated any desire I had to watch it.  What’s new to this list are Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii and Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to.  I am greatful to Lee Relph of MIB’s Instant Headache for recommending the former.  This comedic fantasy boasts some of the most likable characters this season.  The ups and downs of Nike and Livius’s romance, Nike’s exuberant behavior, and the intrigue surrounding Livius’ court make for a fun show.  Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to is hilarious, though I can see some people turning it down for the outlandish themes in its comedy.  If it were not so funny, I doubt that I could have made it through the panty episode, i.e. the very first episode.

Aito-san exclaims "Light!" in Japanese as he makes light of the master manga assistant, Sena Kuroi.

Aito-san exclaims “Light!” in Japanese as he makes light of the master manga assistant, Sena Kuroi.

There are two reasons Hitsugi no Chaika tops the list: 1) it’s based in the world of Scrapped Princess, one of my favorite shows and earliest anime in my career as an otaku; and 2) my ignorance of its story.  Otherwise, Gokukoku no Brynhildr is about as strong a show, but I’m familiar with the manga.  The anime sticks like glue to the manga’s story line, though it is fun to see it animated.  My last anime post pointed out a flaw in the action of Black Bullet, but for all that it well deserves the number three spot.

Akari Acura

Another blogger whom I need to thank for a recommendation is Overlord Bear for suggesting Mekakucity Actors to me.  It’s a very interesting show, animated in the vein of Bakemonogatari.  (Watching this is making me consider trying to watch Nisemonogatari again.)  Overall, the characters and action are only a little less enjoyable than those of Nanana’s Buried Treasure.  But, I’m greatly looking forward to the direction the plot takes us.

Momo of Mekaku City Actors

Along with Gokukoku no Brynhildr, I also decided to start reading the manga for Knights of Sidonia.  After ten chapters or so, I dropped the manga Knights of Sidonia, and found my enthusiasm rather killed for the show.  Basically, I came to dislike both the characters and the world in which Knights of Sidonia was set.  Why is it still on my list then?  I felt that it would be unjust to drop the anime because I didn’t like the manga.  After all, it is possible that the anime studio outdid the mangaka.  In this case, they certainly did: the characters feel more lifelike and the situation less grim.  (Not much less grim, but sufficiently so.)  The show could easily vault higher into the rankings.

If not for the threat of giant monsters, the future presented by Knights of Sidonia would consist of varying degrees of monotony.

If not for the threat of giant monsters, the future presented by Knights of Sidonia would consist of varying degrees of monotony.

Captain Earth owes its low position merely to the fact that I have not made time to watch it beyond episode two.  I was very excited for this show in the beginning and enjoyed the first couple of episodes before becoming distracted by other shows which seemed more interesting.  After all, mecha is not my favorite genre and we’ve seen the plot where a teenage boy suddenly becomes a giant robot pilot before.  But, the hero has guts and doesn’t appear two dimensional, so I’m going to start watching it again.

Well, that’s my situation this season.  I’m not sure whether any series will equal the classics of anime, but I hope that they will offer as much food for thought as they already have fun.

Review of Latro in the Mist

Here’s a little review of Latro in the Mist. I know that there are some fantasy fiction fans among my readers here, and I thought that you might like to be introduced to a new author. Gene Wolfe’s understanding of the Ancient world and his ability to give it a fantasy spin are brilliant.

Aquila et Infans

I have just finished a famous two volume compilation, Latro in the Mist, which combines Gene Wolfe’s Soldier in the Mist and Soldier of Arete.  Gene Wolfe achieves something beautiful in these two volumes.  They stand right next to Lord of the Rings in creativity.  The comparison is an apt one: where Tolkien relies upon archaic European languages and motifs drawn from medieval history and culture, Wolfe–also a Catholic–uses ancient Greek history, language, and mythology to immerse us into the world.  The immersion in the ancient world is so perfect that Wolfe makes us see it through new eyes.

Gene Wolfe has a great mustache, right? Gene Wolfe has a great mustache, right?

The primary way in which he forces the reader to look at the ancient world with a new perspective is by translating the Greek place names to which we are accustomed.  This separates us from the notions we have of these places…

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On Joy and Suffering in This Life

The thought came to my mind that people use times of joy and suffering in the opposite way from which they were intended.  During good times, we think that God loves us very much (as He does regardless of circumstances) and we grow more attached to this life.  During the latter times, we become vexed with God and groan and complain for Him to improve our lot.  Perhaps the thought crosses our mind that God hates us–an impossibility.  Rather, prosperity is not a sure sign that we are pleasing to God.  It might even be a sign that our lot is not with God but in this life.  On the other hand, St. Pio avers: “Suffering is the sure sign that God is loving us.”

St. Pio carrying Christ's cross

I mentioned in my article on Arpeggio of Blue Steel that God wishes us to be His friends.  If we look at human friendships, we might rate them as follows from least to greatest: 1) friendships of utility, 2) fair weather friends, 3) friends of long duration, 4) friends who remain friends in difficult times, and 5) friends who suffer with us.  Though God loves all of us infinitely–even those who actively hate Him, who can doubt that those who most perfectly share the cross of Christ must be considered best friends?  He wishes to transform those of mercenary temperament to serve him out of love, is pained by seeing the unwillingness of second group to stay with Him in suffering, looks with great fondness on those who stay by His side though weakly, is consoled by those who remember His Passion often, and who can describe the joy and pleasure He takes in souls that share in His Passion through suffering?  And so, when we suffer, we ought to be more inclined to thank God for these very sufferings than complain of them.  As St. Peter writes: “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).

Leonardo da Vinci's crucifixion of St. Peter

The whole purpose of prosperity is to prepare us to suffer.  We thank God for good things so that we might later be able to say with Job: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).  This time on earth is the most important time in our lives, but it pales in comparison to the eons we shall enjoy in the presence of God.  Such a long time is incomprehensible to us!  Everything good and beautiful here should lift our minds to the splendor and joys of paradise.  If the flowers and verdure of spring can give us such pleasure, how much more will paradise delight us with its beauties?

beautiful garden

Lest the thorny and rocky path to this delightful paradise disquiet us, let us remember that path smooth and strewn with flowers but leads to the gaping maw of hell.  Even if we allow the storms of life to choke our faith, God will never forget the least moment we shared His sufferings.  Who can doubt that He shall shine the warmest rays of His Mercy on such a soul even to the last moment of life so that it might still attain eternal life in heaven?