Monthly Archives: October 2013

Arrow: I called it

One of the big questions since the beginning of _Arrow_ was whether there would be a “Black Canary,” and who it would be. A lot of people seemed surprised by last night’s reveal, which I took to have been the most obvious scenario.

So far, the show has been very interesting in its use and manipulation of DC “mythology,” though it often feels like an attempt to basically be “Batman” without Batman, to an even greater degree than the Green Arrow has traditionally been. I’ve also contended that it has a feel of _Person of Interest_, with the billionaire vigilante having a list (computer generated numbers in one case; last season’s notebook in the other) and hiring an ex-spy/soldier to work for him. The only difference is that, in practice, Oliver does what Reese does, and Diggs and Felicity play the role of Finch. Of course, John Diggle, a character original to the series, is also Arrow’s equivalent of Alfred. Both shows involve the cops pursuing the vigilante (“the Man in the Suit”; “The man in the hood”), and this season, each show’s signature detective has been demoted to uniform patrol officer. In the case of Det. (now officer) Quentin Lance, he’s taking on a more overt role of a Lt./Commissioner Jim Gordon cognate, complete with a signal.

They chose the Green Arrow for this thus-far “grounded” series (a status that will shift this season with the much-publicized introduction of the Flash for a potential spin-off) because the character has always dealt with more “realistic” enemies and story lines, most of whom have already been used. The remaining cast of villains have mostly been drawn from the Batman or Justice League rogues galleries. Some supporting characters, like Felicity Smoak, are only loosely based upon their comic book counterparts. Then you have characters like Oliver’s sister Thea, who appears to be based upon his current “ward” in the comics, Mia. The introduction of Roy Harper in the latter part of Season 1 has raised the question of which of these two will don the mantle of “Speedy,” or perhaps “the Red Arrow” (Roy is known for wearing a read hoodie).

So that brings us to the Black Canary. As one of the original superheroines, Black Canary has, like many DC characters, a rather convoluted history that has been changed with various individual retcons as well as major “events” like _Crisis on Infinite Earths_, _Infinite Crisis_, _Flashpoint_, etc.

Generally, however, the “original” Black Canary of the Justice Society of America is Dinah Drake, who becomes Dinah Lance after marrying Larry Lance. They have a daughter, “Dinah Laurel Lance,” who becomes the second Black Canary and the love interest of the Green Arrow. With Barbara Gordon, Dinah co-founds the female group “Birds of Prey,” who had their own short-lived TV series on WB (now CW) a year or two before _Smallville_ premiered. For a while, a few years ago, Dinah Lance switched places with a world-class assasssin and longtime Batman foe “Lady Shiva,” who was in “trying to be good” mode so common to Batman villainesses. Somewhere along the line, Shiva picked up a sidekick known as “Sin.” As it happens, Shiva is one of the main villains on Cartoon Network’s new CGI series _Beware the Batman_ which attempts to avoid the obvious complaint that it’s yet another Batman iteration, and even yet another “Batman: Year One” iteration, by focusing on mostly B- and C- list villains, with the exception of Ra’s Al Ghul. I had just read about her in that context a few days before last week’s episode of _Arrow_, so her bio was fresh in my mind as I saw the clues laid out.
In addition to Det. Quentin (as opposed to Larry) Lance, his estranged wife Dinah, and their daughter Laurel Dinah Lance (an attorney formerly of a nonprofit called CNRI), _Arrow_ throws one other character into the mix: Sara Lance, Laurel’s sister.

So, we have, until last night, had several possibilities for who was going to be “the Black Canary.” I thought from the pilot that Laurel was a red herring, that Sara somehow survived and would be the Canary. This season opened with a mysterious blonde woman in black leather and stockings fighting off some thugs with a bo staff and a mysterious sonic weapon. Then we saw her again a few times, briefly, culminating in her rescuing the Arrow from a police sting set up by Laurel (now with the DA’s office), ruling out Laurel as the Black Canary. At the beginning of the episode, I thought it would be Sara, but my view changed with clues laid out during the rest of the episode:
1) regardless of her identity, she hangs out in a clock tower, evoking “Birds of Prey” (even though “the” Clocktower is in Gotham).
2) She has a sidekick named “Cin,” apparently the girl she helped Roy Harper rescue in the season premiere.
3) Most of all, at the ending, a guy comes up to her and says that Ra’s al Ghul is looking for her. I had forgotten that he’d been revealed ahead of time as one of the main villains, with an upcoming episode title being “The Demon’s Head” (meaning of “Ra’s al Ghul” in Arabic).
This had me convinced that the Canary was going to turn out to be “Lady Shiva,” paving the way for Laurel to take over.

Nope, the reveal was, for me, the obvious choice, yet it has apparently surprised other bloggers who’ve commented on last night’s episode, “Crucible”: the mysterious Canary is, after all, Sara Lance, and Oliver knows she survived because she was apparently turned to evil by some mysterious group that held him prisoner during his time “on the island.” So, it’s likely that Sara *is* “Lady Shiva” in this continuity: the writers have already shown a willingness to keep things interesting by mixing and matching different characters.

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Here’s a way to confuse people: Dress as St. Nicholas, St. Patrick or St. Valentine for All Hallows’ Eve

I wish I’d thought of this sooner. Hopefully, I’ll be around for at least another three years to apply it.

A friend suggested confusing people by dressing as “Santa Claus for Halloween.” I said, “How about St. Nicholas for All Saints’ Day.”

We know the arguments that get bandied back and forth this time of year:

“Halloween is pagan, and that’s a bad thing.”
‘Halloween is pagan, and that’s a good thing.”
“Halloween is about enjoying the thrill of being scared.”
“Halloween is Catholic, and it’s about mocking evil.”
“Halloween/Day of the Dead prefaces the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls by remembering the damned.”

Regardless, it has certainly been morphed into a time of great evil, and celebrating evil, and that needs to be reclaimed.
What better way to get that dialogue going than by referencing the three saints whose feasts (sort of, in one case) have come to be widely recognized as “secular” holidays?

Santa Claus is coming to Trick or Treat!


If you *really* want to confuse people, and you have two guys available, have one of them wear red “vestments” and say he’s St. Patrick, and have the other wear green and call him St. Nicholas!


I know God exists because I know that “Ghosts” exist–whatever their explanation may be

A writer at US Catholic attempts to address the question “Do Catholics Believe in Ghosts?” in an article which is circulating my Facebook news feed. provides a lot of quotations from theologians and philosophers (including Peter Kreeft), Church documents, the Bible, etc., which collectively present a superficially contradictory picture.
My initial response was that he seems to skirt the distinction between the various definitions of “belief”: a) acknowledging the existence of; b) relying upon; c) seeking out; or d) being obedient to. The Catholic Church “believes in” all sorts of things under category a), but categories b-d apply only to God, and then to “public revelation” and the Church’s interpretation thereof. We’re still supposed to be cautious about applying b-d to private revelation.
Once, I came across a web article by a priest who had a PhD in physics or something, who argued that many phenomena we attribute to “ghosts” may indeed be unexplained scientific phenomena, such as electromagnetic radiation or even wormholes.
It also makes sense that, sometimes, people get apparitions or locutions from their relatives who are in heaven just as people sometimes get them from Jesus or the Saints.
There is debate over whether “malicious” entities that infest homes or possess individuals are always demons or sometimes damned souls. While, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, I’ve always leaned towards the theory that if souls in Heaven have abilities similar to those of the angels, souls in Hell must have abilities similar to demons.
Back in 1986 or 87, a priest who was a family friend, the late Fr. Gregory Kirsch, whom I’ve blogged about before, came over for a visit, bringing a tape he made of an ordination Mass that had occurred the evening before. He had not watched the tape yet before showing it to my parents and me. He had set his camera up on a tripod angled from the sacristy so you could see the altar and most of the congregation. He began the recording before Mass and turned the camera off about 10 minutes after. After we watched the Mass, when everyone had processed out, we left the tape running and talked. Suddenly, someone, I forget who, said something like “What was that?” We all saw “it” briefly while glancing at the screen. If Father hadn’t left the camera on, if we hadn’t kept the VCR playing, and if at least one of us hadn’t glanced at the screen at just the right instant, we never would have seen it, but we rewound it and watched again:

Three or four white shapes floating up from the ground past €the altar.

I’ve always described them as “wisps.” I’d say now that the shape was similar to that of the more traditional “football”-shaped halo in iconography.

It had been a new tape, so it wasn’t an old recording fading through. It was too low to be coming from the candles. There was nothing that could have produced smoke, and no one was anywhere near the camera. This was before the days of computer editing even coming close to being available to home users, plus there was no reason to fake it. I don’t know what happened to the tape. It just *was*. We watched it over again a few times to make sure. All four of us saw it.

Whatever they were, they were definitely the phenomenon that people describe as “ghosts.” Unless they were, as the aforementioned physicist priest suggested, some kind of unknown electromagnetic phenomenon, they were definitely preternatural. The Occam’s Razor answer would be angels. Whatever they were, the proved to me that some things cannot be easily dismissed.

More on the Hermeneutic of Papal Rupture

Who said the following?

The word ‘Church’ does not sound the way it used to; the good name is gone today. We are in almost the same position as the people in the last century of the Middle Ages, whose impression of the Church was summed up in the call for a reform of the Church in her head and members. Every day we hear about new shortcomings of her officials: one minute we are disturbed by the obstinacy of those who defend tradition, and the next minute we nevertheless have to shake our heads again over the highhandedness of others who on account of their personal problems think the have to raise the alarm in public. . . .
We often get the impression that some demands of the Church that are (or could quite easily become) outmoded are being defended with an undiscerning stubbornness that lays burdens on people instead of helping them to be free; Jesus’ judgments on the scribes and Pharisees then come to mind. . . . “

Sounds like Pope Francis, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s “Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger” (who of course insisted that his personal writings be distinguished from his Papal writings to avoid the very kinds of confusion wrought when the personal and pre-papal writings of Bl. John Paul II were attributed to “the Pope”), in his 2009 book Credo for Today, in the chapter entitled “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
That sounds far more overtly unfriendly to “traditionalists” than anything Francis has said. Francis has, overall, been pretty even handed in condemning the extremism of both the “traditionalists” and the “progressives” in the Church.

Today is St. Crispan’s Day

And so we have Sir Kenneth Branagh’s 1989version of the famous speech from  Henry V Act IV, Scene iii, lines 18-67:

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

“Tomorrow is St. Crispan’s Day!”

And so we have Baron Laurence Olivier (1907-1989)’s 1944 version of _Henry V_, Act IV, Scene iii, lines 18-67:


KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Christianity is not about Morality

Some of my most recent posts have dealt with the reasons for adhering to particular religions, versus the modernist attitude that “all religions are equal.” The latter is derived from the belief, for which Freemasonry was condemned in the 18th Century, that the primary purpose of religion is to “make people good citizens.” Then, of course, there are the controversies about the “papal interviews”,

“Hi, everybody!”

particularly this line from the recent interview for the Jesuit publications:

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.

This weekend, like many, I’ve been reflecting on Nobel Prize Nominee Malala Yousafzai,

She doesn’t merit a Nobel Peace Prize, but Obama does?

and how her teachings, which she claims are authentic Islam contra the “radical” wing of Islam, which Diane Sawyer claims are “only” 1% of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims (equivalent roughly to the populations of New York and London combined).
Malala’s teachings on non-violence would fit more with the New Testament than the Koran, contrary to what modernist revisionism would say. Similarly, as Fr. Barron points out, another popular non-Christian advocate of peace, Mahatma Gandhi

He read Matthew 5 at Oxford and went to the Christians and said, “This is amazing teaching!” The Christians said, “We don’t really follow that; it’s too extreme.”

(whose name, interestingly enough, was recognized by WordPress’s ‘spell check’ even while many common Christian terms are not), got his teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. While some of Jesus’ teachings may be considered original (and obviously, *all* His teachings are original to Him, since He is God), most of them can be found in previous “moral teachers.”

“I say unto you . . . “


While the Church is certainly the Arbiter of Natural Law, there are two sides to Pope Francis’s argument about the Church’s moral teachings “falling like a house of cards”: 1) because they are about Natural Law, they should be argued based upon reason not “The Church says so”; 2) Christianity is not primarily about teaching morality. It’s “about” the Person of Jesus Christ, Who spoke with authority, unlike the Pharisees. The Old Testament Prophets said, “The Lord said to me, . . . ” The Pharisees would say, “Well, Rabbi X says that, but Rabbi Y says that, the Book of Leviticus says this, but the Book of Deuteronomy says that. . . . ”
Jesus sat down and said, “You have heard it said, BUT I SAY TO YOU . . . ” (Matthew 5:22). That is His claim to divinity. He is the first in the history of the Israelite religion to make such a first-person claim to teaching authority. He is not, as C. S. Lewis points out, “just a good moral teacher,” and His “moral teachings” cannot be extracted from the Gospel in an arbitrary “Jesus Seminar” manner, because the moral teachings themselves contain the implication, “I’m God, and here’s what I have to say”. No, Jesus must be either insane, a liar, or God, since He claims to be God in just about every sentence.
The most “controversial” moral teachings of the Catholic Church can be argued based upon reason without necessarily appealing to Revelation (though that certainly makes it easier). The purpose of Revelation is not to teach us what God wants us to do but to teach us Who God *is*, and to show us that He is willing to “forgive us our trespasses.”

[6] For the wisdom of the flesh is death; but the wisdom of the spirit is life and peace. [7] Because the wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be. [8] And they who are in the flesh, cannot please God. [9] But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. [10] And if Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead, because of sin; but the spirit liveth, because of justification.

[11] And if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you. [12] Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. [13] For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live. [14] For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [15] For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father).

[16] For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. [17] And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. [18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. [19] For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope: (Romans 8:6-20, Douay-Rheims)

[11] Strengthened with all might, according to the power of his glory, in all patience and longsuffering with joy, [12] Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: [13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, [14] In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins; [15] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.

[16] For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him. [17] And he is before all, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he may hold the primacy: [19] Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father, that all fullness should dwell; [20] And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven. (Colossions 1:11-19, Douay)

[6] Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. [8] He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. [9] For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: [10] That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth
[11] And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. [12] Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation. [13] For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will. [14] And do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations; [15] That you may be blameless, and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:6-15, Douay)

And, finally, as Jesus Himself says:

[11] Amen, amen I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what we have seen, and you receive not our testimony. [12] If I have spoken to you earthly things, and you believe not; how will you believe, if I shall speak to you heavenly things? [13] And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. [14] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up: [15] That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting.

[16] For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. [17] For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. [18] He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [19] And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. [20] For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. (John 3:11-20, Douay)

That’s what Christianity is all about, Charlie Brown.