Dracula is the Antichrist!

Happy October. Yes you read the title correctly. I am of the opinion that Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ is a fantastic work of literature. I believe it resonates deeply with the culture of western civilization. It touches on things deep in the murky cultural sub-conscience. If you haven’t read it you should.

Drac

It is also a profoundly Christian story. You may be saying- “Wait! Isn’t the whole vampire thing a residual pagan belief, unchristian superstition?” No, The folkloric origins are pre-Christian, but these sort of stories are ancient and universal to humanity. Some version of the vampire exists in most cultures around the globe. Just because something predates Christianity doesn’t mean it doesn’t convey truths. The western understanding of the vampire legend at this point is thoroughly Christian. Stoker’s Dracula is very much a conflict between light and darkness, completely shot through with a Christian worldview.

The mythic character personalized and solidified by Bram Stoker as Count Dracula is an excellent archetype of the Anti-Christ. Allow me to explain.

Christ is nobility, a King, the prince of peace. Dracula is nobility a count, prince of darkness.

Christ rose from the dead at dawn as the true light. Dracula rises at the setting of the sun, in darkness.

Christ gives his blood, in love, for the eternal life of others. Dracula takes the blood of others for selfish everlasting living death.

Christ is alluded to as the lamb. Dracula is alluded to as a wolf.

Christ is the son of God. “Dracula” means “son of the devil (or dragon)”.

Dracula is an inversion of Christ. He is Anti-Christ. This is also why the 1931 film ‘Dracula’, which contains no religious imagery, is the worst adaptation IMO.

If you haven’t read the book I recommend it.

 

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Why I’m sticking with Rome: Part 2

Part 2- I have struggled to complete this it has been difficult to organize the various factors in a coherent manner. The Second sex abuse scandal has broken in the time since then, as well as Pope Francis changing the Catechism. In spite of these things my resolve and conviction to remain Catholic has persisted and in fact grown stronger. For both parts I have let go my perfectionistic tendency’s, in the interest of just getting them out (I expect I will be editing extensively at some point). A lot of this is quite personal.

As I said previously, my awareness of the Christian East and first millennium increased. I found that the Byzantine theological perspective and much of the spirituality resonated very deeply with me. There are 4 eastern Christian churches within 25 minutes of my home. Three of them are Orthodox of differing jurisdictions and one of them is Ukrainian Catholic. I began attending Divine Liturgy semi regularly at the Ukrainian church, largely to escape the inner conflict I experienced at the Novus Ordo Mass. I know too much about the formation of the Novus Ordo and its rubrics, my inner awareness of these things would cause unspoken disturbance. What I experienced at the Ukrainian church was a received liturgy, I resolved to learn as little as possible about the Divine Liturgy so that nothing improper would disturb me. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. It is an aging and slowly dying, very ethnic, and very Latinized parish. When they received a new priest things began to get problematic, what I call “Irish Low Mass Syndrome”. The Saturday liturgy which was in English began to be more, and more then entirely spoken and rapidly. Parts were left out and things got sloppy. I eventually stopped attending because I felt not enough care was taken with the communion spoon. The last time I attended Divine Liturgy was 45 minutes long (75-90 is the typical length of a DL) One block away from the Ukrainian Church was an Orthodox Church in America parish, I knew they had Matins at 8:30 on Sunday followed by Divine Liturgy. I was curious but resisted.

One weekend when my wife was out of town with the children for some reason I don’t now remember. I went to the early 7:30 AM Mass. It was horrendous, half the Mass was adlibbed, the homily downplayed the actual demands of the days gospel. I went out, sat in my car and thought- “I don’t feel like I went to church, my soul is disturbed, I feel like I went to anti-church. I’m going to Matins at the Orthodox Church.”. I stood through Matins and Divine Liturgy, it was sung well. I was already familiar with the structure but this was richer than those other liturgies. It is a vibrant parish, very welcoming and clearly uncompromisingly oriented toward Christ. I couldn’t help feeling that we were of the same religion while the priest who sabotaged that mornings Mass clearly was not.

I was now forced to examine the claims of Orthodoxy vs the claims of Rome. There are lots of periphery factors in the Great and continuing Schism but the core of it is the question of proper ecclesiology, and specifically what the role of the bishop of Rome is.

I guess there is going to need to be a part three where I hash out the historical/theological details and why I’m sticking with Rome.

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Why I’m Sticking With Rome

At least for now.

This is Part 1 which gives the underlying background.

I have endured a sort of struggle of faith over the last couple of years. Its roots go back further than that but over the last couple years that it has become pronounced. There are others going through a similar struggle, for most it has been caused by the current Pope. I want to first state that my struggle is not in reaction to the current Pope, although he has certainly accelerated it. I reached a point with this blog where I ceased writing, in part, because I couldn’t in good faith say, without hesitation, that those outside the Catholic Church should enter it.

I have not written much of my initial conversion to Catholicism but I must mention in (very) brief some necessary details. I was baptized a Catholic as an infant but my parents left the church a couple of years later. My childhood religion was American Evangelicalism. Mainly of the Pentecostal sort found in the “Assemblies of God”. It was an emotionally intense (too intense for my temperament) and somewhat anti-intellectual. In adolescence these qualities became increasingly problematic. At age 14 I found an old Latin/English Mass book in my grandmother’s attic and she encouraged me to take it. This was my initial exposure to Catholicism. I became a sort of crypto-Catholic. I remember sneaking into my mother’s jewelry box to quickly pray the rosary on her set beads which she had kept. I began living a hedonistic life a couple years later, my late teens were a very dark time. I have to pass over a lot of details for the sake of brevity, but eventually, I began to search for the truth. I studied everything I could get my hands of from, Atheism to Zoroastrianism, eventually coming to the conclusion that Christianity was true and Protestantism untenable. Eastern orthodoxy seemed to simply be some small residual nationalist churches who quarreled among themselves as much as anyone else, and I lacked much information on them, so I dismissed them as irrelevant. So, in the year 2000 I entered the Catholic Church.

Becoming a Catholic was incredibly difficult. The Rochester NY diocese and its bishop were one of the most “liberal” in the US at the time. (Note- “liberal” For lack of a better term, self-described ‘liberal Catholics’ typically reject a good many teachings which are not optional, and want to change things which are un-changeable). I enrolled in the RCIA program, which was horrible. For example, at my first RCIA meeting I was told that “we don’t baptize to remove original sin the church has done away with that horrible idea” I knew this wasn’t true. I was told that “Vatican II” got rid of this or that thing (quite often something I thought was beautiful). Eventually, thanks to intervention from my Catholic grandparents, the priest of the parish gave my private instruction and finding that I already knew the faith quite well privately received me into the Church.

At, this point I was 20 years old. I had broken off most of my friendships because those friendships revolved around immoral lifestyles. I knew no, there weren’t any, practicing Catholics my age. I was pretty much alone. The likelihood of attending a Mass where the homily would contain heresy or some really weird liturgical abuse wouldn’t happen was slim. (Dancing girls with flaming bowls of incense or hosts containing honey made by a parishioner and distributed from a Tupperware container were some of the more extreme I’ve witnessed.) Then the sexual abuse scandal broke. Through all of this I remained Catholic because and only because I believed it was true. Just because certain clergy reject and undermine the teaching they are supposed to accept and defend doesn’t mean that the Faith is untrue. Personal grave sin, while unfortunate, is to be expected of individuals, so again it doesn’t mean the Faith is untrue.

So, I suffered a lot. Over time the situation improved. I got involved in the movement to restore ‘tradition’, we received a new bishop and other things. There are now signs of light and spring at the local level, there is also a wearying struggle for the timeless Faith against the spirit of the age. That said the majority of Catholics are still so in name only. Most of the clergy are unfaithful, successors of Judas. The liturgies are nearly exclusively those which were composed by a committee with an agenda in the late 1960s. Also, I am now married with children, so there are other souls whose salvation I need to be concerned with.

I became increasingly aware of the Christian East, and of first millennium church history. Over time certain discrepancies began to bother me. Part 2 to follow.

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An Update

I haven’t written in quite some time. I even let the 500th anniversary of the Reformation slide through without finishing my ‘Protestant Mythology” series. The reason is that I’ve been going through a sort of crisis of faith. I have now come to a certain rest in that struggle and will.. or at least am planning on laying the whole thing out in writing.

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Celebrating Fatima?

 

Image result for miricle of the sun

Today is the 100 year anniversary of the miracle of the sun at Fatima. This event, witnessed by thousands including hostile skeptics is seen as validation of the apparitions. About a year ago, maybe less, I received a packet in the mail from the local Catholic radio station. Labeled “celebrating Fatima” it contained a commemorative keychain and some other devotional items of the syrupy sentimental sort. This is entirely wrong headed. Just as effeminate spirituality has transferred Jesus from the dread judge of the living, dead and world by fire to a soft inoffensive nice guy; it has transferred Our Lady of Fatima to an object of sentimentality.

Devotion to Fatima has largely been successfully reduced to images of the Lady and three shepherd children. Fatima was a warning. To put it in my own words “pray the Rosary, do penance, make sacrifices, consecrate Russia otherwise the errors of Russia will spread and really bad stuff will happen”. This is serious business and a warning to be headed not celebrated.

These warnings have largely not been headed in my opinion. “The errors of Russia” is usually interpreted as communism. “But we won the cold war” some will object. Ah, but did we? Contemporary western culture is dominated by postmodernism, which as Dr. Jordan Peterson explains is Marxism. Other errors of Russia, daughters of Marx, which many are unaware of, are it’s sexual revolution. Widespread pornography, abortion, easy divorce/temporary marriage, normalized perversion and huge numbers of abandoned children wandering the streets. The resultant social problems in the USSR became so great that the communist party had to completely reverse its policy on sexual “liberation”. Sound familiar?

So those of us who believe in the apparition of Fatima aught to heed it, albeit imperfectly, by praying and making sacrifices. We should also oppose the watering down of the message into a sentimental attachment to the image of OL Fatima. Taken in conjunction with the vision of Pope Leo XIII we might hope, assuming that it was the 20th century which was given to Satan, that the triumph of the Immaculate Heart is coming soon.

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Protestant Mythology #2

Myth #1

PulpBib

Recently I was at my parents’ house and paged through the KJV family Bible. In this particular volume, rather than printing the Apocrypha between the testaments as it should be, the editors put supplementary material there. Essays on the inter-testamental period, touching on the Apocrypha, as well as a history of English Bibles. I was struck by a number of inaccuracy’s some of which come off as outright lies. I have decided to lay out a number of these myths with more historical detail in hopes of balancing them.

The mythology- is a cohesive narrative which goes something like this. “The evil Roman Church intentionally kept man in darkness and ignorance during the middle ages. The Roman Church suppressed the Bible by only allowing it in a corrupt Latin version which no one could understand. Additionally these Latin Bibles were physically chained to lecterns in churches so they couldn’t be read.
Additionally the Church killed anyone who tried to make the Bible accessible to people. When they could no longer keep the Bible from people they then added books to it to justify their unbiblical doctrines.”

The mythology is set up such so as to have clear good guys and bad guys. This set up, generalizes in such a way as to ignore the nuances of historical realities. This distorts an accurate understanding of the history of both the protestant reformation and the origin of translations of the Bible into English. What I’m going to do is lay out a number of myths which are typically presented as historical details.

  • “The Latin Vulgate was a horribly corrupt version of the Bible which should be rejected out of hand.” Fact- All the translations being lauded by the myth-holder for replacing the Vulgate (Luther’s German Bible, Wycliffe, Coverdale, Geneva and, oh yes though often denied, the Authorized Version). Relied heavily on the Vulgate and in most cases used it as the primary base text. Consult any standard (Oxford or Cambridge) King James Version New Testament and you will find ample evidence of the Vulgate influence, (most readily this can be seen in the form of Latinized spelling, Esaias for Isaiah, for example). Modern translators consult it also, as a valuable witness to manuscripts no longer available.
  •  “The Church kept the Scriptures in Latin to keep them from people.” Fact- Anyone in this period who could read could also understand Latin. Latin was the universal language of western Europe prior to the modern era, understood by all educated people.
  • “The Bibles that did exist were chained to keep them from people.” Fact- Prior to the printing press Bibles had to be hand copied over the course of years. Public Bibles (and other books) were chained to lecterns for the same reason banks chain pens in their teller areas today, to keep them from growing legs and walking off. Protestants themselves did this but modern evangelicals have little historical awareness, it seems the mythologists just can’t resist this one.
  • “Erasmus produced his Greek/Latin new testament to expose the Roman Church and her twisted Vulgate by exposing the errors in the Vulgate.” Fact.- Erasmus desired to produce a new improved Latin New Testament. He publishes a number of editions containing the Greek text, with his text and the Vulgate text for comparison. Many protestants like to make him one of their own but he lived and died a Papist, kept his distance from Luther and (as a humanist) militantly believed in free will. To be opposed to corruption in an institution and in favor of reform does not equate to protesting the thing itself.

I think this addresses the general myth. A perusal of any Evangelical or Fundamentalist account of the history of the English bible (they are out there, museums, films or essays) will be some version of what I covered along with the false facts.

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Have a Manly Lent

carry-it

It’s time for my annual Lenten pep talk. I’ve reshaped these same ideas the last few years and presented them differently. This year I’m going to speak as a man to men. Ladies, feel free to draw inspiration. (I’m not exactly leaving the women out, it’s just that this other way of speaking is how I’m presenting these ideas this year.)

Ok, obligatory, cautionary warning! We are talking about a spiritual workout. Just as you need to ease your way into physical exercise so as not to injure yourself. You also need to establish the basics and ease into the routine of spiritual exercise. We are in pre-lent right now, this past Sunday was Sexagesima Sunday which is 60ish days before Easter. Now is the perfect time to establish good form and a foundation for your spiritual exercises before increasing the intensity. You can do some mini fasts on Wednesday and Friday in preparation for a fuller Lenten fast, for example.

Ok, what sort of spiritual practices should we be planning on for Lent? The 3 traditional practices are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. To this we can add spiritual reading as well. Let’s examine these in greater detail.

    1. Prayer; How can you increase or intensify your daily prayer life? What does it currently look like? Do you pray the Rosary daily? Do you attend or privately pray any of the Divine Office? Do you pray with your family? Are there any obstacles in your prayer life, and what are you able to do about them? Do you go to confession? How often do you examine your conscience? Do you read the bible and spiritual writings? What can you change? Suggestion- audio books/ sermons can be fit in on the go.
    2. Fasting; Frankly the current fasting practice of most Catholics is embarrassing. Take a look at the fasting regulations from before 1960 (can be seen on the image below) or of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Now taking one’s health conditions into account, challenge yourself! If you are reasonably healthy you can follow the traditional fasting parameters without hurting yourself. It will be hard, you will suffer, but suck it up. Now, there are some who will claim that “people were holier back then we can’t handle these sort of fasts”. I call BS on this. It is true that if you’ve never done the traditional type of fast it’s a bit much to jump entirely into all at once, but at least use it as a goal to work up to. Besides, assuming it were true that people were holier in the past,  we have greater not lesser need of difficult penance than they did. Fasting can be done in creative ways as well, leaving cream and sugar out of your coffee or making your showers cold, for example. Take inventory of your life and figure out what you can do in the area of fasting. The one warning I will give is to not bite off too much initially but ease in, if you have a reliable confessor you may want to run it by him. I stress ‘reliable’ many priests are like other men of this age, soft. I would be selective in seeking advice, find a manly holy priest. Father limp-wrist will form you into a limp-wrist.
    3. Almsgiving; Give to the poor. This should be proportionate to your means, if you are gainfully employed then putting spange in the ‘rice-bowl’ doesn’t cut it. Generally speaking putting pennies in the rice bowl is for children (there are exceptions, the unemployed, elderly on limited income and so on). Give as you have received. This too might hurt a little for some of us. Do not neglect the spiritually poor as well. Offer up Masses, prayers and sacrifices for souls.
    4. Spiritual Reading; Really it probably belongs with prayer, but let’s break it out a little. I would encourage sound, solid, serious spiritual reading. Not mushy, sentimental stuff like ‘Guideposts’. Please, we have time tested works which are intended to help make us holy. Most, of this stuff is available digitally for free. I would particularly recommend ‘The Spiritual Combat’ by Scupoli. But writings of the dessert fathers and similar classic works are ideal for our purposes.

Ok, that’s pretty much it. Get real with yourself, be honest, stop making excuses. The spiritual life is one of struggle and combat. You will fall down, when that happens get back up. It will be difficult, so man up, and face it head on.

Fasting1

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