Saturday, December 31, 2005

St. John the Baptist, Kansas City, Missouri

St. John the Baptist, in the Pendleton Heights neighborhood at 531 Garfield, is no more. In its building is the Don Bosco center of Kansas City (no, the place wasn't crawling with Salesian priests).

Judging from its location, St. John the Baptist was probably folded into Assumption/St. Anthony's, which we'll look at tomorrow. As you can see from the photo, the closure involved no great loss of an architectural treasure. No cornerstone was apparent.

If there was ever a beautiful church at this site, it's obviously been torn down.
In fact, the good people of St. John the Baptist, if they did indeed get moved to Assumption/St. Anthony, landed in a place much more suitable for Catholic worship.

When I do get more time in This Far by Faith, we'll all know more.

The parish was founded in 1882, and the original church was built immediately at 1436 Independence Avenue. There was an addition of 32 feet to the nave (at a cost of $2300. In 1913, the original church was renovated, and it was frescoed by the O.J. Kover company after 1915. As populations shifted, most of the folks were living east of the Paseo. In 1954, the original church, shown below, was closed, and eventually, it was torn down in a widening of the Paseo. The parish met in the school chapel at the site shown above, and in 1959, the school gym was converted into the church (those of you who said, "Oh boy, another church that looks like a gym," as you were reading above, there you have it.

The parish was struggling to make ends meet, and the parish was partially depopulated in the mid-1960s by the construction of the Osteopathic Hospital (causing 200 families to leave when their homes, over four square blocks, were cleared) and the Garfield Urban Renewal Project, werein 10 percent of the dwellings in the parish north of Independence Avenue were condemned and razed. The church was renovated in 1968 to better reflect the Spirit of Vatican II. In 1991, the parish was supressed and the parishioners were sent to the new Queen of Peace parish at the old St. Stephen's site. The parish complex was sold to the Don Bosco Center for $350,000.

Friday, December 30, 2005

A Kansas City "Ecumenical Parish?"

Inspired as I was after lunch today with a friend, I extended my lunch and ran over to the Kansas City Public Library Central Branch, where I flipped quickly through This Far by Faith once again, this time with the object of identifying additional Kansas City parishes that have closed and getting some addresses.

I wrote down about 20 candidates (not including those which I've already covered), and this evening compared my list to the diocesan parish list online. Seven were still listed as in use; 13 are closed. I'll try to sneak away this weekend with my camera (and probably at least one little Curmudgeon in tow) and get pictures to post. Then, when I have time, I'll go back and review the entries that Fr. Coleman compiled and add little snippets to the blog.

Once I've done these 13, I'll see what I can learn about closed churches on the Kansas side (I only know of two or three right now).

But here's the point of my post: One thing I did see in This Far by Faith, and I took time to skim, was an eye-opener from the days of Bishop Helmsing. You've heard about "ecumenical" parishes here and there--most recently in Germany--where Catholics and heretics share facilities and even have common services. You say "that would never happen here?" You're wrong! In 1966, Bishop Helmsing permitted St. Mark's inner city ecumenical parish to begin operating. The "community," shall we say, was a joint effort with the Episcopalians, the United Presbyterians, and the United Church of Christ. In 1967, Bishop Helmsing heard from Rome: the Holy Office objected. However, Helmsing let it continue over Rome's objections until sometime around 1973, when the "Catholic" involvement in the project finally dwindled to nothing.

This story makes me very curious about Bishop Helmsing. I wonder where one can get the unofficial history--i.e., the real scoop--about what was happening in the diocese in the late 60s and early 70s.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On Hilaire Belloc

Me: I know it's almost heresy for a traditional Catholic to say so, but I'm halfway through Characters of the Reformation, I'm not so sure about Hilaire Belloc.

Mrs. Curmudgeon: What do you mean?

Me: I mean, his subject matter is interesting, and his conjecture and intimations about the motives and characters of his subjects are well developed, but I'm not so sure about his style.

Mrs. C: His style?

Me: He seems to be talking down to me. When you read Chesterton, for instance, he's interacting with you as a wise friend. When you read Christopher Dawson, he's interacting with you as an eager scholar. Belloc is almost cheeky to his readers sometimes, like we're high school kids or something. Don't care for it.

Mrs. C: Belloc IS French, you know.

Me: He's English.

Mrs. C: Half French.

Me: Oh, How do you know this?

Mrs. C: It's on the back jacket of your book.

Me: Duh. That explains everthing.

(No charge to the good folks at TAN to the link to the page where this book can be purchased. It's still worth reading, and TAN is always worth supporting by buying their books directly, so they can keep the retail margin and put it into new projects)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I was a dancer on Soul Train every week, from when I was 14 until I met Art.

Here I am, stuck in a public waiting room with a TV, and the TV is on. Somehow, I've managed to read almost 100 pages of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation all the same. In between sketches of fools like Henry VIII, scoundrels like Cranmer and the Cromwells, heroes like More and repentent men like Gardiner, I've been fighting the TV. When I walked in, there was some judge show, where real people, the likes of which I don't hang out with (or even know, I hope) were in front of some clown arbitrator in a black robe whose function it was to alternate inane questions with jokes about the actor playing a bailiff. At issue, apparently, was a dispute between the foundress of a dance team that performed during arena football games, and some usurper who had stripped her of honors and expelled the foundress because she was apparently fraternizing with the players, which was against the team's rules (can we set that scene to the music of Mary had a little lamb?).

Other people were watching. Of course, it's not rude to make other people listen to your TV show, but it's rude to ask other people not to make you listen to it Eventually, the folks who were watching the drivel left to get some lunch. Click. Then I was called into another room. When I came back, another group was watching some show about dragons--not fierce mythical, demonic flying serpents. These were cuddly, sissy cartoon dragons. That program gave way, mercifully, to the local noon news, or so I thought. At least it was easier to mostly tune out a news anchor than the silly, sissy songs about some dragon who wants to be a charro (which I guess, is a Mexican cowboy, but I naturally think of the buxom, hyperactive perenial Love Boat guest from my misspent youth).

With the news started, my theory that the inanity I see on the local news where my parents live was due to the fact that they are in a mostly-rural TV market (with low-end twenty-something airheads running the station) went out the window. What I caught on the Kansas City news (I don't know which station, but it doesn't matter, does it?) shocked me. I hadn't much more than walked by a Kansas City news program since 1996 or 1997. There was a TV doctor (who obviously recognized that anyone who was watching him was stupid) talking about Tylenol poisoning in a way that made it clear he thought everyone who was watching him was stupid. There was a "Try It Before You Buy It" segment, testing a cheap, noisy chocolate fondue fountain, which never considered the most important factor with such an appliance: how hard it was to clean after your kids spent ten minutes spattering chocolate marshmellows and strawberries at one another. Also something about the tragedy of some motorcycle accident somwhere on State Line Road--no specifics; I wouldn't have been sure it was State Line Road but for the recognizable Black & Veatch building in the background (admittedly, I was immersed, with Belloc, in the motives of Thomas Cramner at the time, or I might have caught which intersection it had happened at). There was more to come, the anchor assured me, but at that point, the other people in the waiting room left. Click.

I read for a while, then I go the OK to run out and get a bite of lunch. When I came back, it was on again. Promos for the afternoon's "Judge Judy" episodes gave way to an episode of COPS. The other folks in the room left. Click. A fellow I was waiting on came in and talked to me. When I came back, another set of folks had the end of COPS on again, followed by Montel Williams, where apparently uneducated women were talking about their heroic efforts to rescue their children from abusive estranged husbands, trying to explain how the Uniform Child Jurisdiction Act tied local officials' hands as state officials from former homes tracked them down and returned their girls to the molesting fathers. Tears galore. Without diminishing the serious of such things when they legitimately arise, I was impressed that a venue existed for such low-class people to come on, and with tears and Montel's comforting hand, and defame their former spouses.

Continuing to read: Catherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor . . . .

Now, it's Montel Williams with some woman describing how she had been terrorized by some guy she picked up named Art. How she'd had a happy life, and it at first seemed she was making it even happier with Art in it, until, one day Art popped his lid, came home, started pistol whipping her and shooting her son. At least I think that's what it was. Happily, I was called away again and missed most of it. When I came back, the waiting room was empty. Click. I was alone in the room for the rest of the day until I was able to leave about 3:30. I was not forced to sit through back-to-back episodes of Judge Judy. Whew.

Yes, we all know that daytime TV programming is bad, but we don't appreciate just how bad until we're in a nearly captive situation. The advertisements tell the rest of the story: proprietary trade schools implying that a year-and-a-half of training with them in electronics or business management will lead to a job where you can afford the BMW SUV and a $300,000 house (when I have a professional degree and can't manage it--or at least dare not try). Car title loans and payday loans. "Free" scooters and power chairs for the "mobility challenged," once medicare/medicaid chips in. Massage therapy schools recruiting a new class (every one of our graduates loves what they do for people). New surgical procedures to help you lose the lard on your backside without resorting to self-discipline. A few hours of daytime programming and advertisements is an insight for those of us who are living the professional life, or living simple, good Catholic working lives to see what we're really up against.

We all know about the enemy leadership in the culture wars. We see them at work every day in the articles linked in CWNews and Seattle Catholic and our other favorite portals. Our own Catholic pundits have analyzed them rather thoroughly. But do we really know about the ranks of enemy troops? The ordinary footsoldiers? (I use "footsoldiers" loosely because these people don't appear to spend much time on their feet). A few hours of TV is quite an introduction. I simply can't imagine. I don't understand them. Empathy fails me. What is it like to sit all day, every day, and watch the world go by? Treading water? Giving someone a lien on one's car in order to get money to go get drunk on a beach somewhere, and then hawking an heirloom or getting a payday loan in order to keep from defaulting on the car title loan? To have no object and no goal, either spiritual or temporal? To watch programs like Montel Williams , which, I argue, is worse than Jerry Springer? (the former show takes itself seriously)

I cannot relate to them. I cannot begin to guess how they can be won over. Perhaps I should take comfort in the fact that while during this "cold war" era in culture wars, their inertia may be effective in holding back our cause, if things ever turn into a hot war, they'll stationary targets on their couches (or at least slow-moving targets in their "free" scooters and power chairs, and they won't be able to retreat in their vehicles because the car title loan place has foreclosed the liens and replevined them.

For those who haven't given up on the New Mass translations

Some time ago, I quit paying close attention to the substance of the US bishops' debate over the New Mass translations. I haven't read the Adoremus Bulletin in about a year, for instance, and I haven't really read the "What does the prayer really say" column in the Wanderer either. I've long-ago decided that new Mass translations aren't my battle, since I've discovered the old rite.

So I turn away, averting my eyes from the train wreck that's coming. All these well-meaning people believe that somehow, everything's going to be better once we get a good, authentic, translation of the New Mass! In truth, I'd like a better translation of the New Mass, because, even though I find myself at New Mass less and less, I will continue to have the occasional Christmas, family baptism, wedding or other event to attend. And of course, I'd like to see a good transaction of the new Mass simply because it would evidence that there is a palpable change in momentum in the Church. But, I just don't see believe that good will win out in the new Mass translations, because the forces are arrayed against it.

Anyways, with that being said, I did get pointed to, and read, the transcript of discussions on the liturgy posted by the Adoremus Bulletin from the USCCB fall meeting. Even in the transcript, without hearing the tone or seeing the expressions, you can see the great gulf among the Bishops.

After Bishop Allen Vigneron (who is, BTW, building that hideous thing in Oakland...his own Taj Mahoney) asked why Trautman why his panel elected to make numerous changes to the ICEL text (reverting to the 1970 text) what were not requested by the larger body of bishops, and which the bishops are not being allowed to consider separately. Trautman answers:
Bishop Trautman: I’ll try to put that in perspective for you. First of all, I would repeat that all of the written responses received as part of the consultation -- all of that documentation -- will be forwarded directly to the ICEL Secretariat. The Liturgy Committee has studied in depth the people’s parts, and as a working principle felt, because of pastoral sensitivities, since the texts are in possession, that we would recommend staying with the present texts already in possession, the 1970 translation -- with the exception of the three that we are surveying the body on at this moment. The working principle of the body has been, because of pastoral sensitivity, we decided to stay with the people’s parts. We decided not to change those people’s parts, unless there was a doctrinal issue involved or something of that nature. So that’s the rationale.

Ah, yes, deep pastoral sensitivity.
Bishop Samuel Aquila (Fargo): In looking at the survey and surveying the bishops, I am really uncomfortable with this process. Because I really see it as the panel rejecting Liturgiam authenticam. Liturgiam authenticam is clear on what the changes need to be. While I understand some of the pastoral reasoning, even with some of the faithful and some of the priests in my diocese, when I’ve spoken with them about the changes that will be coming and I showed them the difference between what is in the Latin translation and what we have in the 1970 Missal, they are very understanding of why it needs to change.

Bishop Aquila (who I assume has no connection to the failed Kansas City company) says, politely, but clearly, that Trautman and his buddies have hijacked the process, and that his priests and laity aren't too stupid to handle a change for the better. Trautman responds:
Bishop Trautman: I assure you it’s not a question of picking and choosing. If you were present for our Committee deliberations I think you would find from the Committee that we take very, very carefully the principles from Liturgiam authenticam. Applying them is another issue; we try to apply them in a pastoral way. I don’t know if any of the Committee members want to add to that, supplement….

Yes, Bishop Trautman, "applying them is another matter."

Then one of Bishop Gumbleton's peers in Detroit underscores the point that Trautman and his boys are planning on forwarding recommendations to ICEL without approval of the larger body:
Bishop Earl Bouyea (Aux. Detroit): I just have a question on page four of your purple book. You have list of texts there that you say, retain some from the 1970 ICEL text -- for instance, the Confiteor, the Creed, the Suscipiat, the Sanctus, the Memorial Acclamations and the Agnus Dei -- that you want to retain from the 1970 ritual. What is the weight of what you’ve done on this page? In other words, when you say these are the “recommendations of the panel”, to whom are they recommendations? To us or to ICEL?

Bishop Trautman: To ICEL

Bishop Bouyea: So, in other words, you are speaking in our name to ICEL in making these recommendations.

Bishop Trautman: That is correct...

Bishop Bouyea: But I guess my question is: so these recommendations of your panel will not go to ICEL until we’ve had a chance to vote on them or something?

Bishop Trautman: We are compelled, I think, to present our recommendation to ICEL without a formal vote from the body.

Later Bishop Bruskewitz jumps in:

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz (Lincoln): I don’t have a copy of Liturgiam
here, but are those three issues in the gold folder -- weren’t they mentioned specifically in Liturgiam authenticam?

Bruskewitz is pointing out that Trautman's boys have ignored Liturgiam authenticam's general principles and have only put in the survey three points that were specifically addressed in Liturgiam authenticam to a vote so that many of the Bishops would vote specifically against the principles of Liturgiam authenticam, with no opportunity to vote on changes that are consistent with those principles.

Later, Bishop Vigneron (he of the ugly cathedral) jumps back in:

Bishop Vigneron: I realize that this is my second time to stand, but I think this is a follow-up to my concern. There are thirteen occasions when our Committee is recommending to ICEL keeping the 1970 texts when no one wrote to the Committee to say there was a problem with that text. And I find that very problematic.

No good answer from Trautman. He's operating on the "Spirit of Liturgiam Authenticam" or somesuch thing which has nothing to do with the letter, of course. He goes back very soon to being pastoral:

Bishop Trautman: There’s a pastoral sensitivity at this point. What can we take to our people in terms of a radical change in the way they have been praying for some thirty years?

What kind of pastoral sensitivity? The kind that guided men of his ilk when they tried to wipe out the old Mass just an historical moment ago. Nobody ever raises that point--that the new translations we have are only 35 years old, and were imposed without pastoral consideration for those who were attached to the old Mass, in Latin. BUT WAIT, an unnamed Bishop does make that point (the first time I've heard anyone in the clerical state make it in this context):
Bishop [unidentified]: I think the fact that we’re going to have these
texts for a long period of time, as you indicated, makes me less receptive to the argument that it would be upsetting for people who have gotten used to these texts over the last 30 or 35 years. Thirty-five years ago we changed texts that had been in use for four hundred years. Now, that upset many people, but we did that for strong reasons. And I think we shouldn’t say: “Well, we’re not going to do it now because that will upset people”. If we have defective translations, or translations that could be improved, I think we should do that now. Sort of bite the bullet. Get it done, and get it done right. And so we can live with that for a long period of time.

Well, it's a shame that he's defending, out of hand, the chaos started 35 years ago, but at least he's making the point that it's stupid and silly to worry about wiping out a mere 35 years of erroneous and misleading paraphasing. I wish I knew who that bishop was. I'd like to think it was my bishop standing up to Trautman, even if doing so imperfectly.

It's pretty obvious that Trautman and the Liturgy Committee continue to run amok, applying their own principles to the project, instead of Rome's and instead of with the body of bishops (so much for collegiality). Bishop Ricard of Pensacola/Tallahassee (one of the Florida bishops who stood silent while Terri Schiavo was starved) raises the only point of hope near the end of the discussion: that Trautman can't get his vote on the new translation when it comes back from ICEL, and it's imposed by Rome.
Bishop Ricard: I certainly agree that this is a good idea. Just another possibility, just expanding the remarks of Archbishop Pilarczyck, it seems to me that the house is divided, as you’ve commented several times. When we come to the White Book or the Green Book, and do that, I don’t think there’s going to be a sudden surge of unity. Maybe there will be, but I suspect not. Is another possibility that simply if we can’t come to a two-thirds agreement on a text that someone else will do it? That it will be out of our hands. Is that possible? That the Holy See does the whole thing? I think that’s something we ought to anticipate.

But then Trautman asserts his conference's, and therefore his own power--perhaps he believes he can wear the bishops down in the end:

Bishop Trautman: Ponder that question -- but I would still cite what’s in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: that it is the competence of the bishops’ conference to decide vernacular translations.*

OH! I'm so glad I've discovered the old Rite. It's so refreshing to know that (unless I'm send to someplace like Odessa, Texas, or prison (is there a difference?), my own worship will not be affected.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Shallow thoughts on Boxing Day

What has occured to me today, on the Feast of St. Stephen? Instead of anything profound, it's a memory of the television program The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo. Somebody shoot me.

Duchess of Cornwall

I've been corrected by Hilary, who points out that Camilla Parker Bowles is not styled a "princess"; she is merely the Duchess of Corwall. Indeed. I suppose I would know that if I read supermarket tabloids or watched more TV. (I'm certainly not suggesting that's where Hilary gets her information. She is, after all, a subject of the British monarchy in some vague sense).

For my part, I suppose with a little more thought and research, I wouldn't have referred to "Prince Charles," either, as I suppose the proper way St. James would make any annoucement is simply to refer to the "Prince of Wales." What do I know?

And for Hilary, I wonder if it's safe for her to refer to the Windsors and their concubines as "usurpers"? It's certainly safe for a Yank like me to do so. But somone actually living in the Dominions claimed by the usurper can get herself hanged, drawn and quartered, can't she?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas from the Curmudgeons

Wishing the couple dozen folks who usually float by this blog every few days (and the occasional new visitor) a very blessed Christmas.

For those of you who have to spend Christmas with relatives, visiting strange parishes where an indecently-dressed (and perhaps tipsy) stranger arrives late and is crammed into your pew, where you must endure a half-hour of children's' carolling that includes Jingle Bells and Rudolph before what is loosely described as a Christmas Mass, and (if you are disposed, at that point, to take communion at all) where you have to finesse your way into the priests' line to get a stare and a sigh because you receive our Lord kneeling, on the tongue, you are not alone! I, too, share your predicament. Take a confessor's advice, and carry along your 1962 Missal so you can pray it during the course of the Mass. And perhaps next year, invite the family to your house for Christmas, where you're within range of a good old-Rite Mass (after all, tolerating your nominally Catholic brother-in-law's complaints about the "guy mumbling to the wall in Latin" while he drinks your liquor next year is a small price to pay to avoid a repeat of this year's fiasco, isn't it?).


PS, Yes, Darth Inebrious, we're aware that you're not among us unfortunates this night, and for that we are envious.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas from the New York Times.

Passed along to me and attributed to the New York Times, 25 December 1937.

We hear the beating of wings over Bethlehem and a light that is not of the sun or of the stars shines in the midnight sky. Let the beauty of the story take away all narrowness, all thought of formal creeds. Let it be remembered as a story that has happened again and again, to men of many different races, that has been expressed through many religions, that has been called by many different names. Time and space and language lay no limitations upon human brotherhood.
Simply nauseating. Such a passage, if authentically attributed, disproves the typical conservative complaint about the NYT, i.e., that it's an historically great paper that's gone wrong in recent years.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Another Jacobite Rising?

The radio is saying that Franz, Duke of Bavaria, rightful King of England, Scotland and Wales, being a faithful Catholic, has finally (with the implementation of the domestic partnerships bill), decided to do his duty, raise an army, and move to restore legitimate government to the British Isles.

He has, from his camp, promised to make an immigration/emigration decree that will permit almost any Western Christian to immigrate, permit any person who'd rather not live in a Christian country to emigrate, and to generally require those who served in the government of the pretender Elizabeth to go into exile, with the promise not to execute anyone who accepts it quietly.

He's also offered a ten-year plan to restore Church lands to the historic dioceses that were usurped by the heretics and schismatics, and to restore certain of the monastic lands, but only on condition that the Holy Father entirely suppress the parallel Catholic hierarchy and appoint a new hierarchy to the historic dioceses that are worthy of their sees and committed to using the restored patrimony for the greater honor and glory of God.

Although the reaction around official Europe is one of outrage, over a million British, tens of thousands of Canadians, Americans, and Irish as well as French and Germans have pledged themselves to the renewed Jacobite cause. In response, Parliament has passed a new Act of Supremacy, reminiscent of that from the time of Henry VIII, requiring an oath of loyalty to Parliament and recognition of Elizabeth II as the rightful, but impotent, monarch. Although there has been limited violence so far (and that largely instigated by secularlists) Prime Minister Blair and the Home Secretary are preparing to declare martial law. The existing Catholic hierarchy in Britain has denounced Franz, as have other prelates around the world. Only Bishop Fred Henry in Calgary, Archbishop Charles Chaput and Bishops Fabian Bruskewitz and Thomas Olmstead have expressed any positive sentiments toward the threatened rising. Strangely, Buckingham Palace released a statement that it would be inappropriate for the Queen to take a position in the matter, deferring instead to Her Majesty's government. St. James spokesmen have stated that Prince Charles and Princess Camilla intend to continue on their Italian ski trip as planned.

American President Bush has invoked the Patriot Act to arrest and detain outspoken American Jacbite supporters incommunicado, and he has pledged troops to help quell what he termed a "fundamentalist uprising that threatens American ideals."

Six o'clock already?

Hmm. Fred Henry, Archbishop of Canterbury? Charles Chaput, Archbishop of York?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

If you want me to shop at your store, quit blaring obnoxious, offensive music at me!!!

OK, it's bad enough to endure the stuff when I'm in a store doing my own shopping, but tonight I took a friend who doesn't drive out so he could complete his shopping. Without my own purchase objectives to focus on, it was just about unbearable. Especially at Christmas. If I hear Santa Baby one more time, I just might hurt someone.

Obviously, I'm not the sort of customer these folks really want in their stores.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


"The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice."

--G.K. Chesteron

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Old Man is tempting me.

As I logged on this evening to get a little work done (real work, not blogging), I discovered 11 new hostile messages from the SNAP crowd in my Inbox related to my October 13, 2005 rant about the clergy abuse plaintiffs' bar on clerical abuse cases, plus a (rather benign, but inviting) comment from the new occupant on my post about Holy Trinity.

Ooooh, how much fun it would be to answer each and everyone on of those email messages! How much fun it would be to compile bits and pieces from each of them, including this little gem from another, an "ex catholic and survivor of abuse by Jesuit priests" :

Mr or Ms curmudgeon.. is a pathetic example of the slime of the catholic church.. the insane thinking of them and their refusal to accept responsibility and accountability for the crimes against humanity and the planet inflicted by THEIR church, religion and relgious authorities.. it is this very laity who i see as co rapists and co molestors of the millions of children and adults abused by catholic teaching and clergy through out history...
Yes, an honest man! He's not "seeking justice" against the abusers themselves, he's out to get all of us Catholics and destroy Holy Mother Church! Here's my first-class ticket to heaven! A man who would martyr me!

But it's the Old Man tempting me, isn't he? My new most frequent sin . . . wasting time on the internet. The Old Man is saying, "C'mon Curmudgeon, he called you a 'co rapist and co molestor'--just a few minutes to have a little fun with that remarkable line--after all, your work isn't anything you can't hammer out first thing in the morning, and your wife is doing just fine with the kids while you are upstairs tilting at virtual windmills."

OK, I'm going to resist. I've got to get some stuff done for work in the morning. Later in the week, I've got to help out Mrs. Curmudgeon as we get ready for our Christmas marathon, and I've got to get to bed at a decent hour. I've got to help a family member out with a business purchase she's in the middle of. I've got to get back to praying at least Vespers or Compline before bed in the evenings. In short--I've got to stay away from the blog--or at least avoid any time-consuming semi-substantive posts until at least next week. Neither can I spend time in lengthy corresondence with the invincibly ignorant until then.

But OH, it's so hard!

Yes, I'm going to try! At least for a few days more, the barber's basin comes off my head, I leave Rosinante in the stable, and I attend to the mundane business of La Mancha.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG about Annunciation Church

A reader responded to my post on the story of Annunciation Church to say that I my source was wrong (or I read my source wrong) about the 1975 "renovation" there.

And I'm quite happy to be wrong on this point--the reader says that if you peer inside the building, you'll see that the baldachino, altar, and rail are still in place. Hurrah.

Of course, it's still an abandoned church, but an abandoned church is better than a wrecked church any day of the week.

Light blogging this coming week

A busy weekend meant no more research or photographing on my closed church project, and a busy week ahead means light blogging until next weekend rolls about.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

On Vatican II

People much smarter, much better read, and of much better grounded faith than me have commented on Vatican II in great detail, so there's little I can say that won't make myself look ignorant and foolish by comparison. But having listened to and read so much about V-II in the last week (with the 40th anniversary of the closing of the Council on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception Thursday), I just have to say something, not just to the National Catholic Distorter crowd, but also to the folks at EWTN, Catholic Answers, and other non-dissenting organs:

Stop telling me what a great gift the Council was to the church! Stop telling me how enriched we've all been by the Council! Stop telling me how uplifting the aggiornamento has been! Stop telling me how we've come to an "adult faith"!

You can remind me that V-II was a valid council. I accept that. You can tell me that John XXIII loved the Church and called the Council with good intentions, and remind me the vast majority of the fathers who participated did so in good faith. I accept that. You can remind me that the Holy Spirit protected the Council from promulgating any outright doctrinal error. I accept that, and I affirm each and every point of doctrine repeated by the Council as true. But that's enough. Don't try to convince me that the Council and its aftermath has been good for the Church. Don't try to convince me that I must not just accept, but agree with, the overly-optimistic pastoral orientation expressed in the Council documents. Don't make me express my appreciation for the ambiguities...the chinks in the armour...that have been exploited by Satan's Little Helpers ever since. I accept the Council, but I won't embrace it. I'll wait patiently (while doing what is necessary to protect the souls of my children) for matters to be set aright by Holy Mother Church, in good time. I won't give up. But I won't pretend that the implosion of the institutional Church in America . . . in Europe . . . in Latin America . . . heck, everywhere...has nothing to do with the pastoral orientation of Council.

I know very well that--with the general degradation of Western culture--the Church would probably have suffered and perhaps contracted some over the last 40 years even without the Council, but you'll never convince me that it would have been worse, not better, had the Church stayed on the course charted and navigated between the First and the Second Vatican Council.

Ahem. I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything--there are people better equipped than I am who can do that. I'm just drawing a line and asking that you not cross it. Don't cross it. Not here in my comment boxes, not on my car radio, not in the publications that are delivered to my house, no where. Just don't cross it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A note about Guardian Angels and Our Lady of Good Counsel, KCMO

[July 16: I've updated this by adding photos, and just rewriting and reorganizing this post]

In perusing This Far by Faith for information on closed churches, I ran across two open churches that I have to comment on, at least in passing.


The first, Guardian Angels on Westport Road, was originally planned with a grand campanile, but it was never built.

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Yes, this is one of those churches you want to stop at as you drive by, because the interior must be specatular, right?

Wrong! This place has been thoroughly vandalized in the spirit of Vatican II and is now as ugly as anything you can find in Johnson County or way-out south in KCMO.

We'll start with close-ups of the old high altar, decorated for Easter or Christmas. Christmas, I think. Like that altar? Like those murals? Like the gold leaf in the vaulting?

Obviously somebody didn't. Now we'll look at what they did, starting in 1966. Doesn't it bring tears to your eyes?

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Note the resurrected Christ on the crucifix (no suffering here, folks, unless you're a traddie!!!). Note the baby-blue carpet, like what was pulled out of Old St. Pat's recently. Note how they lowered and darkened the arches with that stained plywood. Symbolic of the lower, cheaper aspirations of the church today, would you say? What on earth do you say to people who thought this was an improvement? Ugh. Those poor donors who originally gave to the construction of the church! Perhaps seeing this from above is enough suffering to get them out of Purgatory? And what sort of sheep are we, to let the wolves sweep in and destroy something so beautiful in the Spirit of Vatican II?

Anyways, Guardian Angels is, for all intents and purposes, a loss. As you can see below sanctuary has been wrecked, and for many years it's been run by laymen, rather than priests, with sacramental services provided by those lovable Jesuits.

There's apparently a big capital campaign afoot to do another renovation. Here's the little model that they have in the back of the church:

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Instead of the restorations like you're seeing elsewhere in the diocese, like St. Anthony, where the sanctuary once again has a high altar, as it was intended to (and as is more fitting to our Lord), these people have more of the same planned. Finally, they'll get rid of the last of that awful, hierarchical communion rail, and they'll have a piano up front so they can see who's performing more favorites from Marty Haugen!


The second, Our Lady of Good Counsel at 39th and Washington (also in Westport), is still a somewhat beautiful church. The high altar remains, and (although as late as 1996 it was surrounded by a sea of (nearly empty) chipped blond wood veneer pews, green/gold carpet, and walls the color of what gets deposited in my nursing infant son's diapers). Back then, there were three separate islands for the newfangled ambo, altar, and cantor stand built up from the floor just outside the sanctuary, and in the Spirit-of-You-Know-What, the highest island wasn't for our Lord on the new altar--it was for the cantor (back then, by the way, the Glory n' Praise books were still in the pews from the pastor's predecessor, but happily, the pastor didn't let the music director actually use them. They were replaced with Adoremus hymnals as soon as they came out.)
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Anyways, the septuagenarian pastor (now an octogenarian, and still pastor) has managed to restore Good Counsel to some semblance of its original beauty with new oak pews, appropriate carpet and tile, white walls with gold accents on the columns, a orderly and somewhat less objectionable arrangement of the newfangled altar and ambo. If you're in Kansas City, and you're not interested in the Tridentine Mass (and yo should be, BTW), this is the place to go for a good novus ordo--as reverent as the NO can be, with a Latin Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei. Most people receive our Lord on the tongue, with many kneeling. There's been a transformation in the congregation here over the last ten years as well. Where once there were a couple dozen old ladies at Mass every Sunday, now there's a nave full of families and a vestibule full of kids--nearly all homeschooled. I'm told collections have increased eight- or ten-fold, and with that money has made long-neglected and substantial structural and mechanical restorations to the church and parish plant. Unfortunately, though, some of the damage done by the wolves, such as the loss of most of the altar rail, the ceiling fans and the messed up lighting, and 12"x12" acoustic tiles over the ceiling, remains.

But I digress. Here's my point:

Today there is inoffensive non-representational stenciling behind the side altars and in the sanctuary that I thought was original, or at least very nearly so. However, in This Far by Faith, I found a photograph of the sanctuary as it appeared before a 1955 renovation. Wow. Where that stenciling is now, there were murals (of what subjects, I could not tell). There were beautiful light fixtures hanging in the nave, too. What a pity that they're gone! Even with all the good work that pastor has done in saving the parish and restoring the building, he'll never be able to completely undo the damage done over the years.


I've found photos of the old Guardian Angels and the old Good Counsel interiors. I've been waiting to post them until I could get over and take new shots of the interiors, but I've just never made it over (no, I don't have a good excuse--I do live in midtown where they are now located). Anways, here I'm posting what I've got.

First, the original sanctuary at Good Counsel before the 1955 rennovations, and second, the sanctuary from an early-1990s photo. Happily, the pastor keeps the ugly modern altar table covered now, and things have been somewhat restored. You can see the high altar in color in the background.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

More on Annunciation Church, KCMO

I first featured Annunciation Church on November 21, 2005. As noted in some of my other updates, the Church of the Annunciation became the home of the consolidated Church of the Risen Christ in 1975, and it was itself shuttered sometime after This Far by Faith was published in 1992.

Annunciation was another church that took some time to get going. As you can see from the cornerstone photo in my original post, it was laid in October 1903. However, it wasn't fully completed, furnished and dedicated until 1924. The original cost of building was projected to be $75,000, although (based on the cost of other churches in that era) it undoubtedly cost more to build. The debt from the original construction was paid in 1946.

It was in a Norman Gothic style, and like its sister churches in the area—it was designed to hold about 1,000 people. As was plain from looking at the façade, there were towers for the east and west façade planned but never built. This Far by Faith has a rendering of the church with the towers as planned at page 112. The stained glass (now gone) was made in Innsbruck, and was appraised at $650,000 in the 1980s. The sanctuary featured a baldachino 34' tall and 21' wide. There was a renovation of some sort in the 1940s, and another in the 1975 after the consolidation. More properly, the 1975 work was a demolition: the liturgical vandals wrecked the baldachino and communion rail and replaced the original altar (which, from the description, sounded beautiful) with some sort of table.

On this, the fortieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council, let's all give a cheer for the aggiornamento and its effects on Kansas City, shall we? A post is coming this weekend on that topic.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Real Lincoln

My post yesterday included a reference to the War Between the States (which, of course, wasn't a civil war, despite its most common designation). An appropriate time to recommend, for a short read, The Real Lincoln by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, which draws heavily from the academic work by David Donald, Lincoln Reconsidered (1961). DiLorenzo's book is pretty good, although it's written for a pretty general audience rather than a particuarly educated set. But it's a nice intro to the Lincoln you didn't learn about in school.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine

Here's a new church I got some photos of. I haven't done my homework in This Far by Faith yet, but I will. Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Kansas City's westside, was consolidated at some point with Sacred Heart church. The building is now a shrine, featuring one weekday Mass and one scheduled Rosary every week. I've never been inside, and I'm uncertain whether the Blessed Sacrament remains reserved here.

Without knowing more (such as whether this was an ethnic parish), I'd guess this is perhaps another case of overbuilding. The church (which is somewhat smaller than the other closed churches I've featured, appearing to maybe seat 500, from an outside look) is only three or four blocks from Sacred Heart. Why were two churches built so close together? What's the deal? I couldn't find a cornerstone. When was this built? When was it officially suppressed?

At some point, I'll do my homework and fill in details.


OK, I'm doing my homework: in 1910, the year the Mexican Revolution began (the one that lasted, basically, until 1928 or so, and that featured evil Masonic persecutions of the Church), a colony of refugees began forming on Kansas City's West Side, around 23rd and Madison. Among the poor, hungry immigrants were a few refugee priests who managed to avoid the firing squads. The people of nearby Sacred Heart Parish found out about the priests and got them before the Bishop in order have them granted faculties. As the revolutions and persecutions continued in Mexico, new waves of immigrants arrived, and in 1914 a parish was formed for them and a chapel was erected in a vacant house. Shortly thereafter, the parish moved to a vacant storeroom, and they began to plan and pray (mostly pray, as they didn't have any money to plan with) for a church.

In 1919, the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Emanuel church building at 23rd and Madison was put up for sale (the Lutheran ministers intended to follow the Swedes, who were moving to the Westport area). The church building and minister's house, which had been built for $100,000 and was listed at $65,000, was eventually purchased for $18,000 through the efforts of Dr. Thomas Purcell, the Sacred Heart parishioner who originally found the priests among the refugees.

Thus, in converse to what we've seen at Holy Name, Blessed Sacrament, Holy Trinity, and St. Francis Seraph, a church built by heretics was eventually taken over for Catholic use. The only changes to the building that were necessary were the removal of Martin Luther's mug from one stained glass window and the addition of an altar (which was donated by the Redemptorists). Other furnishings, and ongoing support, was given surrounding parishes and Catholic organizations.

In 1990, the consolidation of Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Guadalupe was ordered, and while Sacred Heart (which may have been wrecknovated, I'm not sure) was designated to be the site of the consolidated parish. Our Lady of Guadalupe remains open as a shrine.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ah, the smugness of the academic left!

As you Kansas Citians may know, the moron Religious Studies professor at KU, Paul Mirecki, who caused a stink by planning a class (since cancelled) for the purposes of mocking Intelligent Design theories and the Christian worldview in general, went and got himself beat up. Here's the article from the Dec 6 Lawrence Journal-World. Ian at Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus has an analysis of the situation that is, in certain respects, pretty solid. Ian posits that it might have been staged by the clown in an effort to get martyr status among his fellow nihilists. Take a look.

The incident prompted a conversation today between Curmudgeon and a Gray-haired Fellow from Another Department (GFAD) that went something like this:

GFAD: But you saw about that KU professor didn't you?
Curm: Maybe, which one? wha'd'e do?
GFAD: You know that fellow that was going to teach the course on evolution, and sent out all those emails--which he probably shouldn'a done--him. You know. He got beat up the other day.
Curm: Well it just goes to show that not all us Christians are pacifists, eh?
GFAD: It's like America's Taliban, the religious right. There's going to be a civil war, you know!
Curm: Ya think so? About time . . . one suits me. The last one didn't turn out the right way, and that's why the country's in the mess it's in today.
GFAD: What? Well, it's pretty outrageous people beating a guy up over that.
Curm: [missing his opportunity to advocate the rack and the stake] I dunno. I mean,
it's hard to get too upset about that sort of thing. After all, that's how the left has operated at least since the sixties. Guys like that don't have much of a claim to be treated with any sort civility.

GFAD: But beating people up? They don't do that. When?
Curm: Well, I can't think of an example off the top of my head, you caught me off guard. But the left uses force or the threat of it all the time. Abortionists and the NARAL crowd are wrecking pro-life people with frivilous RICO lawsuits and stuff.
GFAD: Well, if they're intimidating people that's fine.
Curm: [missing another opportunity] Well, I don't think it's intimidating the die-hards; they're still protesting. Oh, the you're talking about the protesters, not the abortionists. I think you've got that backwards.
GFAD: Oh boy, we need to talk to you. Who else?
Curm: Well, for instance, do you know why the American Psychological Association declassified homosexuality as a psychological disorder?
GFAD: You're not telling me you think it's a disorder! People are born with it.
Curm: Well, of course it's a disorder, whether people are born with it or not. People are born with all kinds of weaknesses and disordered inclinations. I know I've got my share--although I don't struggle with same sex attraction, of course. I hope you don't buy into that Kinsey 10% garbage. It's not based on scientific method. Which brings me to my point. The APA dropped homosexuality from the DSM not because it had any scientific reason to, but because militant homosexual activists hounded them through the late 1960s (and the 1970s, I think), harrassing the people in charge of the DSM, disrupting their classes, their practices, and their speeches. The APA was bullied into dropping it for political reasons, not science.
GFAD: [signalling retreat] You really think that? Wow. We have to talk to you.
And so it ended, without my getting to use some of the best lines I keep in my pocket: "I don't let the NPR people do my thinking--or my feeling--for me" and "Well, considering the rate at which people like me are breeding and the rate at which people like you are contracepting and aborting, my views will soon prevail based on demographics alone, right or wrong."

It's so much fun (and I've relayed this in a previous post, I think) to just play along with these guys and to treat their views with the same skepticism they treat yours. It really takes them by surprise when they come across younger, similarly educated people in the same line of work as them who don't subscribe to the conventional wisdom. Once you go into a detailed defense of your views in these water-cooler conversations, you lose. You can almost hear the NPR Morning Edition fanfare (Dah-dah-dah-dah . . . Dah-dah-dah-dah) as they write you off and their minds shift to the next little 2-minute artfully produced water-cooler vignette about the goofball art they've installed across from Barney Allis Plaza in KC (much like the serious review of a new album by some clown playing an underwater digital saxophone you'd here on NPR). BUT, if you start questioning their views, pretending that yours are the conventional wisdom (easy to do if you don't watch TV and or follow current events very closely), they usually don't know what to say.

I once had a conversation with another gray-hair from another department, this time at an Indian restaurant buffet in Johnson County, in which I said the only person I personally knew in the legislature was Kansas Senator Kay O'Connor. The GFAD said, "Oh, you must be a conservative Republican," to which I responded that I hadn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since George Bush #1 in 1992 (which I regretted), and that I wasn't a conservative. When he challenged me on whether I was a conservative, I said I was a reactionary, not a conservative, because I didn't see anything in the political or cultural status quo worth conserving. The fellow almost dropped his plate of curried chicken, laughed nervously, and started talking about a business client of his.

So my thought is that (with minor adaptations for persons and circumstances) that we all quit engaging the progressive/liberal/radical Jacobins in our midst in any substantive way, and we do what our parents did to us when we were 13 or 14 years old and started repeating some of the political and cultural nonsense we picked up in junior high school. We, in a tone of feigned naivete, ask things like "What on earth do you mean?" and "Where did you come up with that idea?" and put them on defense. If my fellow evil trads need advice on this, I'd suggest they go up north and take lessons from Hilary, who would seem to manage the technique well.

Only in rare circumstances are you likely to get caught with someone who can trace their views pack to Jeremy Bentham or Jean-Jacques Rousseau or whatever particular high-on-cocaine-snuff enlightenment theorist that first expounded them, or someone who can go on-and-on about John Dewey's principles of pragmatism. Usually, the best authority they can come up with is "it's obvious" or "they say" or something they heard on NPR or read in a New York Times Book Review or a Molly Ivins column.

Really, in situations like this, where you're having a couple of minutes of casual conversation with someone, they're not going to actually listen to and remember your views, even if you're more prepared than I usually am to expound them concisely. Whatever you say, they file it under "right wing crank." So why not turn the tables on them? It may be more effective to impress upon them the fact that the opposite view can be held just as smugly and certainly as their own, by someone so sure of its rectitude that he feels no need to defend it and is shocked that anyone could hold the conventional view. THAT might actually get them thinking.

Does any of this make sense?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Week's Catholic Key

I received my Catholic Key for December 2, 2005 on Friday. Wouldn't you know it, a diocesan newspaper "buries" big news from the Vatican, the new instruction on homosexuality in seminary applicants, on pages 12-14. Front page is a picture of hungry heathen children and an article on "Catholic" Relief Services work in Pakistan following their earthquake. Naturally, the article is on the response of "nongovernmental" organizations, begging government funding.

Hey folks, if it's tax money you're asking for and spending, it was taken by force or the threat of force, not given. In that case, you may be doing "social justice," but YOU AIN'T DOIN' CHRISTIAN CHARITY!!!

Ahem, I've said it before. I'm sure I'll say it again. The Key still stinks. Other articles include:
  • Maryknollers (the lefty nuns who've, of course, kicked the habit) still mourning the death of their sisters who were murdered (presumably while meddling and peddling for the Sandinistas) in El Salvador in 1980.
  • Two more articles on "Catholic" Relief Services work in Pakistan.
  • An article mourning the fact that health care hasn't been federalized 60 years after Truman first proposed that Big-Brother take it over.
  • Two articles against the death penalty, one of which is by some clown trying to confuse people with "Pro-life must include protecting poor, opposing war,"
  • An articles on antiwar protests at Ft. Benning,
  • The usual movie reviews from the USCCB film office. Naturally, the film version of Rent, was not rated "O-morally offensive." It was rated "limited adult audience," and Bernadin's boys on the USCCB staff buried any sodomy judgment in a subjective clause in the middle of the review: "while the dissolute lifestyles of some of the characters take second place to the overriding themes of love, connection and fellowship."
  • The bishop's column on stem cell research.

In other Key news, it was relayed to me by a friend of a friend that Albert deZutter, the editor, complained in a published interview with an academic journalist studying the Catholic diocesan press that his publisher, Bishop Finn, is somehow censoring him, because he reviews deZutter's editorials before they run and corrects them to conform to Catholic teaching (and deZutter is apparently refusing to run the corrected editorials). (If you can point me to that published interview, please do). It's obvious that a publisher's control of the contents of his own publication isn't "censorship," of course, but claiming that it is censorship is effective, because so many people are too stupid to see that.

The friend-of-a-friend posed for a luncheon discussion, the questions "why is deZutter doing this?", and "why is Finn tolerating it?" There are several possible answers for the first point--mine is simply that deZutter's a dissident doing the devil's work. My theory is that he's holding out with Finn until he finally gets fired, which will impress Satan's little helpers in the "progressive Catholic" press, and help him get his next job. It's as good as any other. The second question, "why is Finn tolerating it?", is a tougher one. I don't know. The Bishop's done a number of things right--replacing the key chancery staff, holding the Corpus Christi procession, ditching McBrien, unplugging the "New WHine" program. Why won't he take decisive action here? Maybe he has something bigger up his sleeve, like abolishing the Key entirely, in which case it doesn't make sense to replace the editor right now.

A world without the Catholic Key? Wouldn't that be great?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Source on my closed church "project."

I found a source for information on closed churches. The Kansas City Public Library has This Far by Faith, a two volume book on the Diocese of Kansas City, St. Joseph, the second volume of which is a compilation of parish histories. Unfortunately, they've only got one copy and it doesn't circulate, so I'll have to find some time to spend there. Hopefully, I'll be able to go back to the parish churches I've already featured and get some details, as well as perhaps identify some additional churches that have been supressed, demolished, etc.