Tag Archives: Catholicism

Monsignor Richard Von Phul Mouton, Obituary Post

Monsignor Richard von Phul Mouton of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette passed away Wednesday. He was 86 years old. The press has remembered him already and so have many of the institutions with which he was associated. His official obituary in the Daily Advertiser is here. More or less the same obituary appeared in other papers. I attended only the wake for complicated reasons but expect the funeral to be a grand and deserved tribute.

Mouton died at 2:21 p.m. Wednesday at Lafayette General Medical Center among those attending to his last illness was his brother, Frank Anthony Mouton. He is preceded in death by his father, Scranton Alfred Mouton, Sr., mother, Inez Genevieve von Phul Mouton, brother, Scranton Alfred Mouton, Jr., and sister-in-law, Margaret Apple Mouton. He is survived by his brothers, Frank Anthony Mouton and Marc Gilbert Mouton, Sr., sister-in-law Betty LaCour Mouton, and numerous nieces and nephews.  The Mouton family is a prominent family in the region and Alfred Mouton, at least for now, still occupies a central place on a statue in the center of Monsignor’s hometown. The Mouton House is a museum not far from the Cathedral  where Monsignor lived out much of his last phase of life since July 1, 2007, Monsignor took up residence as a Senior Priest at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. This nearby Mouton house seems small compared to other Plantation owners homes in the South but this  was the town house (not the larger country home) where  Governor and General Mouton — father and son– stayed over to attend mass at the nearby St. John’s  Church in Antebellum Lafayette.  The Mouton connections among Acadians (such as the governor and the General) and the non Acadian French are indeed extensive. Monsignor Mouton was very aware of his heritage though not one to harp on it with people who were not aware of it.

Richard Mouton was born on March 17, 1931 in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was baptized on March 25 of the same year at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, where he would later attend  the Cathedral primary school and receive the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation. He was ordained at this same Cathedral on June 4, 1955 and assigned as Associate Pastor of St. Mary Magdalene Church in Abbeville –which has always been my real home parish where I was baptized, made my first communion and was wed — but Monsignor did not officiate at any of those sacraments and was not pastor there in any of those years.  I did not know him as Associate pastor.

When I met him he was the intellectually mature Pastor of the Parish who had returned from completing his doctoral degree in Rome. His doctoral thesis was entitled “The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Mass,” Father Mouton returned to Louisiana and was assigned to Immaculate Conception Parish in Lake Charles, the current Bishop of Lake Charles Glen Provost was one of his Associate Pastors at St. Mary Magdalen in Abbeville and they distinguished themselves as a team with their deep love of the liturgy. Monsignor had also gotten an international status as a priest before he was pastor — this was because in 1962,  he attended the Second Vatican Council, in the company of Bishop Maurice Shexnayder, and was subsequently appointed Peritus Concilii Vaticani Secundi (Expert of the Second Vatican Council). Still before I met him and when I was in fact two years old, In June 1966, Father Mouton was elevated to Monsignor Mouton. Like Monsignor Ignatius A. Martin with whom I lived in Duson and who had a major role to play in my parents return to the faith of their youth when he was a  Pastor at St. Mary Magdalene — Monsignor Mouton would also serve as Superintendent of Catholic Schools from June 1967 to the time he received his first assignment as Pastor at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Abbeville in 1973. It was during that period that I got to know him. Many people knew Msgr. Richard Van Phul Mouton better than I but nobody knew him exactly as I did. His official obituary did not mention founding the Christian Service Center in Abbeville, the work he did with liturgy in parish life, hosting the Lay Evangelist Training and Commissioning Program for the Diocese of Lafayette or his significant involvement with the Fr. Conley Bertrand’s Come Lord Jesus program, the ground work and development of the Catholic is the Name Weekends, fostering Perpetual Adoration, or any of the other ways in which our paths crossed most publicly. He also officiated at my great grandmother’s funeral where I read one of the readings and based on that encounter he asked me to serve as lector which I did most of the time when I was in country and he was pastor was it was my turn. Many of the friends of my youth had him as a teacher at VCHS, they told me. I never did. But despite eating hundreds of meals with priests, I was somehow closer to Monsignor than all but a tiny few. It is odd, I suppose. But my real connections were more personal and complicated, he twice asked me to enter the seminary and I twice regretfully declined — that was a long time ago, before I was married. I considered the priesthood at other times but really at those particular times I felt certain that I could not seriously pursue that option. Monsignor was also my confessor and spiritual director for some but not all of that time, I found him an insightful and serious man with whom anything could be discussed.

In February 1987, Monsignor Mouton was assigned as Pastor of St. Pius X Church in Lafayette in a an unusual swap with Fr. Donald Theriot who was the celebrant at my wedding.  Theriot came to St. Mary Magdalene from Pius X. During his time as Pastor, Monsignor participated in the development of various pastoral ministries, most notably the development of St. Thomas More Catholic High School and the founding of St. Pius X Elementary School.  I would later teach at St. Thomas More High School of which St. Pius is a Corporate Parish and would move there during my year of teaching and then away to Baton Rouge to pursue my M.A. but my parents would move there with my younger siblings and  he would remain their pastor and he would be someone I had much occasion to see. When I was teaching at St. Thomas More High School we did have some interactions. Mostly those related to crises in the school administration at a school which is normally stable but was having an unstable year. STM was in the official obituary whereas virtually nothing from Abbeville  was in it except merely his pastorate. However, it is not a matter of question that St. Pius Elementary School there is one of his greatest achievements.  He saw Catholic education as a key part of preserving the Faith and the right kind of Christian intellectual development. But he was a Ragin’ Cajun as well and continued his studies at the local secular university and not only at St. Joseph’s Seminary and the Pontifical College. He saw the light of Divine Truth in all learning, although I don’t have the particular courses at hand I am pretty sure that I remember that. He lived a faith in his time.  To quote the official obituary:

If the loss of faith is a life’s greatest tragedy, then surely its preservation is a life’s greatest triumph; Monsignor Mouton was certainly a great guardian of the Church and preserved Her teachings through his ministry to the many who loved him. 

“I value the priesthood I have been graced to share in…I have happily done what I was asked to do by my Bishop, ministering to his flock, hopefully, with zeal and charity. God knows and I praise Him for the graces I believe He gave me in doing so. All the good I have done I have truly done by the grace of God.”

Monsignor Richard von Phul Mouton

By the Grace of God

Beyond those public ministries, going back to the family comments made at the start, Monsignor was a full and thorough example of commitment to the priesthood but he was also a man with all the connections of a man of a particular, place time and lineage.  Msgr. Mouton had a circle of not very close friends with some common regional interests and I helped people a few times with translations of Heraldic and ancestral documents because they met me when I was discussing such things with this son of Acadiana. He also had great capacity for saying a lot in a few words about places he’d been. I have probably traveled with a hundreds priests, some bishops and a few cardinals — I never remember being in the same vehicle with Monsignor. We were at many receptions together over my lifetime but only shared a meal at table perhaps four times.

Monsignor knew many challenges in life. One of them was a bit vicarious. One of his closest friends in life was also ordained Jun. 04, 1955   and Msgr. H.A. Larroque was the brilliant Canon Lawyer with whom he could discuss many ideas and concerns. Before the explosion of the child abuse crisis Monsignor had (hard as this will be for many to believe) discussed with me his concerns about safe environment issues and the need to do more in preventing problems related to sexual behavior through priestly formation. But the conversations were related to our discussions about my concerns with some seminary environments I had encountered in the world. I had no idea he was dealing with real problems among priests close at hand and not as effectively as he probably should have and felt he should have. His really good friend was caught up in dealing with religious and secular legal matters, world wide media scrutiny and countless other moral issues and it was an ordeal. With me Monsignor never pretended he or his very close friend had perfect answers to any of these crises. I was proud of the fact that the Church paid huge damage awards, sponsored programs, organized safe environment training, struggled to weather the storm and did lots of other things. I often said that while I excused nothing of the worst abuses the Church paid mostly the price of being a responsible and enduring institution in the society of shirking, dissolution and changing  names which characterizes the modern world.    But truthfully the child abuse  scandals did change something about our conversations.

Monsignor and I were both strong personalities, he was clearly the more successful of the two and much older but we held very little back in our really private conversation although they were ALWAYS  cordial they could be both heated and cordial intense and measured. During my later life we corresponded almost entirely about grave and confidential matters and enjoyed only a few brief friendly conversations. Virtually none were related to child abuse or other issues that make a lot of ink. But they were issues we both took seriously.

I considered him a great man and a good priest. Sometimes, I considered him a fairly close friend. That’s not something I find as easy to explain. I lived with Msgr. Ignatius Martin and was a close companion of a Jesuit Missionary priest named Joseph Stoffel in the Philippines. Both were friends and I knew them in more ordinary friendly ways. But Msgr. Mouton and I had some common concerns that I shared with few other people over my lifetime. We didn’t always agree. But the void he leaves cannot be filled by anyone else I know. Life has taken many turns since the days since Monsignor Mouton and I knew each other best.
I have usually posted a kind of obituary on my blog for prominent people who were also significant in my life and I am doing that again for Msgr. Mouton. For as long as the blog exists it helps me organize these memories. People have often revisited these blog entries over the years, so someone else gets something out of it as well. But Monsignor is not likely to slip my mind often for very long.

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Feast of the Assumption: National Day of the Acadians

Today is for Roman Catholics the Feast of the Assumption.  Today is the National Day of the Acadians. those of us who are both would like those in the Acadian Nation who are Jewish, Protestant, (even Anglican though today is an awkward day to be both), Freemasons with no other formal religion and adherents of other faith to join what is still the (not so large) Roman Catholic majority and not merely plurality of their countrymen in celebrating the Le Jour National des Acadiens. We also wish those Catholics who are not Acadians but live among large numbers of us would remember this is a dual holiday for us. It is a sad kind of National Holiday. We do remember all that we are but we are not principally celebrating the founding of Acadie by our ancestors which has become Nova Scotia. We are not primarily remembering the founding of the Novelle Acadie in Louisiana which has become Acadiana. We are primarily remembering the tragedy, time of weakness (relative to an old and established empire in its homeland) , loss and death which is the destruction of the land of Acadie and the start of Le Grand Derangement.  This holday has roots in the past since the Acdians were French subjects and as the first came to the new World the King of France had just designated the feast as the special day of France and the Fench. In 1881 there was the first large publisc and open convention of the Acadians since the exile itself in which a few thousand gathered for real national policy and it was at that time that they declared the holiday a national feast. The reason cited by some knowledgeable sources is in part to distinguish them form the Freanch Canandians who honored St. John the Baptist as their patron. You will see that I think the truth is more complex but the tie to the French synthesis they left behind is vital enough. We are remembering that we are a people and have a past and future in the face of great suffering. Here are some Acadian links in this site itself:

1. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/acadian-forum-archive/glossary-of-terms-casually-defined/

2. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/acadian-forum-archive/

3. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/well-see-if-bps-viking-shows-his-horns/

4. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/after-an-american-revolution-the-royalist-portion-of-the-empire/

5. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/images/photographs-in-vermilion-parish/photographs-reproducing-mommees-paintings-1/

There are many more than these posts and pages which reference Acadian ethnicity and the Acadians in some way.  I hope that this set of links will help the reader to find more than they planned on in the time devoted to one post. Then there is the other side of the Holiday. Acadians celebrate the Feast of the Assumption as their National Day partly because it falls during the days when the first flotilla of surviving exiles were all at sea. Having watched the destruction of Acadie largely in the form of dying frail relatives and the plumes of smoke from farms and churches near the coast.   But Acadians also choose it because it is a holiday that has entered the Universal calendar of the Catholic Church as a Solemnity in this modern era in which they experienced this loss. They also honor it because it is a feminine holiday in a Christianity which has sold out to a largely woman-hating world in much of the modern era. While some parts of the world were more anti-feminist in the past and some are eager to bring that back — the feminine  half of things was prized in much of Ancient Greece, Byzantine Christianity, High Medieval France and Acadie. Acadians can remember that we stand with that always developing tradition and against its destruction. In 1938 the Pope officially recognized the Acadian celebration of the Feast of the Assumption as their national holiday. He also entrusted them to the special patronage of Our Lady that this recognizes. 

Of course the Assumption itself actually celebrates the raising of the body of Mary into Heaven to join her believers spirit. this is very hard for Protestant, Jewish or Skeptic Acadians to relate to one would think. First let us think about the celebration in Biblical terms of interest to Protestants and Jews. The Bible talks of Enoch and Elijah being taken up into heaven and so it is not without precedent in the Jewish Scriptures.  For Protestants remember that in addition to these two Old Testament precedent we have what can be taken as the prophecy of Mary in the Canticle Catholics call the Magnificat .

And  Mary said.

My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely , from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done Great things for me, and  holy is his name…

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones

and lifted up the lowly.”

Luke 1:46-49, 56

Depending upon one’s hermeneutic the whole canticle is even more of a prophecy of such an event as this one or it is not such a prophecy at all. But there is a case which can be made.

For the true skeptic especially in modern times the whole thing is indeed pretty alien but remember if you possibly can, how very much you take on faith from poorly reported science that is constantly changing. There are different kinds of faith, some see this holy event and others out of ordinary experience as primarily symbolic and having a great deal to say about womanhood, queen mothers, suffering mothers who lose sons, the human body, death and other things without really thinking of any event.  Others have a more earthy and integrated faith. The point is that sadly while your skepticism is poorer than religion in artistic light and shadow I am afraid theat I cannot grant you status as having a more rational faith experience — that has not been my experience so far. I do have lots of experience with skeptics.

I wish everyone a happy Feast of the Assumption and National Day of the Acadians. Life is marked by holidays in important ways. 

A Really Personal Blog Post. 50 Random Things About Me

1. I went to school in some very real sense at each of the following institutions: Happy Howards Nursery School, a kindergarten in London, Mount Carmel Elementary School in Abbeville, Louisiana and St. Hilda and St. Hugh Episcopal Day School in Manhattan. I also attended Tonga Side School and the Lord’s School in Our Lady’s Youth Center before returning to MCES. I attended the Instituto de Estudios America Latina in Cuernavaca, Viard College in Porirua, Scripture Ventures and the East Asian Pastoral Intitute.  I completed the Lay Evangelists course for the Diocese of Lafayette.  I count my brief participation in a short Introduction to Visayan Seminar at Bukidnon State College. I have a B.A. from USL, now the University of Louisiana where I was the Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate for my commencement. I attended the Franciscan university of Steubenville where I won the Sophomore Class Award ( they used to award one to a male and one to a female but both called “the award” of Sophomore Class Award) I completed the Catechist Certification Course for the Diocese of Lafayette.  I have an M.A. from Louisiana State University. I twice enrolled at Tulane Law School.  I completed a course at the Insurance Training School of Louisiana.  I have also attended many lectures and seminars not part of the schooling listed above.

2. I have three sisters Sarah, Mary and Susanna.

3. I have three full brothers Joseph, John Paul and Simon.

4. I have a deceased special situation half-brother named Paul.

5. I have in my life fired  12 gauge, 16 gauge, 20 gauge,  and 4-10 shotguns. I have fired 45 caliber, nine milimeter, 22 caliber and several other pistols. I have also fired M-16, AR-14, Kalashnikov and other automatic and semi-automatic weapon. In addition I have fired a reasonable number of rounds in sporting and hunting rifles.

6.  I have been interviewed for television in the USA, China, Mexico and the Philippines.

7. I have suffered the loss to death or displacement of animals I cared about including: horses, dogs, cats, goldfish, turtles, a rabbit, a hornbill bird and poultry.

8. I have hunted and killed ducks, geese, deer, rabbits, racoons, aligators, wild pig, snakes and other game.

9. I have been on the water in foot-powered paddle wheelers, canoes, pirogues, rafts, catamarans, outrigger canoes, steam-powered paddle wheelers, the QE2, the France and other ships as well as many small skiffs, sailboats and  rafts.

10. I have set foot on Europe, Asia,  North America, South America and Australia  and many islands.

11. I have never set foot on Africa or Antartica.

12. I have ridden motorcycles quite a bit but never had a license.

13. I have driven  cars only in North America and on some islands.

14. I was confirmed a Roman Catholic at the hands of a Cardinal of our Church.

15.  I was baptized, received my First Communion and was wed at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church. 

16. I have caught over a dozen species of fish.

17.   I spent a lot of time observing and studying bats (the animal) long ago.

18.  I have bought meals for more women or girls than I have held hands with, held hands with more than I have kissed, kissed more than I have cuddled with and the lines continue in that direection.

19.  I have enjoyed gambling in the form of poker, blackjack, lottery, slots, pool, darts and many other games. Most weeks I do not gamble at all.

20. I have been in love with more than one woman at a time more than once.

21. I have traveled to and from the USA to China and the the USA to the Philippines alone.

22. I have been bitten by a poisonous snake, horses, dogs, cats, angry men and curious babies.

23. I have been stung by wasps, centipedes. bees, hornets, jellifish, spiders and exotic fish.

24. I have at least spent the night and a day in New Orleans, Mexico City, New York, Tijuana, Los Angeles, Beijing, Hong Kong,Yantai,  Manila, Bogota, London, Paris, Rome, San Francisco,  Monterrey, San Diego, Montreal and many other big cities  but think of myself as mostly a small town and countryside guy.

25. I have owned over one hundred knives besides kitchen knives.

26. I am an FCC licensed radiotelephone operator.

27. In my life time I have at least participated to some degree in basketball, football, soccer, rugby, swimmin, water polo, sailing, boating  of many kinds, horseback riding, snow skiing, karate, Tae Kwan Do, Kung Fu, canoeing, fishing, hiking, cycling, weight lifting, calisthenics, putt-putt golf, bowling, horseshoes and ping pong.

28. I have never played a single game of golf.

29. I smoked tobacco in cigars, cigarettes and pipes.

30. I have fasted on water only for more than nine days several times.

31. I have stayed awake for more than 48 hours continuously.

32. I have driven a car over 115 miles an hour several times.

33. I have fought more than thee opponents at the same time more than a few times.

34. I have read over 1,000 books.

35. I have read the Bible in its entirety several times.

36. I have spoken to groups more than a thousand times.

37. I have been to more funerals than weddings.

38. I do not think most people are very good. I do think that the humanity all people share has great goodness in it.

39. I have had my appendix removed.

40. I have not had my tonsils removed.

41. I really like trains and have ridden many.

42. I consider Philip Norton, Baron of Louth a friend although we have never met or spoken and our correspondence has been topical rather than personal  — and even though I do not feel it fair to him to call him a friend under such limits.

43. I have quite few regrets in my life.

44. I have never dyed my hair with a permanent dye.

45. I have visited quite a few prisons.

46.  I drove a “hot-shot” truck service at one time.

47. I have published writing on football, baseball, soccer, drag racing, basketball and other sports.

48.  I watched the second tower get hit on TV live on 9-11.

49. I have toured the Forbidden City and the Temple of  Heaven in Beijing. I also toured Penglai and  other ancient sites.

50.  I love US National Parks.

Another Collection and Composite Blog Post

Having avoided just using this blog for brief bulleted points on personal and mainstream news for the majority of its brief tenure I find that I am doing exactly that again after doing a “round-up, jambalaya and potpourri” only a few days ago. So here are a mix of personal news tidbits, my own views on some mainstream news stories and other miscellaneous tidbits of fact and information. Numbered items in no real order other than numerical are:

1. The Pope and Bishop of Rome has opened the door to the Catholic Church to those catholic Christians of the Anglican Communion. He has stopped short of creating an Anglican rite of the Catholic Church but he has stated that he will allow congregations to exist to be structured under their own discipline and use largely their existing liturgies. He has stated that although most ancient communions do not allow married men to become bishops and therefore they may not be able to practice their existing or hoped for episcopacy he will recognize the exercise of discipline by senior prelates. I did not get all this from  the official Vatican website but if it is all true it is almost exactly what I would consider the very best possible pastoral decision. I was never a fan of Cardinal Jozef Ratzinger but Pope Benedict the XVI is making another extraordinarily good decision which shows that he really is capable of greatness and is in fact great in his own way.  God Bless him. There are a few less obvious points to make:

GOOD

i. In America and other places where there are few Eastern Orthodox and Uniate Churches it will educate people a great deal about Church structure to see this in action if it can occur.

ii. It cannot help to make people in the Anglican Communion feel that Roman Catholics value their faith experience and faith communion.

PROBLEMATIC  

i. The Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury and a number of others may feel that the Vatican is “sheep stealing” and this could become an obstacle to further unity and reconciliation.

ii. This will have the possible effect of obscuring the royalist aspect of Christian Tradition which (while I believe it is wrongly distorted and in one way overdrawn) is best preserved in Anglican tradition and is not so secure in Roman Catholicism but is very much one of two parts most at the heart of the historical Christ experience and phenomena on which all Churches and THE CHURCH must rest and abide.

Nonetheless, despite those who must be hurt and despite the imperfections of all real actions to do anything — This is a great day. If this is effected it will open the doors to futures which are being horribly cut-off from the Christian people. I wish everyone involved the best.

2. I went back to the University of Louisiana and bought a ticket and a spirit shirt as well as picking up a copy of my brother John Paul’s graduation year yearbook. I am a little excited about the Homecoming Game Saturday and will be hoping for an easy trip there and back, a good game and a fitting celebration.

3. My brother Joseph killed the first buck of his life here at Big Woods two days ago. He has killed a legal doe on a hunt before but not a buck. He killed and slaughtered it and his fiancee  Brooke supervised the cooking and we all had delicious healthy tenderloin for lunch on Monday. There was of course a lot of meat left and that will feed various family members healthy, lean and tasty meat for a while (and probably some of his friends as well).

4. On the Lords of the Blog I was involved in dialog with New Zealanders that both brings back old memories and is leading to unusual places.

http://lordsoftheblog.net/2009/10/18/another-parliamentary-blog/

http://lordsoftheblog.net/2009/10/21/welcome-to-our-new-zealand-readers/

I have not had much to do with New Zealand since I lived there at seventeen.

5. The Phillies have achieved one of those really great sports achievements. They are truly defending World Series Champions in the way that term is seldom merited.

6. The movie Amelia has come out and though I have not seen it myself I am eager to see it. Amelia Earhart is one of those figures who really does a great deal to define American culture in the twentieth century. She did it not by leading a movement but by being influential although not typical or ordinary.

7.  I have found out that despite winning the first prize for market viability, the people’s choice award and building one of few or no other hurricane resistant homes in the solar decathlon the UL Team BeauSoleil finished near the bottom in the standings overall. I am clearly biased but cannot help but feel that this just one of billions of pieces of evidences that our world is careening out of control and is focused on glorifying the truly useless in such a way that it affects even good efforts like the Solar Decathlon.

Society, Mental Health and Relationships

I think we have quite a few people who voted for Barak Hussein Obama because they were very upset. I think that we have a lot of people yelling at town hall meetings because they are very upset. These two groups of people also wanted to change things but they are certainly upset and the emotional baggage is just as important as the ideas andvalues that they would like to see expressed.

We also live in a world where increasingly large numbers of people take medicines to relieve symptoms of emotional discomfort if they have access to them. I do not object to people taking medicines that relieve emotional symptoms and I also am able to accept the expression of emotion in politics.  However, I think we as a human race have a need for emotional bonding in communities and families. I think we have a need to be able to call on emotional reserves to sacrifice in our striving for greatness in may challenges we face. Sadly but certainly peoples and nations need to have healthy agressive emotions to fight for their defense, integrity and survival.

Because I think that all these energies are important I cannot accept the idea that emotional states are sort of irelevant. Nor do I think that people should be governed simply and purely by their emotions. So as I think about all this I return to a post from last summer. It reminds me that emotional health can be seen as part of a larger social architecture.  

The following post was originaly posted on my page on Facebook on July 12, 2008.

Most of all my life I have had the sense that “things” were generally very bad. I have usually felt that that there was a sort of waking nightmare that had taken over the world. There is no doubt that I also had many dreams come true and many moments of joy. But I was forced to confront both the possibility that I was defectively attuned to bad things going on and also the possibility that the overall tone of things on Earth in my time was not very good.

At a very basic level, there have been many people in human history who have had worse days and seasons than most people reading this note will be having on the day that they first read it. That is almost guaranteed to be true. However, the overall tone of things can be bleak and unpromising and that could still be true.

Let us consider all the things that have been developed to help people make it through the challenge of relating to one another. Obviously we cannot really examine a significant percentage of those methods used for working things out in all cultures throughout the world. Instead we will consider a representative sample of half a dozen technologies for coping with and resolving interpersonal stress.

Lets discuss:
1. Jesus’s directions for dealing with conflict in the Church.
2.Dueling
3. The pracitce of Penance as it existed in the medieval Catholic Church.
4. Freudian Psychoanalysis.
5. That body of disciplines known as Wu Shu, Kung Fu and Tai Chi Chuan.
6. Carnival, Mardi Gras and festivals generally.

While we discuss these six topics in a ridiculously brief note we will also look at some of the other issues and institutions that impinge on our discussion. A sort of main point will be that getting along with other people is a challenge that has often commanded very serious attention. A certain tone of casual informality can be as freakishly wierd as anything else humans have ever done.

1. Jesus’s words are distinctly out of sync with the unbalanced teaching on forgiveness which has dominated much Christian preaching for a long time. In Matthew 18:15-19 is a teaching which is quite in accord with the teaching of Christ Jesus elsewhere during his ministry. The steps are roughly outlined below:
First someone in the church must sin against you. Then you must notice it and decide to act. Then you must confront the Christian privately face-to-face. The person must refuse the remedy you see as just. Then you must select two Christian witnesses (who have also heard a correct doctrine of patience and forgiveness) and tbey must agree to go with you to the offender. Then the three of you must confront the offender. Then the offender must reject the remedy you see as just. Then you as the offended Christian must bring the case before the Church and if the church finds against the offender and he refuses to do the just thing then they shall excommunicate that Christian. This is a very active, formal process which has almost nothing to do with just struggling to internally bear with slings and missiles of outrageous fortune. Forgiveness makes things better because it comes when they are better. Many will not forgive when amends are made, Christians must do so. Very slim evidence in recognized serious Christian thought or Holy Scripture supports a general teaching of the kind of unilateral forgiveness that is preached as the remedy for everything.

2. Skipping right ahead and out of context, there was a vast institution of dueling which made up an enormous force in shaping polite society throughout many countries and during many centuries. Dueling was very common in Louisiana up until the end of the War Between the States, or the the Civil War or the War for Southern Independence or the War of Northern Agression. This custom made it possible for men with large egos and refined sensibilities to get along despite all the evils of a given time and place. It certainly allowed for evils of its own but at its best it was far from a license for wide open bloodletting on a wholesale basis. Some say that in late antebellum Louisiana on in 400 challenges resulted in a homicide. Lots of steps — published challenges, choice of seconds, interviews between seconds, choice of grounds, time and weapons and the hiring of an attending physisican — stood between potentialy mortal offense and mortality. Abolishing duelling has not stopped people killing eachother but it has eliminated a huge and complex infrastructure for working out grievances.

3. While the pracitice of reconciliation as a modern Catholic Christian rite is rooted in our secttion on Jesus’s practice for resolving dispute, and in apostolic words related the “mysterion”, “semaeion” of healing the sickand praying for their healing in the Middle Ages of Europe Penance reached a kind of apogee. It was tied to a culture that understood the Doctrine of the Two Swords. It was tied to well-defined and developed practices of Exorcism and Interdict and it was tied to the rich culture of pilgrimage of which Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales gives us some idea. It was also tied to all the glory, horror and productive dialog of the Crusader and Jihadi. The energy of this vast complex of institutions lagely came from the fact of humans taking offense at the behavior of other humans and taking seriously the need to resolve the conflict and right the wrong.

4. A recent means for dealing with the injuries arising from civilization and its discontents is the psychoanalysis of Freud. This arose from the glorious last gasp of the Hapsburg Empire and its community of elite Jewish intellectuals. Psychoanalysis was often known as “the talking cure” in its early days. Whilre the Austrian, Austro-Hungarian and greater Hapsburg Empires knew many moments of glory in war, exploration, and invention they were a great power built more on diplomacy, marriage and legal procedure. While jews served in the armed forces and had guards they were the largest ethnic group without regimantal status in the Imperial military at any time. Perhaps it is natural that from them should have emerged a man who found talking things out to resolve internal conflict very important. But it must be remembered that Freud sought to free people to live a life more fully in the open and more expressively as themselves. Further his professional, therapeutic and literary edifice built on the sense of human injury was immense.

5. Leaping quickly elsewhere, we come to examine Wu Shu, Kung Fu and Tai Chi Chuan. Internal meditation,physical fitness, religious education, warrior training, and a basis for self-assertion have been developed into a single complex of disciplines in China. From China they have diseminated to the rest of North East Asia ,then evolved and expanded directly from China as well as from Japan and Korea. It seems that this whole complex of knowledge and skill falls neatly into the category of dealing w the interanl causes of conflict and the resolution of actual conflict. A vast amount of very productive effort is spent to gain or create self-mastery and then teach those with self-control to handle the conflicts which arise between them and others. Good health, balance, artistic motion, and deterrent against attack all belong to the practitioner of Kung Fu.

6. Humans have always sort of known that no matter what we do with our serious and formal efforts to organize ourselve and our societies the result will not be totally fair or entirely decent. Therefore wise societies find ways to combine inversion of normal rules and status norms with new kinds of commerce,uninhibited dancing and loosening of moral sensibilities. This behavior occurs at Mardi Gras, carnivals and Festivals. Many people in the modern world seldom experience one of these. Arguably few of us get a reasonable dose of these events. Therefore we live trapped in the full-time observation of our particular social absurdities. I actually am a sincere conservative who values the contribution of the community in Hollywood, New York,  Cinecitta, Ballywood and many other places who bring us carnival like experiences on discs, in film and on the airwaves. Nonetheless, There are values in the mixture of marketing products of hard work to visitors and religious prayer on the one hand with street dancing, sexual naughtiness and  spectacle on the other hand which will never be reproduced on artificial media. The movies and TV can help but festivals and carnivals really do some of the basic work of individual and community healing. Like all these listed techniques there are risks in this one that I may visit in another  post but I do think that this feature of life has real importance. 

What I would say is that lots of folks are miserable because the world they live in is really bad. they are miserable because people feel free to do great harm to them and others all their life without consequence. They are miserable because the means for dealing with problems make them worse and those in charge of normalcy are entirely nuts.

I think it is time for change bigger than most of us can dream of, I really do. But I do not think it likely that I will live to see it. I am not sure it will come at all, only sure that it is needed.

Women and Sexuality in some kind of context

This post first appeared in April of this year on Facebook I wrote all of those notes without any sources and have left them as written in almost every case where they are posted here. There are some errors in some posts and if they are caught I will try to figure out how best to show corrections…..
In one of Leon Tolstoy’s fantasticaly long and eloquent novels a smart young woman uncomfortable with her own sexual appeal says to another character, who is I believe a very self-assured Russian Prince, “Why do people have balls? Wouldn’t it be much more sensible if people simply spent the evening in conversation?” To which the Prince, who is an acomplished social dancer, replies “Infinitely more sensible and infinitely less like a ball.” A society that lives only in words and conversations does not live at all. Women and the way they appear to men is not primarily a subject to be debated. It is primarily the greatest engine and most pertinent mystery of human personality and society.

Tolstoy was a Christian, a dabbling Freemason, a bit of a socialist and an apologetic royalist. There have been many other humans of great intellect with deities like Pan, Aphrodite, Venus and a hundred others who were much more explicit in declaring the enormous importance of sex and the sexual recognition of women. When the founding fathers discussed the work of building the United States several key leaders including Jefferson wrote that the work of Population was one deserving time attention and resources. The American revolution was largely fought to allow the people of the United State a few centuries to breed and and build families and hope that over that time a better set of technologies would emerge to deal with high population density. Sex, family, courtship, childbirth, marraige and the like are of enormous importance to any sane public policy. All of these things especialy involve women as women.

I wrote a Facebook Note a while back on manhood.There are many reasons why such an undertaking was wiser, safer, more comfortable and easier than my current attempt to write a note about womanhood. Yet in this year of trying to get a basic smattering of my thoughts out into the world through Facebook Notes I would not have done very much of this at all unless I also included one of these rambling and personal essays in which the topic was womanhood. Womanhood is actually a topic which matters as much as any other possible topic in my opinion. However, the reasons for not writing an essay which is both wise and honest are numerous and powerful reasons. I can think of no more worthy challenge for my limited talents. I can think of few topics less likely to be personaly rewarding for me. However, this year’s (June 2008 through June 2009) Facebook Notes are a unique set of documents. I am trying to set out my thoughts more or less comprehensively in one venue. That will leave me free for whatever comes next in a certain way that I have not been before.

I will ramble among various perspectives and points of view in discussing this topic as I have with all the other notes in this series — or nearly all. However, I think I will start by discussing a few different aspects of sexuality and womanhood which may differentiate and distinguish the parameters of this discussion from almost any and perhaps from anyone else whom any reader may have read discussing this set of topics. I am more than a little confident that this is not the same essay one has read elsewhere. There is an originality in an early submarine even though boilers, sheet metal, rivets and propelors are old technology. When discussing the realm of the human condition an essay can be very original ev en when many component observations are commonly known. However, in the social sciences and humanities such originality is overlooked as it is in science very often. Engineering and math are the areas where patterns and combinations are likely to be recognized as original work if they are original work.

First, human females are truly shockingly extraordinary. They are not only very different from men they are different from other female earthlings. Women distinguish our species so enormously that it is simply inevitable magic. The combination of human extreme bipedalism (walking on two feet) and the shape of chidlbearing hips combine with prominent breasts to create a figure which is very extreme sexual dsiplay compared to men’s beards and very little else is so specifically developed as sexual flesh. This is somewhat different from our nearest biological relatives the apes. It is very distinct from the myriad examples of ducks, deer, chickens, lions, turkeys and other well known species where the male expresses the physical “come hither” material in the sexual dialog. In most species there is either no sexual dimorphism meaning there is asexual morphism — meaning males and females look mostly alike OR the male wears the plumage.

Having shown a major difference we are only geeting started. A heathy adult female can have coitus on any day at any period of that day. Most females are penetrable (in species like large animals which penterate) only infrquently and are fertile only on these realtively rare occasions. Healthy adult human females are fertile and infertile every month when they are not pregnant or lactating to supply a dependent nursing heavily. The variations between fertile and infertile periods within the month are not common to the whole species nor linked closely to the weather but vary from woman to woman. Further, there is very little physical difference between fertile and infertile women so that estrus is largely hidden. This is also a very limiting set of sexual characteristics which human famles share with few if any other females on Earth if taken as a whole.

To add another level of complexity to the totality of the factors in the paragraph above the human female fertility cycle matches the length of one of the most obvious cycles on earth that of the moon but is not tied to its periodicity. It generaly runs according to the woman’s own biology but does tie in and sychronize to some degree with women she lives with and is somewhat (but very subtly and eraticaly) related to sexual stimulus from men especialy in very young women.

Additional to all the other differences there is the difference between the baby dlivered by a woman and an adult human. That difference is called the “degree of neotony”. Almost no creature has a greater degree of neotony and when one combines this degree of neotony with the degree of involvement and care a young human will generaly accept and seek from its mother this creates a greaer demand and matched capacity for mothering per individual human than almost any other earthly species.

These are actually only a few of the reasons why women are objectively one of the most fascinating and compelling subjects to which one could apply the human mind. I actually believe that one of the greatest windows for insight into the state of well-being, progress and potential of any society is to look at women as women within that society.

Here is a woman functioning in Acadian or Germano-Acadian home ‘s kitchen and living room where she plays a vital role in social and economic development in the family and community. The painting is in turn painted by another woman, my great-great-grandmother Regina Oubre Hollier. Dhe is drawing from childhood memories for the composition.

There are a great number of things to learn if one wants to understand womanhood and perhaps in the modern age we are losing the last ties to many of them. Among the most influential men of my own lifetime a few of them have been distinguished in large part by something having to do with sex and womanhood. These include Karol Wotija/ Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Hugh Heffner, Bill Clinton, Prince Charles Arthur George Saxe-Coburg-Gotha- Battenburg-Lyons-Windsor (or whatever one chooses to call the current Prince of Wales) and John F. Kennedy. However, unlike many religious people what strikes me about the modern era is how sexles and lifeless it is not how we are all a bunch of sex maniacs. These men while very different from one another are perhaps more normal in that sex is a pulsing shaping force in their public biography. Most modern biographies are perhaps best described as freakishly wierd. Sex is not a side note to the decisions people make in public office. Sex is very much a part of a sane governance.

In a royalist or aristocratic high republican or a number of other regimes the family has a stature which can tie together the privacy of sex, affection and home with the qualities of a public institution.The modern era has largely abandoned this whole vast set of institutions and patterns which tie these huge parts of the world together.

The point of all this is not that women should have no meaning or existence outside of their role as sexual coun terparts to men and mothers to children. However, the point is to show thattheir is almost limitless capacity for development and discussion in that aspect both of women and of the idea of women. To know woman one must first renounce that kind of asexual androgyny which has had a great deal of credence and influence in the world of my lifetime. Men and women are profooundly different and that difference is vital, useful and profoundly energizing in a decent and healthy society.

There are many layers of sexual exchange and perception between men and women. The Bible is one of the sources for wisom and the perception of ages regarding the relations of men and women. In the iconic story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis in the Bible Adam is the first man and his words upon seeing the first woman are memorable. As Genesis 2: 22b-25 states:
” When he brought her to the man the man said.
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called “woman” for out of “her man” this one has bee taken.”
That is why a man leaves his mother an father and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.
The man and his wife were naked but they felt no shame.”

The extreme intimacy of the passage is in comparison to the anmials with whom Adam cannot marry or form an intimate partnership. But it remains a very intimate passage. There is almost nothing that has been mor under sustained attack for millenia than this excited, intimate and personal recognition by man of his mate in women. Real moral science ia very demading and elegant pursuit and thus is more often abandoned than pursued. However, real moral science must always take a careful measure of relations between the sexes.

I think it deserves to be said in this context that I believe in a moral struggle as a desirable thing. I find that those who are not struggling have usually settled for something bad. One of the powerful shaping forces of humanity as it is remains the strong belief that anything related to the relational structure of humanity must either be very ancient, fixed and setled or else a really blank slate upon which any given generation can write or draw whatever it wants. For me I think that the entire mystery and meaning of humanity is something quite different. Humans have numerous intrinsic qualities that cannot really be changed much in any generation. Yet one may face the future with confidence when aware of these strictures of the past and present. A generation and an individual can compose any vast number of varied tunes using these notes given by nature. By preserving and fully working the great musical tradition one can even enhance the range and delicacy of notes available to future generations of musicians. Sexuality and the role of women is one of the great musical worlds in which the human race can operate. It is an area where we all practice some form of art whether or not we even acknowledge it.

What evolution, the idea of original sin, reincarnation, eugenics and quite a few other theories about the proper living out of humanity have in common is the idea that we pass on something different to the future based on our actions. Humans may not agree on what the mechanism for passing things on is, nor what ought to be passed on, nor how that which is passed on relates to present behavior. But in many different ways and at many different levels of intensity we remind ourselves and are reminded by those we put in charge of our most serious thinking that we are changing the present of future generations by how we live out our own present here and now.

This is a rather serious business and humans are able to make rather substantial changes in the population in relatively short periods of time. One of the most notable struggles of human race is our struggle to define and make ourselves as a species. That our greatest project is ourselves is a perspective which gives great importance to waman’s involvement in the human adventure. One of the characterisitics of the modern era is that we expect the totality of sexual relations to be easily defined. Consider that terms like: harem, concubine, paramour, mistress, courtesan, sister-wife, rival, Abbess, novice, midwife, maid, lady-in-waiting, placement, princess, Queen, Official Mistress and countless others once denoted roles which were available to women in many cases simultaneously and which in huge numbers of places have all disappeared down to the last one. I write here not so much to change the world but more as any defeated soldier may write when he decides that before his life ends he wants to make really clear how badly he views this new order and the triumph of what he fought against. So for me I see layer upon layer of both personal defeat and the coming to an end of much of what makes the human species human. It goes back to my recurring theme thayt life has mostly been a nightmare.

One thing about sex and womanhood being very near the core of the human moral struggle is that the issues related to womanhood and sexuality are subject to the same regional and epochal variations as are other part of the human moral drama. From my point of view I may say that all humans are severely confused and diseased in their understanding of these things. However, I would not say that they or we all suffer from the same delusion or disease. We may all be in error but we are in distinct errors across the species. A loose translation of the Bible called the Catholic Living Bible translates a passage as follows:
Luke 11: 45-47a
“Sir,” said an expert in religious law who was standing there, ” you insult my profession, too, in what you just said.”
“Yes,” said Jesus, “the same horrors await you! For you crush men beneath impossible religious demands that you yourselves would never think of trying to keep. Woe to you!””

Sex is an area where evil intentions , evil plans and hate often come dressed up as morality. One of the greatest problems humanity faces is the problem of overcoming the advantages acrued by evil in human affairs once evil is recognized as a real thing. I think that for me sex is an aspect of the human condition which accentuates hoew badly flawed our species is and yet, at the same time, is the point of glory at which we can most resemble the species we were once meant to be.

Sex remains the great risk and gamble on which we still place the most on the table. Where we can never entirely wipe out our divine destiny whether we believe in it or not.I think of Lawrence Summers my distinguished nonrelative ( as far as i know) who has had his name on the money of the United States of America and beeen president of Harvard and I think of the uproar and probable beginings of the move to boot him from the presidency of that famed institution. He merely suggested that the difference in representatation in hard sciences and maths and engineering between men and women migh have something to do with natural predilections varying by sex. He did not say women could not be good engineers, scientists or mathematicians. This is a story where I think the female faculty at Harverd is 100% justified in being very vigilant to the point of near para noia in guarding access to these fields for women candidates. I think Lawrence Summers — aside from having phenomenaly good taste in last names — was fully justified in speculating that there may be proclivities varying by sex which were relevant here. I think in that regard both sides in the dispute acted as relatively wise and intelligent people. Nonethless, I would favor the Swedish Parliament funding a Special “Silly Goose Award” comparable to the Nobel prizes they already give out and making all parties to this public dispute designated recipients. “Sex” it has often been said “makes fools of us all”.

Just the other night I watched the Miss USA Pageant and there is speculaation that one of the finalists was effectively disqualified by the very verbaly abusive ( on the web later) Perez Hilton for saying that she personally believed marriage was mneant to be between a man and a woman. Mr. Hilton is misogynistic scum. That is a quality which abounds in male humans. His audacious moral hideousness in going into an inner sanctum of hetero-sexual celebration of attraction and oing all that he has done is vile. But so is covering over millions of cases of rape with non-notification laws on abortions for teenage girls. So is the female genital mutilation of millions of women throughout the world to destroy their sexuality. So is the killing of countless girls and women without prosecution by their families and lovers every year in the worst situations and without hope of justice all around the world. I am not sure the ladies of Harvard can afford quite the ivory tower they live in. However, in that way they resemble their male counterparts.

I do not believe that the story at the begining of the book of Genesis was written by Moses after visiting the origins of the human species in a time machine. I do not believe the writer had a Ph. D. in biology. I do not believe it is a book coded from another book which was largely a straight first hand bio-history of its time — that is what I believe about the Gospels. I am even willing to say that he early stories are myths which is a word that atheistic relativistic scholars love to use for them. However, I do think that they are true stories written to pass on ancient coded trruths and insights which come from miraculousy ancient parts of the human story. Why is so much in the Bible coded?

That is a question for a long an important note on another occasion. In this note we will examine a bit more of Adam and Eve. There are three phases of the sexual relationship betwwen the two. in very general terms I mean for one could argue for a dozen phases.

The first is the phase in Genesis 2: 22-25b which I have already quoted this is the relationship between Man and Woman which God intended as unique to the human species. This really reflected the Image of an ultimate divine nature. The qualities of that relationship are intimacy, passion, empathy, excitement sex, good bodily self-image and fertitlity. It sounds tiring to those of us with enough mileage but otherwise one who can think can see the logic and goodness of it.

To preserve this humanity needed God’s friendship and to avoid eating the fruit of the knowleddge of Good and Evil. The writer here is using code for cannibalism. Yes, that again. The passage says that iti is a tree in the middle of the garden of course humans are in the middle of their own world always. That on the day one eats it humans will die and again if humans are eaten then the human eaten will die. It brings knowledge of Good and Evil and we actually have a lot of data across many centuries and cultures to show that eating human flesh is a passage which brings cunning, insioght and moral guilt into human minds in a unique way whether the society endorses or forbids cannibalism.

The last set of relations is the abusive marrasige and the loss of God’s friendship which define behavior which is in the survivable margin for humans as we currently are. These last two phases of the story are descibed in Genesis Chapter three. We all are still living in the last phase at best from the story’s own point of view.

It goes far beyond my capacity in time and space in tis note to show instances of cultures where men have driven their lands into desert and ruin to make sure that women were sastarving and dispossessed and fit into one of three (to them) acceptable catgories hyper-breeding terrified slaves, spies or religiously deluded cattle reared as food. rthis of course has always included the need to kill and maim some large number of men who cannot overcome (or heroicaly resist overcoming) their lover for mothers, sisters, and female lovers. Some of the time homosexuals have led this misogynistic elte.

Life is often hell and human society often a sewer which exceeds my capcity to espress and usually it involves building things on one of two principles men hating women or women hating children. Often this is dressed up as religion or ideology but it is really about that. This engine allows the most foul and wothless kinds of people to amss almost all available power and resources. It has happened occasionaly since time imemorial.

The sexualy intense path of paradise requires lots of restriction and guidance in the real world. It always has unless you believe we may have had an unfallen Eden somewhere in the pre-historic past. But it is the path which produces real joy and love, wealth, pressure for progress and other necessities. I presume that almost everyone alive today is someone iI would consider fundamantally insane. But I do not take such a dim view of insanity as some do. Homosexuality is a condition of some sons of women which is in my view tolerable when thaose who are homosexual know it is alimiting thing and have the humility to see it as a speciai status with some rewards and some disease like qualities requiring a routine of self -care, or when they publicly acnkowledge it as a kind of loss in bio-sweepstakes in which they make the best out of a less than first place postion. But when they think as Mr. Hilton does they are evil men encouraging other evil men in a way which opens on to an ininite pool of evil.

Women are tied to certain kinds of inferiority too. the way a man is supposed to feel superior is in the act of achieving coital satisfaction. Unthinkably in allowing the killer and crusher in him to feel fed by her sufferings in pregnancy and child birth and then letting the good and protective part of him make it up to her in other ways. Women are supposed to have a capacity for maistakes as a class which is no the same in men. If women stopped getting pregnant and being a little optimistic about it when everything was bleak and horrible there would never be a brighter tomorrow. What is wrong is that there have for hundreds of centuries been people racing to the bottom giving women less and less of their share for breeding expenses as it were. There is a lot more I could say on this subject. Men have also been maimed and crippled by women in many ways and that is also part of the drama.

I believe that we all face a need for learning more and better views of marriage, culture , midwifery and other subjects. However, only when humanity is able to see that women were maent to inflame men and so were made by God and yet we cannot handle it can we begin to handle it. I truly think that both medical contraception and the church sponsored studies of natural family planning in recent centuries can bring us much closer to what we are menat to be. And yet I would be lying if I said that I believe the Catholic Hieracrhcy or Gynecolgists have handled the test very well. I think there is a massive sexual crisis on Earth and that is a separate note because it relates mostly to the last 1,500 years where as what I have discussed is about all humans at all times. In the West our current disoprder is usually to be blindly iresponsible and lie about why. In the East it is to use responsibiliuty as an excues for racing to the worst positions because they are sustainable. I think that anyone who believes in a God, Gods, Fates, Karma or Providence should be very afraid to account for our species’ sexual legacy. The rest of you, well you sort of amuse me –maybe that is your cosmic purpose.