The movie "Oblivion" and its analogy to the Novus Ordo

A few weeks ago I happened to watch "Oblivion", a Hollywood movie set in an undefined future time. I caution that this piece has a bit of a spoiler alert on it, so if you haven't seen the movie "Oblivion" and plan to see it then you might want to see it first, for the twist is half the movie.

In any case, the movie is set in future time and we follow a technician played by Tom Cruise with what seems to be his girlfriend, or fiancé perhaps - they do not seem married in any case, although I'll admit I didn't check for wedding rings. His time is spent servicing these firghter droids which are kept on Earth to destroy the remnants of an invading alien force which invaded the Earth, but lost the battle. As a result all of the Earth's humans have migratede/are in the process of migrating to another planet, and left behind are these machines which harvest the Earth's resources for transportation to the new planet, I presume. It is these machines which the technician services.

This couple is responsible for its sector, and they are aware of other sectors although they never venture into them. Their memories have been wiped out to protect the mission and the mission is run from a ship in outer space - in a command centre called "the Tet" -, the only communication that these 2 people have with the outside world.

An incident takes place which opens the main character's eyes  - a space vessel crash landing on Earth. The only survivor is a woman, who is only saved by the actions of the main character, who gets in the way of the droids which killed all the other crew members in the vessel. This woman turns out to know him from before, and further on we learn that she was his wife. She seemed familiar since he had had many flashbacks of her before he had even met her.

It turns out that he was an astronaut  previously, and that his crew was preparing for a discovery mission to another planet when this vessel arrived from outer space. The crew was instead sent to check it out. Approaching the vessel their craft were pulled in somehow, at which point the main character and his now-girlfriend - the pilots - ejected the hibernation module from the space craft. They pilots succumbed, and had their memories wiped out.

It gets worse. They were then sent back to Earth, first as part of an invading army, having been cloned, and then after the army had managed to wipe out most of mankind, having also taken the chance to destroy the moon, they were sent to service these machines which extract vital supplies from the Earth. We never see who made the alien vessel, and we do not know of its motives: All we know is that it is intent on destroying mankind and has no qualms about using them to destroy one another, although it realises that their memories have to be wiped out first.

The line which struck me most with the movie was when the main character's 'real' wife, in attempting to convince him that he is working for the enemy, tells him how their crew was sent to investigate this mysterious object which had been spotted in space: "It was the Tet".

It is that line which made the analogy with Vatican II unavoidable. Imagine a naive commander ( represented by Pope John XXIII) sending his crew (in this case represented by the bishops)  to meet a foreign threat (call it 1960s hippism, modernism, what-have-you). Returning from this journey these crew members then find themselves embracing the threat they were sent to oppose, and on top of that, embark on an unrelentless quest to wipe out those who they were supposed to protect all along. That is pretty much what happened, except obviously along the way the naivity of Pope John XXIII gave way to the recklessness of Pope Paul VI.

Some analogies are quite striking:

  • The memory wiped out so that the crew members will attack their own reminds me of modern Catholics, who are so uninformed about the Catholic faith that they view any authentic Catholic expression with suspicion. They gleefully embrace the errors which so horrified their forebears.
  • The Church started in the 1960s according to many, not least those who prepared the synod documents of the 2014 estraordinary synod on the family, in which no document or Pope before 1960 was cited, as if the family sprung up as a result of people cosying up to see their favourite astronatus on their space flights. For the crew, their lives started when  their memories were wiped out, so they only remember the past 3 years even though the main character is well into his 40s at least.
  • The way the Earth is divided into different zones, with the crew not being allowed to see beyond their own. This is a direct analogy to how the Church has splintered into different national churches, most with their own distinctive heresies, each unable to participate in the liturgy of another because instead of one Roman rite liturgy, we essentially have different liturgies per parish. If you can't go beyond your zone, then you will be at the mercy or whatever priest or bishop who happens to be around.
  • The way the crew which was meant to serve comes back persecuting its own has its direct analogy in how the bishops have shouted down so many who have stood up for what the Church teaches, the latest clear example being the Franciscans of the Immaculate.
  • Getting rid of the Latin and the Tridentine Mass means that both priests and laity have no communication with the outside world - the Catholics who came before them  - just like the crew only has communication with the outside world through the Tet,

The analogy with Vatican II is...

My Christmas worries

Every year when Christmas comes around I think of what a wonderful time it is, how much hope that event some 2,000 years ago still insipires even in those who are not familiar with the Biblical details.

Related to that hope, however, is the anxiety I have for all those Christians who live in countries in which going to Holy Mass on for Christmas entails a very real possibility that they will not make it back, either being attacked on their way to church or even during Holy Mass. Primarily this happens in Muslim countries or in countries where there is a militant Islamist presence.

It seems that in between militant atheists in the West, and militant Islamists outside the West, there is no place for Christians to live and worship freely, paying homage in everything they do. I often think back to Pope Benedict XVI's "Spirit of the Liturgy", in which he writes that the Israelites had to flee Egypt so they could worship God in the proper way. Often it feels as though we need a new Exodus. But where to? All the avenues seem closed, and formerly Christian lands seem oftentimes to be even more violently opposed to true worship than Islamic lands.

Then it occurs to me that Christianity has always been an uphill battle, not a religion for the fainthearted. In between Herod at the beginning of Jesus' life and the Sanhedrin at the end of it, people have been trying to snuff out the light of Christ and where they did not succeed in putting it out at its inception, they continued to try and snuff it out through persecuting His disciples. Even those who recognised that Christ was innocent, as did Pontius Pilate, still could not get themselves to defend Christ and rather had him tortured to pacify the crowds. So it often feels of people who claim to be 'friendly' to Christianity, even unfortunately, amongst our very own shepherds. Well, we are still here and we shall still be here until Christ comes back in glory.

Still, at this time of year, I cannot help but say a heartfelt prayer for those Christians who know full well that the very act of worship is often inseparable from the cross of martyrdom. For sure there are other issues of gravity in the Church, but at this time of year, those persecuted Christians deserve as much of our admiration and goodwill as we can muster.

Will the synod on the family continue the rape of Holy Mother Church?

I wish I had something more uplifting to write, or that I could put my thoughts in a more uplifting tone, but that is all I can think of right now. They are strong words, but there is no other way to express the blatant apostasy, disrespect and spitting-in-the-face of Christ and His Bride that I have witnessed during this latest pontificate.

There has been no shortage of high-ranking Churchmen throughout history who have done grave damage to Holy Mother Church and her flock. The difference between most previous times and present ones lies mainly in that the rank of those abusing Her has been climbing ever since the Second Vatican Council.

So I can only ask: Will the synod on the family which began today continue the rape of Holy Mother Church?

I surely hope not, but I am not optimistic.

Summorum Pontificum turns 7 - A recollection and a prediction

The future is always uncertain: The only certainty is that the LORD will prevail.

Looking back 7 years ago, I cannot claim that I made note of it when Pope Benedict XVI the beloved issued Summorum Pontificum. Back then I didn't even know what a Motu Proprio was; much less would I have cared to remedy that ignorace. In fact, at the time, I had only been to one Catholic Mass in Sweden, and that was when Pope John Paul II died, and I do not remember much about that Mass, apart from that the Church was very small and crowded.

The first I heard of a "liturgy war", as such, was when I read about some effort to get the Pope to limit something. I didn't know what that something was, but I realise now that it must have been Summorum Pontificum. I remember signing a petition in favour of upholding tradition, although I was not quite sure what that meant; I did know though that tradition is not to be taken lightly. It is to be revered, not disdained. This might have been in 2008; I doubt it was in 2007 or 2009.

To my pleasant surprise, it turns out that when news broke from Rome, it was very good indeed, and the Mass was given even more exposure, and more liberty.

It took a few years before I attended Mass again - following Pope John Paul II's funeral - but I had remembered reading from a coommentor in a newspaper that the Catholics have Mass with the priest turned against the people. The writer of that particular comment did not mean it in a complementary manner. When I finally did attend Mass, I went there loaded with a Bible - like I had learned to do while attending non-denominational services - fully expecting the priest to have his back turned towards us. Alas, this was not the case!

It turns out that my Bible was of no use at the Mass - strange people these Catholics are that don't need a Bible at Mass! There was a hymn book though and I sat next to a young man who I assumed was Spanish, and he must have realised I was new because he helped me out. The Mass was in English. This was in 2010. I admit readily that I felt a bit short-changed, but I was also very exhilirated about finally attending a Catholic Mass all on my own.

It would be 2013 before I attended my first Tridentine Mass. I had made a New Year's resolution to attend the 'Old Mass', tired as I was about the arguments regarding the new English Translation of the Roman Missal, and also frankly questioning all the innovations and liturgical abuses that I had been reading about. I had even ordered a missal, although it had not arrived in time for the first Sunday Mass of the year.

Mass came and went. I took part. I had never felt more at home than I did then.

Sure, a lot of things seemed perplexing, and I hardly understood a word, but it was clear that I was worshipping with the saints in Heaven, and that this Mass was one made for God, and not for man. I have really never looked back since, and how I wish I had discovered it sooner. Sadly, the Tridentine Mass is not as available as it should be, and in Sweden at least, the growth has not been as exponential as that (allegedly) experienced elsewhere, but at least the knowledge that it exists is growing - it has even made enemies-, and in time those who have an opinion on the Tridentine Mass without even knowing what it is will open their eyes. Some of them will undoubtedly come to revere the immense treasure that Holy Mother Church has bequeathed us through the Mass.

As to why Pope Benedict XVI chose to issue Summorum Pontificum, it is difficult to know for sure. From his writing, it is clear that he laments the apostasy and watering down of the faith that has taken place since Vatican II. His writings clearly display a reverence for the sacrifice of the Mass that is as humbling as it is pious - wisdom in action. I have little doubt that Pope Benedict XVI would have much rather had us return to the Tridentine Mass, and that he would have taken us there had he felt he had the power to do so - this much is clear from his writings. As it is, he left us without ever having offered a Tridentine Mass as Pope; regrettable indeed.

What he felt was not in his power to accomplish he left to the laity instead: With the Tridentine Mass liberated, it is up to the faithful to the world the true face of worship so that the Church can once again teach with the clarity she once did. It is up to those who insist that God deserves to be worshipped in dignity and modesty, that apostolic tradition deserves to be upheld, that the Liturgy should shine forth in all its supernatural beauty, and that the Church's teachings should filter down to us unchanged from the first centuries onwards to bring people to the Mass and do what Pope Benedict XVI felt incapable of doing: Restore the Tridentine Mass to its pride of place in the Latin-rite Church. For sure Summorum Pontificum will not be the final salvo, but without an authentic Catholic liturgy, it is impossible to have an authentically Catholic Church. The battle goes on, but now those on Christ's side can fight with the most powerful of weapons.

As to what the future holds, the fault lines seem to be quite clear. The craziest and wildest of the heretics are dying off, but that does not mean that the faithful can take it easy. Much of the apostasy they fought for now goes for Catholicism in many places,...

An attempt to resume writing after an unexpectedly long hiatus

It has been a very long time since my last post - well over a month actually. In part this is because I have been quite busy professionally, but that is not all.

In fact, I have been keeping up my daily links so I have been reading a lot about what is happening in the world, especially that which relates to events in the Church of Christ. Unfortunately, much of what I have been reading has left me frustrated and sometimes a bit despondent. Oftentimes I have felt an urge to write something, only to realise that it risks becoming a rant about Bergoglioism and the latest shenanigans of our Holy Father. There seems to be no end in sight to papal scandals, or indeed the episcopal, priestly and consecrated religious scandals that these have inspired. Meanwhile, the desctruction of sanity continues unabated in the rest of the world, and while I don't think we can afford to give even a second's rest in reacting to the enemies of the Church within the clergy, we must realise that these strongly reflect the attitudes prevailing outside the Church and these attitudes must be tempered. Left untouched, we shall find that there is no room for us to worship and glorify God once the Catholic restoration gets fully underway.

The purpose of this blog was not to write about events in the Church, but I have felt forced to comment about events now and then. It is my intention to keep doing so, but in keeping with my original intentions, I intend to write much more about non-Church news and how these can be seen from a Catholic persepective, while also trying to make the key distinctions which are almost invariably missing from the major stories, as well as highlighting the assumptions which underlie much of what we read.

This is still very much a personal blog and the content is very much meant for myself. This explains is why the day's links page has remained active - I like to collect the articles I read. Lest there be any doubt that I am oblivious to the scandals that are blowing from Rome, I recommend 2 of the very best blogs covering internal Church issues, not infrequently reporting on latest deeds of Pope Francis, and unlike most, they do not back down from exposing scandal and heresy even when it comes from the very top. Indeed, all scandal is bad, but scandal is at its worst when it comes from the Vicar of Christ himself, and reading them will leave you in no doubt that there is plenty of that around:

For the most part, I am in total agreement with what both these bloggers write - both in tone and content, and I can't recommend them highly enough. With that out of the way, hopefully I can get back to what I had intended to do all along - which is to show that the beauty and truth of the Catholic Church, founded as she is on the one who is Truth Himself, is the answer to all that ails the world, and only in her wisdom can we find authentic liberty and joy.

Pope John Paul II becomes Saint John Paul II

Today Pope John Paul II was elevated to the rank of a saint. This canonisation has not been without controversy. Many have objected to canonising a man who did a few scandalous things, while those most in favour have pointed out that Pope John Paul II was in fact a holy man, who showed great courage and did a lot of work towards restoring the credibility and stability of the Catholic Church after inheriting the mess that Pope Paul VI had left behind.

The best articles I have found discussing the issue of canonisation's infallibility are the following:

One of the articles makes the point that the purpose of canonisations has changed, from affirming what was already practiced to essentially declaring new people as models for public veneration. That, the author notes, is a sad development. It is a point owrth remembering, and there, as in so many other spheres within the Catholic Church, a restoration to previous practice would very much be in order.

My view on canonisations is quite clear: We are bound to submit to the authority of the Church to declare that a person is in Heaven. We are not, however, bound to accept that everything the person did was good. In fact, we are not even required to believe that the person is a good role model. I would argue that we previously had to do this, but since canonisation has lost much of its past rigour and purpose, it is my understanding that we are within our rights to recognise some of the saints as ignorable.

Not being a theologian or a Church historian, my purpose is not to write a treatise on the rights and wrongs of this canonisation, but just to offer a few words of reflection, especially on our Pope John Paul II of fond memory.

As I am keen to tell virtually everyone with whom I engage on the topic of God and the Christian faith, I was not raised a Catholic. The process of becoming a faithful practising Catholic to the best of my ability and in accordance with the tenets of the Church owes much to the last few  years of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

I was indeed mesmerised by the courage and resolution he showed in his final moments, to the extent that I had to ask myself: How can he be so serene in the final days of his life? Might he perhaps know something that I don't? A few days after Pope John Paul II died, Cardian Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope, and he more than any other, is the one I have to thank. In his writings I found a clarity, assuredness and vigour that I had not experienced. It can be argued that Pope John Paul II's most admirable act was promoting Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to be head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In other words, I do not know much about Pope John Paul II, despite the fact that he was Pope for the majority of my life to date, and despite the fact that I always admired the man. I have  read that his Koran-kissing caused a lot of scandal, and we have the infamous Assissi meetings. During his pontificate he promoted modernists and other heterodox people, and did not do enough to promote orthodoxy as the only viable option. On the other hand, I have read that he steadied the ship after the confusion caused by Paul VI, that he helped bring down the evil communist empire, that he was courageous in fighting communism even before he became Pope, at great cost to his own personal safety, that he was always concerned with the unit of the family from his earliest days as a priest.

What I can gather from Pope John Paul II comes from his statements as Pope and his encyclicals. In reading his many encyclicals, I see a man who had a burning desire to bring people to God, one who was keen to promote Jesus Christ as not one teacher among many, but as the way to eternal life, one who wanted the Church to engage the world, but on the terms of Jesus Christ, truth itself. In his words, I see a man who is very clear on what the God requires of all individuals - not just Catholics. I see a man with a burning desire to teach, which is probably why he wrote so many encyclicals.

One thing I am sad to note about Pope John Paul II is that he did not show much courage in how he ran the Church. He did not stomp out dissent, although he at least kept it quiet. He did not affirm the importance of traditionalism, and it seems as though he thought one could have Catholicism without its various traditions - cultural or sacred - something which has shown itself to be very misguided. He did not seem particularly intent on promoting the Tridentine Mass, and it is unfortunate that his most notable excommunication is that of Archbishop Lefevbre, which could have been avoided if Pope John Paul II had been keen on passing on apostolic traditions through the timeless Mass and other practices.

I am still unsure as to whether his most memorable contribution to the Church will be his decision to allow altar girls (one which hopefully will be reversed when the Novus Ordo mass dies out), or his Theology of the Body, or the publication of the 1983 Code of Canon law, or the publication of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. Some of these are more honourable than others, but such is the nature of his pontificiate that there were many...

The Bergoglioism Wars

It cannot have escaped any faithful Catholic's attention that these are stormy times in the life of the Church. Whereas previously Catholics scandalised and confused by prelates at a local level could look to Rome for guidance, this seems no longer to be the case, with Rome itself being the source of much of the confusion. There is confusion as to what are papal words (to which we have to give intellectual assent) and words from the person who happens to be the Pope.

Michael Voris on ChurchMilitant.tv argues that the Pope is different, as the reason why they will not make public any criticism of Pope Francis. Predictably, Mundabor disagrees, which is not so strange as he seems to have been the target of a communication which went from ChurchMilitant.tv explaining why they will not criticise the Pope. I respect ChurchMilitant.tv's stance, and I certainly sympathise with their pain - which is all too visible on Michael Voris' face in the piece. However, though I accept that their conclusion is valid, I am not sure I accept the arguments they put forth - the major argument being that criticising the Pope might lead to some people leaving the Church and others not entering, because like it or not, the Pope is the face of the Church.

That argument does not take account of the fact that the number of people being led astray by not criticising the Pope might be greater (as they may be led into error), and even greater still might be the number of people who are  horrified at joining the Church if it means bending over backwards to accept statements which are obviously false, and where reason goes out the window if the Pope decides to be unreasonable, even though this goes against what the Catholic Church actually teaches. In fact, I have seen several people stating this as their prime objection to joining the Catholic Church. Whatever the case, the very fact that ChurchMilitant.tv runs this kind of piece at all tells us just how precarious the situation is right now. I do agree with them entirely on one thing, however: The salvation of souls is of the utmost importance. As to which approach best advances that cause, I am not so sure.

What we can't claim however, is that ChurchMilitant.tv has been silent in the confusion that has accompanied Pope Francis. Whenever a bishop or a priest, or a cardinal has said something scandalous - in line with Pope Francis - they have not been slow to point out what the Church teaches. This is unlike much of the orthodox Catholic media which seems to have given up promoting Catholicism because doing so might seem to be an attack on what the pope has said.

I do, however, resent Michael Voris' use of "left and right" to charaterise criticism of Pope Francis. Criticism of the pope has come mainly from orthodox Catholics, and the Bergoglioism wars seems rather to be between traditionalist Catholics (those who love the Church and all it has held from her infancy) and conservative Catholics (those who accept Vatican II as the re-birth of the Church, like some of its traditions but are always keen to defend innovations if they come from Rome). The heretics and heterodox (those who Michael Voris calls "left") - who do not care much for promoting the teachings if the Catholic Church anyway -in contrast, seem to be very happy with the state of confusion in Rome, with the only criticism being that the Pope is allowing himself to be held back by the more conservative elements in the Vatican. They seem to think he is one of theirs, that he would ring in many more changes if only he did not fear some in Rome. I don't agree with that view (entirely), but it is safe to say that nobody can charaterise Pope Francis as a tradition-loving orthodox Catholic.

In my opinion there is room for both approaches, so long as both keep their mind on the primary objective for all Catholics: The salvation of souls.

As it so happens, I am more in line with ChurchMilitant.tv, and to the best of my ability, I aim to keep my blog from criticising Pope Francis directly. However, I'll not do contortions to defend everything he does. I made up my mind a long time ago to defend Pope Francis only if he is attacked for defending the Catholic Church with whose stewardship he has been entrusted. I take the words of Pope Francis as I take the words of any man - at face value - and I absolutely refuse to re-interpret someone's words to mean the opposite of what they meant when they were uttered. Such megalomaniacal self-delusion is to be shunned by all peope who profess the Catholic faith.

I cannot help, however, but recall Roberto de Mattei's warning to Radio Maria after they had cancelled his show, that we are deluded to think we shall not be involved in the whirlwind that is Bergoglioism, that "the time will come, however, when one has to take sides". Mario Palmaro certainly took sides, and the pain evident in his writings is there for all to see. No orthodox Catholic takes pleasure in criticising the Pope, but criticise we sometimes must do, lest we be complicit in his scandal.

Although I lean with ChurchMilitant.tv on this issue (regarding public criticism), I very much appreciate Mundabor's blog - which is pretty much my favourite - and his reasoning. He does not take pleasure in criticising the Pope, but sees his duty as that of a poor blogger trying to defend the faith of his ancestors and the apostles. He seems to be a man who will not let courtesy get in the way of the truth, and I generally seem to think that is the way to go. If...

The children never stood a chance

Last Friday - the 21st of January - I happened to stumble upon a piece on SVT, the national publicly-funded news station. There was a piece on how children are now living in joint-custody arrangements, whereby they spend half their time in one parent's home and the other half in the other parents. The piece featured 2 women who were living together in a 'commune' of sorts, with 2 bedrooms where one lived with her children when they were visiting. My understanding of the piece is that the women were not romantically involved. One of the women (presumably semi-famous) talked about how we need to accept new family situations, that it was not a destruction of the family but rather a creation of a new family model. In the piece was also a man who talked about how he and his new live-in woman have a similar arrangement, since they have children from another marriage.

After the piece there was a person who spoke - it was claimed she was a researcher and she had some statistics to share. It also turned out that she also lived in a similar situation, being a divorcee herself (or at the very least that she had children with a man with whom she used to live but does not live with any more).

As for the statistics themselves, there was nothing remarkable. She claimed that children who live with both biological parents tend to do better than children who live with only one biological parent all the time, and that children who live in joint-custody arrangements tend to do better than children who have access to only one parent, but not as well as children living with 2 parents. This is about as ringing an endorsement of the family as you will ever have on Swedish media. There was no discussion on marriage and whether children who are raised by parents united in marriage are better off than others. In Sweden, co-habitation and marriage are seen largely as the same thing - with marriage having the dubious distinction of being an arrangement with practically no benefits in law but many downsides.

If the piece had ended there I would not have bothered to comment on it. However, the researcher received a question though on why joint-custody rates vary so much between countries. Then she went on about how it all has to do with different views on women's equality with men, and views on whether women should be in the workplace. In other words, according to her, it all had to do with feminism, and women's 'progress' in the workplace and society at large.

I found that very odd since I would have assumed that as someone who researches on the well-being of children, her natural inclination would have been to say something akin to "different cultures have different views on how best to raise children", or "different countries have different views on the centrality of children in social policies". Make no mistake: What we are talking about primarily here is children - because it is they who have to be uprooted and displaced every now and then -, but according to her, even when we are discussion the well-being of children, they only come third in consideration after 'equality' in the households and 'equality' in the workplace.

Of course, for Sweden, the most important factor in joint-custody relationships is not men wanting to take care of their children, but rather the fact that in a joint-custody relationship the man does not have to pay alimony to the mother of his children - which is a rather big attraction given that most people don't want to offer material support to people they might have liked previously but now despise. This aspect did not feature in her analysis though, which is strange. Given the frequency with which unborn children are killed in Sweden, and given the fact that many people have children with multiple partners while clearly not intending to commit to them, it is fair to say that Swedes are generally not the most child-loving or child-centrered people, so a good researcher might be curious to explain why men in such a  society choose joint-custody solutions. Maybe she has, but it didn't show. I was left with the impression that her research was by and large driven by a desire to rationalise her own divorce and subsequent lifestyle choices.

In the final analysis though, it is plain to see that feminism and leftism are the lenses through which all political discourse takes place in Sweden. It would be difficult otherwise to explain how a piece which is clearly about children ends up being an analysis of women's 'progress' in society.

Elections bring out the true colours of a country

This is an election year in Sweden, which has a 4-year election cycle. I do not follow domestic politics so much, not because it does not affect me but for the most part because it seems rather pointless. What we have is in essence a multi-party one-party state in which discussion about fundamentals never takes place. Sure, the parties have minor differences as to how the aims can be achieved, and the so-called right favour marginally lower taxes than the left, but by any objective reading all the major parties in Sweden are leftist of one form or another - believing as they do in the all-mighty state.

Elections normally bring out the true colours of a country, because it brings to the fore what the politicians regard as the selling points to the normal person in the street. So it is even in Sweden, although given that Swedish people are generally very reticent about voicing any divergent opinion, it is difficult to say whether the issues which are valued by politicians are actually the issues which the normal Swedish person values. By and large the politicians have a very easy time in Sweden because regardless of how unpopular a bill might be, it is very rare for a public outcry. The fact that most of the time the parties seem to be on the same side - and not co-incidentally this happens to be the side supported by media - tends to make Sweden a very governable place for the politicians.

There is one major party which stands out in Sweden and that is "Sverigedemokraterna" - the "Swedish democrats", directly translated. This too is a statist party, but at least when they speak they speak like normal people, as though they live on this particular planet in this particular galaxy and not on some parallel galaxy where we can pretend that crime has no victims and that we can obliterate centuries of culture through multiculturalism and come out the other side better than we were before. (I am not hereby in any way shape or form taking a stance as to whether the Swedish culture is better than a certain undefined multi-culture, merely stating that multiculturalism is an experiment doomed to failure.) This party gets predictably bad press and is frequently described as far-right, but it is in fact a leftist party for nationalists. For some reason, in Sweden, far right is supposed to be bad, which is why the media attaches that label to anyone who dislikes forcing multiculturalism down everybody's throats by way of leftism.

There is also a party started last month called "Kristna Värdepartiet" - "the Christian values party", directly translated. This party seems quite different, and in its party program it states taht it wants to recude teh influence of the state. It also wants to make the killing of the unborn illegal. On top of that, it wants to allow home-schooling (which is illegal in practice). Of all the parties I have come across in Sweden, this is as non-leftist as it gets, and can even be described as 'conservative' - that most hated of words in this country. I shall try as much as I can to report on how this party is reported.

As I wrote in my introduction, I don't follow domestic Swedish politics too much. However, during election years I do like to follow the different election strategies and keep tabs on what kind of marketing the parties are doing for themselves. So last time, for instance, we had the greens telling us that they wanted to abolish the 'traditional family' (an intrinsic evil if ever there was one), whereas the Swedish democrats rode on a platform of trying to promote it - among other things by providing free counselling to couples who are in divorce proceedings. That to me was the most striking difference of the last election, and the ability of the Swedish democrats to speak as though they value them, whereas many of the other parties see people as variables in a social experiment. That being written, the Swedish democrats did not have a very coherent platform - running as they did on the idea that Islam is the greatest threat to Sweden (which it might well be although I disagree with that assessment) since Nazism. The reason this is incoherent is because Nazism was not a threat to Sweden in any way and Sweden was in many ways a collarator and admirer of  Nazism. However, we are taught to associate Nazism with evil (without necessarily being taught what was evil about it philosophically), and by associating Islam with Nazism they aimed at triggering a reflexive reaction from the voters. I am not sure it succeeded, but they did nonetheless make it to parliament for the first time and they are now the third biggest party (although in my opinion this has very little to do with that particular tactic).

This year I am to write about some of the more outrageous political ideas that will be floated about during the current election cycle. Unfortunately, I do admit that I might already be immunised against many of them, and that some of the ideas which seem outrageous to outsiders will simply go unnoticed. Nonetheless, I am pretty sure there will be plenty of examples to prove just how juvenile political discourse in Sweden happens to be.

Anybody who follows debates on life and family will know that Sweden is at the forefront of the efforts against both. Make no mistake however: Sweden is not ground zero in the culture of death. That particularly dubious honour (at least in Europe) would have to go to Belgium which seems to be in a one-horse race towards becoming the most decadent society yet known to man. Many of the ideas floated around casually are nowhere near the horizon in Sweden - and the idea of euthanasia is not one which politicians of any stripe have...

The dreadful day when our beloved Pope Benedict XVI resigned

I remember that dreadful day quite well. It was just about lunch time, just before noon, and I tuned into the Catholic Herald's website, looking for the latest news in the Catholic world - and there it was "Pope Benedict XVI resigns" or something like it. At first I thought it was a bad joke, but I was in no mood to simply shrug it off. So I visited Radio Vaticana's website, and found confirmation of the fact. My dearly beloved Pope Benedict XVI had resigned.

I was working with a colleague who was Catholic. He used to take a daily lunchtime stroll and I told him that I really needed some fresh air. Once outside, I told him that Pope Benedict XVI had resigned. He had to check his phone for confirmation, but by that time the news had spread - "this is historic!", was his reaction. He was under the impression that Pope Benedict must have been very sick for this to happen and he felt certain that the Holy Spirit would not allow the Church to have a bad Pope, not when there is so much confusion, not when there is such a strong need for the Church and her wise leadership. I did not say so at the time, but I was more alarmed than he was. To me, it felt certain that this was the last chance of the modernists to install one of their own as Pope, but I was still in shock. Some part of me wanted to believe that the Pope was really sick and that he had to resign, but I found myself realising just what an evil thought that was: Could I not just wish Pope Benedict a peaceful retirement, and take him at face value when he said that he did not have the powers needed for his role?

On and on it went, and I lept from one Catholic news outlet to the next, seeking reactions, wondering what might come, wondering why this had happened. One thing I was sure about though: Pope Benedict always put the Church first, and if he resigned then he must have had good reason to do so. I also thought to myself "If there is anybody who has earned the right to a peaceful life, it surely is Pope Benedict."

The next few weeks saw a lot of speculation as to why Pope Benedict had resigned, most of which I ignored, some of which was very vicious. I had simply chosen to take Pope Benedict's words at face value: He felt he should resign for the good of the Church, and if he had so much faith in the Church to elect a good successor then maybe I owed it to him to do likewise. We had many articles and comments which insisted that we have nothing to worry about since the Holy Spirit picks the Pope. This is, of course, not what the Church teaches, nor will it ever teach that - not least because we have a decent list of less than admirable popes. To the faithful and unlearned - who are at least obedient enough to believe the Church is holy, but uniformed enough to know what the Church actually teaches - this was an admirable response. However, it is so dangerous that it even prompted one writer to title an article "Cut the Papa-Bull", which I felt was right on point. The heretics and lukewarm 'Catholics' were of course rejoicing because they were hoping for someone who would come and undo all the good that Pope Benedict had done.

Over the coming weeks I prayed for Pope Benedict more than I had ever done before. I wanted to pray to God and petition Him to get Pope Benedict to change his mind, but I resited the urge. Rather, I prayed that Pope Benedict would lead us wisely during what little time he had left as Pope, and that the cardinals would elect a wise person to succeed him, and that he would have the peace of mind he had so earnestly earned during the course of a life spent in service of the Church.

When I saw his last pictures as Pope - not live - I felt a deep sense of sorrow come over me. I also felt as though I had betrayed him. I had long wished that Pope Benedict would be Pope for a long time - at least 10-15 years and I had always been worried that he would be tough to replace. The fact that the Church has replaced Popes for close to 2,000 years calmed me a bit, yet I knew that the Church was sailing in some of the fiercest waves that she had ever encountered, and we had lost just about the most steady captain available on God's good Earth, and not due to a natural calamity either. I felt as though I had betrayed Pope Benedict because I had not prayed for him as much as I should have done previously, how sad it was that I was praying for him more towards the end of his pontificate than I had done over all the previous time. I felt as though I had let him down by not defending the Church more forcefully, by not proclaiming the LORD more joyously and fervently. I was determined to keep Pope Benedict in my prayers for the rest of his Earthly life, and I am happy that I have been able to do that.

A few months previously I had had a dream in which I was assigned to guard Pope Benedict only to see him assassinated right in front of my very eyes. That dream all of a sudden seemed very real, and glad as I was that the Pope was still alive, I felt I still felt a sense of deep sorrow that I would never again look forward to hearing from that humble God-loving man.

As I...

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