Professional and personal obligations have kept us from updating Semiduplex as frequently as we would have liked over the past three months. We have just published a comment on the exchange at Church Life Journal between Timothy Troutner and Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. We also intend to publish a follow-up piece to our essay on St. Thomas Aquinas and Frederick II, in part taking aim at the assertion that Aquinas directly rebuked Frederick in the Summa Theologiae. We would also like to return to one of the originally stated purposes of our blog and talk about books and music. For example, who wouldn’t want a Semiduplex review of the recent memoirs floating around out there from prominent young Catholic authors like Michael B. Dougherty and Sohrab Ahmari? As Donald Trump likes to say: We’ll see!
October 4th—the greater double feast of St. Francis, a fact which has escaped us until this moment—is the anniversary of Semiduplex. Last year, we wrote a fairly lengthy post reflecting upon the past year. We will spare you a similar post. Instead, we will simply thank you for your time and attention.
Yours very truly,
You may have noticed, dear reader, that we have not been writing about some topics of considerable interest in the Church today. We thought we’d give you a brief rundown of them and explain, briefly, why we have not been writing about them:
- The SSPX Situation. So far, we have found that Bishop Fellay and Archbishop Pozzo have been pretty transparent. They have repeatedly said that discussions are ongoing and proposals are being evaluated. So far, despite rumors that something is imminent, things appear to be proceeding along the lines they have marked out. We are confident that if (when) something changes, Bishop Fellay and Archbishop Pozzo will let us know, and we look forward to commenting then.
- The (Order of) Malta Situation. It is regrettable that Fra’ Matthew Festing was forced out of his sovereign position by the Secretariat of State. However, it is not so surprising that the Secretariat of State would come down so definitely on the side of monied Germans, is it? As for Cardinal Burke, it has been for quite some time clear that his career is not going to advance during this pontificate. At any rate, Edward Pentin, Edward Condon, and Edward Peters have covered this situation admirably, and we would not want to repeat their commentaries ad nauseam.
- The (Dioceses of) Malta Situation. We were a little surprised by the reports that the Maltese bishops, including Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who was a close collaborator of then-Cardinal Ratzinger at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, doing really heroic work to clean up the filth in certain quarters, have gone in so enthusiastically for the most radical interpretation of Amoris laetitia. (Then again we have never asked too many questions about why Universae Ecclesiae wound up the way it did.) Again, there are many excellent reports on this topic, and we don’t want to try your patience by telling you what you already know.
- Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s Book. An interesting study, to be sure, but we will wait until it comes out in English to read it and offer comments.
- The Posters, the Parodies, and the Statements. We are sure that hypercritical posters, parodies of L’Osservatore Romano, statements by cardinals constituting the pope’s crown council, and statements by the Secretariat of State promising to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who misuses the image of the pope or the various heraldry of the Holy See are part of every pontificate and so commonplace as to be beneath comment.
We hope these brief explanations answer any questions you may have. The bottom line is that we do not want to bore you by regurgitating information you may well have read at other sources.
Today marks the first anniversary of Semiduplex. While we said that we did not have a program when we launched this blog—and, indeed, we did not—events soon ran ahead of us. If you’ll recall, the Ordinary General Session of the Synod of Bishops convened a few weeks after Semiduplex went live. Who could forget? And that experience has really set the tone for Semiduplex since then.
We anticipated writing that we were going to try to adopt a more eclectic focus, returning to our initial plan to have no plan. Certainly, we wish we had written more about music and books over the past year. On the other hand, developments in the Church, ranging from Amoris laetitia to the decidedly underwhelming reforms of the Curia, have called for some comment. And to a certain extent, that is probably as it should be. It seems perhaps a little frivolous to avoid talking about these developments in favor of lighter things. That having been said, we plan on trying to include more of these lighter things in the future, if only to break up the monotony.
We have occasionally written on political matters and the liturgy, and some of our most popular posts have been on those subjects. We plan on writing more on these topics too, especially on political questions, but the presidential election has reached a point where we are no longer especially interested in commenting upon it. That said, we have the sense—others do, too—that we are at the end of an era politically. American-style liberalism has never looked weaker or less attractive than it does now, and more than ever people are turning to the Church and its teachings for clear guidance on navigating an increasingly complex political environment. Traditionally, the Feast of Christ the King was on the last Sunday in October, which seems more than usually significant this year. At any rate, we think we ought to start discussing these questions a little more regularly.
Turning from content to reaction, we have been surprised at the popularity (or infamy) of some of our posts. We have been linked by much bigger operations, and we have had some thousands of visitors and many thousands of page views. Of course, we are still small potatoes, even within the world of traditionally minded Catholics, and we don’t anticipate that that will change. (However, we are always tremendously gratified to see that we’ve had a visitor with a Vatican City IP address. Tell your friends about us! Leave us up on public computers in Santa Marta!) We have been linked to by other blogs, mentioned on Twitter, and even have gotten some emails from readers. Not fan mail, alas, but it’s a new year. Earlier, we indicated that we might liberalize our content policy, but then we never got around to doing it. That people have linked to us or mentioned us on Twitter indicates to us that our initial instinct is correct: people don’t need our combox to comment on us. So, for now, we’re going to stick with the current commenting regime.
A post like this is terribly self indulgent. We will, therefore, refrain from trying your patience any more than necessary and say, simply, that we are deeply grateful that you have chosen to spend a little time with us on matters that we both take very seriously. We hope that we have repaid your time with something that is, at the very least, interesting. Or, if not interesting, at least infuriating. After all, as a famous woman said, isn’t it better to be angry than bored? (Probably not spiritually, we must admit.) We close by saying that we hope, very much, that this upcoming year is much less eventful than the past one.
Yours very truly,
When we started Semiduplex last fall, we decided not to allow comments, believing that anyone who wanted to say something about one of our posts could take to Twitter, Facebook, or their own blog, or some other new social-media platform that has so far escaped our notice. However, we note today that we have had our six-thousandth page view and over twenty-five hundred unique visitors from all over the world. (Not exactly big-time stuff, we know, but impressive to us.) Since folks have been so kind as to read Semiduplex—and we really do appreciate your time and generosity, dear readers—we wonder if we ought to reconsider the comment policy. And so we are. Thus, we may start enabling comments on selected posts (with some mild moderation controls) in the near future. (We will indicate the posts on which comments are enabled.)
In “Preces meae non sunt dignae,” we referred to the Dies irae as “a splendid old hymn.” It has been brought to our attention—by a source we respect very much and have quoted here from time to time—that this is not quite correct. The Dies irae is a sequence historically used in the Requiem. (This is, of course, why your copies of the Mozart and Verdi Requiems have settings of the Dies irae, for example.) It was dropped from its venerable position in the Mass in the Bugnini revisions, though, which is why it got transported over to the Liturgia Horarum as an optional hymn for the thirty-fourth week of Tempus Per Annum, according to the same source.
We regret the error, not least on account of who pointed it out.
Elliot Milco at The Paraphasic has a very thoughtful post called “Freaking Out about the Church.” His argument begins,
But I’d like to suggest that accusations of people “flipping out” or “coming unhinged” are sometimes used not as diagnoses of real defects in authors or their works, but as ways of marginalizing certain ideas. What are the standards for deciding that someone is “unhinged”? How do we know that someone’s writing is “nuts”? When is shrill polemic justified?
(Emphasis supplied.) He goes on to argue:
In a community which is on the margins by default, in which members are constantly confronting the mainstream, trying to explain themselves to it, and trying to reduce their separation from it, there is a silent question: Am I an extremist? Am I crazy? Have I gone beyond the pale? Different people deal with these questions in their own way, depending on their temperaments and intellectual habits. Some are truly indifferent to the matter. A few bask in their marginality, always trying to flaunt the expectations of the mainstream. But most set up little barriers in their mind. They pick out someone a bit further out than them and say, “Oh no, I am not extreme, that group is extreme. I am not irrational, that person is irrational.” In this way the marginalized person often has more hostility for the slightly-more-marginal group, than for the mainstream which is much more distant from his own stance.
(Emphasis supplied.) You should read the rest at The Paraphasic. The conclusions are startling, and need to be taken seriously.
For our part, we think that, were times different, it would be perfectly acceptable to engage in intense debates, which occasionally involve flamboyant rhetoric. So-and-so’s gone off the deep end. So-and-so’s a crypto-Modernist. And so forth. Under these circumstances, however, it may be more reasonable—it may be more appropriate—to circle the wagons. Tradition is already as marginalized as it has been in a long time. Tradition-minded Catholics marginalizing other tradition-minded Catholics seems extraordinarily counterproductive.