Monday, April 24, 2017

Interview of the Bear on Judging Angels

Please examine the elements of the
cover carefully. They are each there for
a reason. Do not say you were duped by
the Bear into thinking you were
buying a Pooh book.
Q: When will Judging Angels be published, and who is the publisher?
A: If they made wristwatches big enough to fit on the wrists of Bears, the Bear would be looking at his. Hope and Life Press.
Q: Once and for all, who really wrote Judging Angels?
A: The same intelligence, wit and style behind this ephemeris is behind Judging Angels.
Q: What genre is Judging Angels?
A: All of the above. [Audience light flashes: "Laugh."] It has been marketed as a "psychological thriller," and "urban fantasy." But it also has elements of crime, mystery, police procedural, soft science fiction, adventure, and even romance. Perhaps it is best to say that a family and the criminal justice system meet something very difficult to digest. The "secret ingredient" is theological, however. Whatever loud explosions and bright lights are going off to distract readers, the heart of Judging Angels is God. Think of it as a cross between C.S. Lewis and Raymond Chandler.
Q: How would that work?
A: Dames and guns, see, but in the service of the Church and souls.
Q: That seems like it would be hard to make work.
A: Yeah? Well, not for a Bear, see? And not for any characters who are "not from around here" as they prefer to say, wink wink. Mostly it's dark, but it is well-lubricated by mordant humor. The purpose is to throw some ordinary people into the midst of various temptations and see what happens. And laugh at them. Here's a hint: [Bear shakes head sadly]. While the details might be fanciful, the principles are frighteningly realistic. Let's just say, you'll probably put the book down thinking about getting into Confession.
Q: What do you mean by that?
A: There are consequences to every decision. Don't come looking for cheap grace or the kind folks of Bedford Falls to come and bail out poor old George Bailey. There is a reason there needs to be a lot of humor. It deals with serious things like exactly how everyone is going to Hell. That's what's really scary, not a throat getting slit or something. (Hypothetical example... if that means what the Bear thinks; but it happens to people!)
Q: How does it compare with The Brothers Karamazov?
A: A lot more laughs. Um, Bear forgets. How many people got shot in that book?
Q: The Godfather?
A: Um, how many people got shot in that one?
Q: Obviously, you're joking, right?
A: Yeah. Joking.
Q: What audiences is Judging Angels suitable for?
A: That's a good question. A Hell of lot fewer than the Bear thought before this interview. Just kidding, just kidding. It is not as bad as the Book of Judges, to put things in perspective. It deals with things like maybe shooting people, and near occasions of sin. Oh, also strangling people. And maybe a pitchfork. That's it... okay: knife. I'm not going to give everything up. Some of the violence is what we call "off scene." Nothing explicit. Bear took all that out. Actually, some stuff was taken out, and 'explicit' is hard to define, but the Bear will say there is nothing tasteless. No Bear attacks. Although that's a great idea. It may not be too late for that. Maybe fraternizing with supernatural beings of uncertain origin, like redheads. [Audience light flashes: "Laugh."]
Q: Anything besides violence?
A: There are dark themes such as suicide, and human mating rituals, but this is published by a very respectable publishing house, after all. Tough to write about human behavior while keeping it all innocent. Even Goldilocks was a felon. The Bear writes what he knows about, except no salmon, and no honey. It has some language C.S. Lewis probably didn't use too much, but you've probably heard worse in the Marine Corps. Besides, the Bear thinks one character is responsible for nearly all of it. And it isn't the Marine. Sin and damnation is grownup stuff. It's not for pre-teens.
Q: Do you have a favorite character?
A: Sure. The one on the cover. Seriously, the Bear thinks most of them would be best as a meal. Two she-bears eating everyone wouldn't be a bad ending. The 15-year-old has the best lines and the worst parents ever, so you got to kind of like him. There's a six-year-old who is pretty harmless. In this book.
Q: Can you tell us anything about the plot?
A: Sure. The easiest-to-kidnap member of the family gets kidnapped, and everybody nearly sets aside their various issues to try to rescue her. (Watch the trailer) But that is the least important thing going on, which is the big joke that everybody but the main characters get. Oh, I forgot something. Tarot readings.
Q: What about them?
A: There are some, but done by the bad guys. Let's just say, they don't help. Oh.
Q: What?
A: That made me think of something else. Maybe someone else gets shot... at... urm... But there is a strong anti-violence message. The message is violence is bad, and stuff. It doesn't solve anything. Also a strong gun responsibility message. Guns are bad, but if you have to use them, do so safely. And effectively. Also, there is a strong softball bat responsibility message, and same goes for that wicked-looking thing in your grandpa's toolshed whose name you don't know. Look, bad guys do bad things. The author was a death penalty defense lawyer, for Pete's sake! And a Bear, who has, let's call them issues with firearms and humans, okay? And redheads. One redhead, he means. His driver, bodyguard, factotum and lawfully wedded wife under the Munich Bear Exception, Red Death.
Q: Aren't you afraid of controversy coming out with a Catholic novel like you've described?
A: Oh, so you haven't read the Bear's ephemeris! No. Nobody is going to order Judging Angels thinking it was Pilgrim's Progress for Catholics. The Bear believes you have to take risks, and Catholic fiction should not live on its own National Forest Reserve. You would have to reach to find something to be offended at, unless you're a Baptist, but even so, the Bear has always considered Judging Angels a mainstream novel with characters dealing with human problems that have eternal consequences. The Bear certainly hopes no one would have to be Catholic to enjoy this book, or find value in it. It will resonate most strongly with Catholics, though. And Bears. And guys who like redheads and guns. With everyone, really.
Q: Thank you for making yourself available for this exclusive interview.
A: You're very good. It was almost like interviewing myself.
[Audience light flashes: "Applause."]

The comments reflect the opinions and humor of the Bear, and his for-human-purposes persona "Tim Capps", and not necessarily those of the publisher.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bear's Prediction: Francis Will Leave Little Legacy

A rhumba of rattlesnakes. (Yes, that is what it is called.)
The Vatican may be a rhumba of rattlesnakes, but too few of them are motivated by aberrant ideology to risk a repeat of Sampson's after-dinner show for the Philistines.

Bear predicts there will be the usual polite language when Bergoglio go-goes, but inside, most prelates are going to be saying, "Boy, did we elect the wrong guy. How could we have been so stupid? Let's get back to normal ASAP before the Bear hops a tramp salmon freighter and cleans house, but good."

The Bear does not think the institutional Church enjoys turmoil. Nor does it wish to court schism, however small the risk. And, who knows? Perhaps there are 10 righteous men in Sodom-on-the-Tiber.

The next pope will be a reliable Italian. This whole darts-at-a-map thing has not worked out very well. His job will be to settle the hens down after that fox Bergoglio is gone. The era of the magisterium of the sound byte will be over. Everybody has seen what a disaster it has been.

Nobody likes to be made fun of incessantly.

There will be the usual suspects agitating, but the Bear repeats, institutions do not enjoy chaos. The mainstream plus the faithful will out-vote the cardinals of questionable orthodoxy.

The Bear does not think Bergoglio was voted in over a desire to extend Holy Communion to divorced and remarried persons. The Bear thinks he was elected to be the outsider that would fix things. Perhaps he even ran for pope on that platform. "I'm from Argentina. And if there's one thing that Argentina is known for it is fixing problems with institutions."

Bergoglio is a little man. He has done what many little men have done when given a big office. He has strutted around like Generalissimo Peron while telling us descamisados how humble he is. The last thing the next pope will want to hear is, "...carrying on the reform of the Church begun by Pope Francis..."

There is a contrary scenario, however. While the institution does not enjoy turmoil, it enjoys popularity. If Bergoglio is perceived to be a populist who made the Church relevant again, we might get someone similar in style. Even so, the Bear still has to believe orthodoxy is going to count at the next conclave.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Can Francis Destroy the Church?

Bears have a saying: "A bee on the end of your nose is big." Meaning, when we're focused closely on something, it is easy for things to look bigger than they are.

The quick answer to Can Francis Destroy the Church is probably not. This moves us to the second question: Can Francis Destroy the Papacy. That's a closer question.

The tools the Bear has are practical ones developed over centuries to smoke out liars. One of the most important of these is simple the assessment of credibility. It's a seat-of-your-pants skill we all use. It may seem like bootstrapping, because, after all, determining credibility is supposed to be the result of inquiry in court. Yet most people can size up someone pretty quickly and surprisingly accurately. Credibility is the short-cut to knowing if a witness is telling the truth in particulars.

Once you decide someone is not worthy of your belief, his credibility is shot, and you don't need to worry about whether the streetlight was out at the time he said he clearly saw the nighttime murder across the street. Liars lie, buh-bye.

The Bear alludes to the greatest engine for determining the truth known to mankind - cross examination. Exposing bad testimony in particular answers is fine, and a good cross is darned near unbeatable (except by a truthful witness not playing games).

Ah, just the name is charged with drama and tinged with more than a little fear. Cross examination is seldom fun for the witness. Especially when he is being cross examined by a Bear.

You might catch a witness in an outright falsehood. That would certainly put a ding in his believability. You might learn that he is legally blind without his glasses, which were sitting broken on top of his TV as he peered out the window, or he was in Las Vegas when the crime was committed back in Peoria.

Or, you might just observe the witness and listen to the little fibs and accumulation of backtracks. Then, maybe you learn he's a convicted felon who is the best friend of the alternate suspect. A pattern builds up over time and one can can conclude this:

"This person is simply not the truth-telling sort of man I'm going to pay much attention to in this important matter." There is no recovering in the eyes of the jury from losing credibility.

The Pope of Rome is unique among all people in that his job is to speak the truth, and only the truth, but, moreover, he is preserved from error by a whole lot of complicated rules that we can forget about for our purposes. Unless someone cares to explain why it's okay for the Pope to avoid the truth on important matters such as communion for the divorced and remarried as long as he doesn't have his lucky rabbit's foot in his pocket, the Bear does not draw nice distinctions in the age of the magisterium of the sound byte.

So when a sentient Catholic must concede the obvious - Pope Francis is not telling the truth - it matters. Big time. After all, if the Pope can spend his entire papacy running around contradicting Jesus and shoveling untold millions of souls into Hell (maybe), what good is he? And if the signature office of the Catholic Church is worse than useless, what else did those devious medieval clerics dupe us about?

If Pope Francis had not already said Martin Luther was right, the Bear might suspect he was. As it is, the opposite of whatever our Pope says is a veritable rock of the faith.

So, is it time to stock up on Jack Chick tracts and hit the hallelujah highway? This is really another way of coming at a favorite theme of the Bear: cognitive dissonance. Catholics are being required to believe two opposite things at the same time. The Bear doesn't know about you, but that gives the Bear a headache. A headache and a craving for human flesh.

So what's the answer? Stay tuned, but feel free to try your hand.

Update

The Bear has been busy. He will be glad to be able to return to regular blogging.

Editing goes back-and-forth like a tennis match. Bear gets an edited manuscript, marks it up and sends it back, then awaits the return volley. The Bear has just submitted his final edit. In other words, as far as the Bear is concerned, Judging Angels is finished.

Bear will get it back one last time. When he's happy with it (and he should be, by now) that's it. You may fire when ready, Gridley.

Since this is a series, the Bear has been thinking about a name for that. All the ones he wanted were already taken. (Dante Chronicles - taken.) There are "The Red Files," or "The Rubricatae Files." There is also "The Return of the Firstborn," or "The Firstborn Chronicles."

Comments welcome.

More than a few folks volunteered to be readers, but did not get back to the Bear. The Bear wants you to know that's fine. It's a long book, and things are much less rough now than they were then. Not everyone likes urban fantasy. Whatever the reason, the Bear says heavy attrition is expected and  he does not take it personally.

The Bear would hate for old friends to feel they could not post  because of some reason or another.     

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Checkers Lives!

We had thought old Reynard the Fox had inflicted a death blow upon our brave rooster, Checkers. He  did valiantly fight the fox, giving his hens time to escape to safety. However, with some TLC from his girls, he survived. His crow, however, will never be the same. It is now a drawn-out croak, instead of a ringing challenge to darkness and foxes.

ODE TO A ROOSTER

Croak with pride, thou Auroura's falcon,
who purpleth the sky with thine enemies' blood,
thou dost not show thy wounds, but singeth.
Chicken thou never wert.

Revolutionaries or Thieves?

When we hear the account of the crucifixion of Jesus, some might be surprised to learn that Jesus was crucified between two "revolutionaries," instead of the traditional thieves.


Let's look at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's New American Bible (Revised Edition), the Vulgate, the Douay Rheims Bible, and the original Greek.

NABRE (and Lectionary):
"Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left." New American Bible. (2011). (Revised Edition., Mt 27:38). Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Vulgate (the Latin word latrones means brigands, robbers, highwaymen):
"Tunc crucifixi sunt cum eo duo latrones: unus a dextris, et unus a sinistris." Biblia Sacra juxta Vulgatam Clementinam. (2005). (Ed. electronica., Mt 27:38). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Douay Rheims Bible (a translation of St. Jerome's Vulgate):
"Then were crucified with him two thieves: one on the right hand and one on the left." The Holy Bible, Translated from the Latin Vulgate. (2009). (Mt 27:38). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
Other translations have "bandits" (Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition) or "robbers" (New Revised Standard Version).

The original Greek is λῃσταί, or lestai. It comes from a root meaning "booty." The Greek word in the original Gospel manuscript simply meant "robber." It is probably closer to our word "brigand," as in one of a band of robbers, not a lone mugger. "Thief," is not the best translation, however, because a thief can be a shoplifter or embezzler. Brigands often killed people. It is quite possible that the criminals crucified next to Jesus were murderers. (In St. Luke's Gospel, one of them -- described as "criminals" -- even admits that they were being justly punished for their crimes, hardly the words of a martyred freedom fighter.)

Some provincial funerary inscriptions from Roman times record that the dead were killed by latrones, i.e. brigands. Starting in the 1950's, leftist scholars began arguing that these well-to-do Romans had been killed by "revolutionaries," anti-imperialist freedom fighters.

Since the Roman province of Judea was a hotbed of rebellion, the NABRE translators decided that these latrones, λῃσταί (lestai) -- brigands -- must have been Jewish zealots who were rebelling against the Romans. They departed from the traditional translation and came up with the eccentric "revolutionaries."

They may have been freedom fighters, or just murderous brigands, or some combination. But the actual Greek does not compel a translation to "revolutionaries." Indeed, there are other Greek words that could have been used had St. Matthew intended to convey that idea.

The NABRE is usually a close and reliable translation from the original languages. The Bear believes in this particular instance, however, translators read something into the text that is not there.

As for why the USCCB would want to put Jesus between two revolutionaries on Calvary, your guess is as good as the Bear's.

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