Tag: #bookreview

Diabolical

DIABOLICAL

A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma

Unless, like me, you’ve been under a rock for the last four years or so, you’ve probably heard of Milo Yiannopoulos.  I only learned of him about two years ago; it’s dark under those rocks.

Incendiary provocateur.  Conservative bomb thrower.  Flaming homosexual.  Ultra-orthodox Catholic.  Jewish neo-Nazi.  Bankrupt millionaire.  Pederast.  Or a victim.  Depending on who’s telling the story, they all fit to one degree or another.  Milo gives his legions of fans-and enemies-plenty of ammo. He’s written several best selling books. His speaking engagements are usually mobbed.   Before they turn into riots.  Tech-meister of the universe, he’s been banned by Facebook and Twitter.

Admission Against Interest

On one thing, everyone agrees:  Milo “married” his African-American boyfriend in 2017.  But then he writes a book, Diabolical, about how Pope Francis betrayed the Catholic Church by turning over the Vatican to its gay, Lavender Mafia.  How do you figure this guy out?  Not, certainly, by reading the book’s dedication:  “This book, like all my books, is for my husband, John, who has promised not to read Chapter 2.”

And, to be honest, probably not by reading it the way I have.  I’ve taken to listening to audio books while I drive around-radio has completely lost its charm for me.  Somehow, Diabolical recently came up on my library provided Hoopla app as a suggested book.  And, having heard of Milo, but knowing almost nothing about him other than what an occasional link on Drudge says about a college riot that one of his appearances triggered, I downloaded and listened to the book.

So, should you listen to what turns out to be a complex and closely argued book while driving?  Maybe.  Probably works for an impressionistic, 40,000 foot overview.  But down in the weeds?  Not so much.  So, you might want to take this post with a grain of salt.

But despite that, and to my own astonishment, Milo turned out to be nothing like the merry, but superficial conservative prankster who’d taken up residence in my consciousness.  The book’s profoundly substantive.  It delves deeply into the lore and doctrine of the Catholic Church.  Especially, Pope Francis.  And the institution’s and the Pope’s tortuous, and tortured, interaction with homosexuality.

Go Figure

But the most puzzling aspect of the book?  And there’s really no room for doubt on this score.  Milo writes from the perspective of a devout, Catholic traditionalist.  Moreover, he makes no effort to reconcile his personal conduct with his Catholic beliefs-he runs silent, runs deep on that one.

Milo launches the book with an extended quotation from that bête noire of liberal Catholics, Joseph Ratzinger, the now retired Pope Benedict XVI:

“Is not the Church simply the continuation of God’s deliberate plunge into human wretchedness; is she not simply the continuation of Jesus’ habit of sitting at the table with sinners, of his mingling with the misery of sin to the point where he actually seems to sink under its weight?  Is there not revealed in the unholy holiness of the Church, as opposed to man’s expectation of purity, God’s true holiness, which is love, love that does not keep its distance in a sort of aristocratic, untouchable purity but mixes with the dirt of the world, in order thus to overcome it?”

A Good Milo Introduction?

Diabolical is only one of several best sellers that Milo has authored.  And it might not be your cup of tea.

But perhaps these chapter titles might spark your interest.  Or make you sufficiently pissed off to take a peek.  Is The Pope Catholic?  Feminism Is Spiritual Cancer.  No?  Well, how about this one?  Make The Vatican Straight Again.  

In any event, love him or hate him, Milo’s not a lightweight that can be easily dismissed out of hand.  And, before you show up at the next Milo inspired college riot, it might make sense to find out what all the ruckus is about.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s A Clean, Well Lighted Place

750x450 a clean well lighted place

And Then There’s Family Promise

No less a literary titan than James Joyce once described Ernest Hemingway’s short story, A Clean, Well Lighted Place, as ” … masterly. Indeed, it is one of the best short stories ever written…”

And there was a time when, as a youth who aspired to write the mythic “great American novel”, I would have unquestioningly agreed; I was a big fan of anything by Hemingway. However, I’m now, at best, ambivalent about the author.  Like many of his stories, booze and “nada” are central to A Well Lighted Place.  Which, I suppose, isn’t surprising given the horrors that Hemingway and the 40 million other members of his “Lost Generation” endured in the trenches of World War I.

But I was reminded of the story last Saturday as I was waited in a clean, well lighted place, i.e., my church, to shuttle a van full of homeless Denverites to their next stop in the Family Promise program.  And, it is to be hoped, their next stop on a road that will eventually lead them out of homelessness and to a place they can call home.

What they do.  And how they do it.

750x450 family promise

Started in 1982 from a businesswoman’s chance encounter with a homeless woman, Family Promise has grown into a national organization engaging 180,000 individual volunteers and 6,000 faith congregations.

On several occasions during the year, our church hosts families referred to us by the organization.  The accommodations are anything but fancy, but they’re clean and well lighted and safe.  Teams of volunteers feed our guests.  The bathrooms include showers.

During the day, families stay at a downtown Denver location where long term planning for employment, housing and financial stability are the focus.  It was my job, this time, to drive the van to that location.  On previous occasions my wife and I have helped provide dinner.

You can lead a horse . . .

I’ve lived in Denver my entire life.  And there’s little doubt that I’ve been blessed.  So, I’m certainly not as well acquainted with the tougher side of life with which others are familiar.

But sheltered existence or not, no-one who drives around town can miss the countless beggars and panhandlers that are seemingly a permanent fixture on so many street corners.  This is particularly noticeable to me because I remember seeing few, if any, of these people growing up here.

I hope that Family Promise can make a dent in the problem.  Especially for those-and you’ve seen them as well-who have kids sitting by their side as the mother (don’t think I’ve ever seen a man doing it) holds out a hand to cars at the red light.

But I fear that making a dent in the problem will be tougher, and more complex, than we imagine.  One of the issues that defies easy solution is the deinstitutionalization of individuals with mental illness.  This “reform” may have seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  And relieved severe over crowding at Pueblo’s state hospital.   But how many of those patients wound up begging on street corners?  And not really interested, or able, to lead lives off the street?

I don’t know.  I just know what I can do.  And invite you to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But there came a time, after I became a Christian, that I soured on Hemingway.  His nihilistic atheism.  His misogyny and the way he treated women as mere objects.  His he-man bravado on African safaris and lion hunts.  And the tough guy bravado in the many war stories he wrote from personal experience.  And, finally, the alcohol and even binge drinking that played into so many of his novels.