Her name is like the rain-perfumèd air
Of summer on a lost and winsome day:
I breathe it and am free of every care,
I say it and want nothing more to say.

Her name is laden like the honeycomb
Whose sweetness penetrates the yielding depth
Of all my soul, and, like the thought of home,
To think on her consoles and eases breath.

Her intercessions lift the weight of sin,
And just as wax doth melt before the flame,
Or as a frown dissolves into a grin,
All darkness flees before her holy name.

Maria! Be thy name at life’s eclipse
The final sound that leaves my dying lips.

© Joseph Charles MacKenzie

 

Joseph Charles MacKenzie is a traditional lyric poet, the only American to have won Scottish International Poetry Competition. His poetry has appeared in The New York Times, The Scotsman (Edinburgh), The Independent (London), US News and World Report, Google News, and many other outlets. He writes primarily for the Society of Classical Poets (New York) and Trinacria (New York). MacKenzie has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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121 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    WOW!!!

    Joseph Charles, this is spectacular!

    And who would ever thought of rhyming “sin” and “grin”?

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      I would like to thank Mr. Mantyk for publishing this poem, whose title is that of today’s Feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, instituted by Pope Innocent XI to celebrate the victory of Christians against the Muslim Turks at the Siege of Vienna in 1683.

      For, the Muslim attacks against our nation on September 11, 2001, were poorly timed, taking place on the vigil, namely, of a feast that reminds the world that the enemies of Christ are to be crushed under the foot of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, in the case of the Holy League at the gates of Vienna in 1683, by simply invoking her name.

      Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Mr. Hollywood, your comment goes directly to the motives of the poem. “Hyperdulia” is an obligation of veneration which the public owes to the Blessed Virgin Mary in view of her unique status as the Mother of God, while our petitions, in view of the same status, are best delivered through her whom God Himself obeys.

      Reply
  2. Bruce Wren

    As always, an exemplar poem of classical beauty. I have been receiving many of Mr McKenzie’s other sonnets in this new series, and I consider most of them even better than the one posted here. A first class poet, rarely seen and even more rarely read, in or contemporary times.

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      In his wonderful collection, “Fending Off the Dragon Fire,” (quite a bargain on Amazon these days) Bruce Wren has given us some excellent verses on the Blessed Virgin Mary and on many lyrical themes besides, some of the most lyrical poetry our generation has produced.

      Indeed, “Benedictum Nomen Mariae” is merely the opening sonnet of my larger sequence in progress, “Sonnets for Heaven’s Queen.”

      Reply
  3. James Sale

    A wonderful poem, and as I have often observed, Mr Mackenzie is also a master of those build-up, brilliant last lines that compress it all. Great.

    Reply
  4. Mark Stone

    Mr. MacKenzie, Hello. I would change the comma in L3 to a period or semi-colon, delete the comma after “soul” in L7, and change “on” to “of” in L8. I like the internal rhyme (Maria! Be) and the triple end rhyme (I-ee-ips) in LL 13 & 14. I assume you’re intending to say: “May thy name, at life’s eclipse, be the final sound that leaves my dying lips.” However, as LL 13 & 14 are written, I stumbled over them. Notwithstanding these points, it is a marvelous poem. Well done!

    Reply
  5. Cecilia

    Beautiful poem in honour of Our lady’s name. Well chosen words that evoke sweet thoughts 🙂

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Thank you, Cecilia, for joining me in the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. I ask that you please pray for me as I continue to produce the “Sonnets for Heaven’s Queen.”

      Reply
  6. Damian Robin

    An unmediated ‘Wow’ to this – so musical, and definite, assured and assuring, your faith and devotion shining. Wonderful, and thank you for expressing your love publically.

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Against so many tiresome debates about originality, there is only one subject that is totally unique in every way, and that is the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is because of her uniqueness that she has generated the most original poetry in every nation that knows her.

      I will go ahead and say it: There is no such thing as poetry without the Blessed Virgin Mary. Not one of the great themes of poetry can be meaningful without her.

      The rest is empty prosody.

      Reply
      • Charlie Southerland

        Hmmm.

        MacKenzie,

        I’m pretty certain that Homer, Plato, Sappho, the rest of ancient Greece and the author of Gilgamesh would disagree with you, as do I.

        You are too full of yourself again. Perhaps a pin to pop your ego with?

        You promote radical Catholicism to your detriment. This is a poetry website, not a Jesuit Seminary.

        You seem to promote Mary over Jesus, which is heresy.

        Your third stanza presumes too much to be believable, even for this Calvinist. Get a grip.

  7. Bonnie S.

    Dear Mr. MacKenzie,

    Like so many others on this thread have expressed above, “Wow!” Many of the lines in your poem, in particular the last two, brought tears to my eyes when I first read them.

    As a Catholic, I grew up with a love of Jesus’ dear mother Mary. So, every word you have written in this stunning poem resonates with how we Catholics have always understood Our Lady’s role. We know the importance of her mediation, and are aware of how demons flee before her holy name. I am delighted to find our sacred Catholic doctrine expressed so perfectly in poetic form. I totally understand what you were saying when you stated that there is no poetry without Our Blessed Lady. After all, she is the mother of Jesus, and there is nothing more poetic than Him.

    You mention above that this is poem is part of a new book. Will the Society of Classical Poets be posting more of these? My friends and I would really love to read them and would gladly share them with others.

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Dear Bonnie,

      To answer you very kind question, every single poem and poet’s comment appearing in the SCP is a pure expression of that poet’s religion whether it be secular atheism or any one of 30,000 (and counting) man-made sects which have popped up since the 16th century. As the SCP has never had any problem allowing such a diversity of poets, poems, and comments, I am confident that future pieces from my work-in-progress, the “Sonnets for Heaven’s Queen,” will have a decent chance of appearing in this venue.

      I am very pleased that you also recognize Our Lady as a transformative figure in the history of western European poetry. I proudly stand by my statement that there is no poetry without her. Indeed, we would not have Dante’s Vita Nuova, and by extension the Divine Comedy, was it not for the Blessed Virgin Mary. The fact that the greatest of all western poets conflates the Blessed Virgin with Beatrice (by importation of a Troubadour development) is significant. We owe Shakespeare’s Portia in Merchant of Venice to our Virgin Most Prudent, especially as she asserts the doctrine of marriage as a sacrament in the famous casket scene.

      I could go on and on discussing Our Lady’s role in the transformation of poetry from the empty paganism of the Greeks (which Dante demonstrates in the Ulysses passage of the Inferno) to her special place in the Medieval “poésie courtoise,” including the great romances of Arthur. There is really no end to her influence. In short, poetry as we know it would not exist without her, just as salvation as we know it would exist without her.

      No Mary, no Christ. No wonder St. Augustin, one of the greatest fathers of the Christian Church—which, strictly speaking, is the Catholic Church—declared:

      “He does not have God as his father who does not have Mary as his mother.”

      Reply
      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        I left out a word. I meant to say: “In short, poetry as we know it would not exist without her, just as salvation as we know it would not exist without her.”

        So, for you, Bonnie, and your many friends, I can say that the “Sonnets for Heaven’s Queen,” taken together, will explore many aspects of Mariology, which is the science of Mary’s role in the economy of grace, the science of the Apostles.

      • Michael R. Burch

        Not to start a theological debate, but if there is no poetry before Mary, what about the poetry of the Old Testament, such as the Psalms and Song of Songs? What about Homer, Sappho, Basho and other ancient poets?

  8. Alistair

    Mr. MacKenzie,
    If you happen to find yourself anywhere near Glasgow, you would do yourself a bit of good to visit the Carfin Grotto just east, our national shrine with a reproduction of the grotto of Lourdes and many other features. You would enjoy the Reliquary Chapel with one of the largest collections of relics outside of Rome, hundreds and hundreds in reliquaries of every make, a major pilgrimage site for lovers of Mary.

    Reply
  9. Lew Icarus Bede

    1. Mr. MacKenzie’s poem is a fine Shakespearean sonnet; a few examples suffice:
    a. the adjective “rain-perfumèd” is a typical Shakespearean construct;
    b. the nice, simple similes, common in Shakespeare;
    c. the line is the basic metric and shows the typical Shakespearean ease;
    d. and the intensifying couplet.

    2. The message of the poem is unitary, and does (doth) not distract, despite Mr. Southerland’s protestations to the contrary. Mr. Hollywood has labeled it appropriately a “reverentially wonderful poem and supplication”.

    3. Mr. Stone’s comments about the rhymes were perceptive indeed, especially at the couplet. Even the slightest little poetic elements reveal Mr. MacKenzie’s artistry, as in his internal line-to-line echoic rhyme “soul/consoles”. I did think Mr. Stone’s grammatical comments were slightly off the Mark. For each change he should state his reason.

    4. I find Shakespeare’s character Portia, in “Merchant of Venice” is a much more nuanced figure than Mr. MacKenzie suggests on this thread; and I would argue against Mr. Mackenzie’s assertion of the “empty” paganism of the ancient Greeks, as Homer frequently points out the importance of devotion to the gods, and even the seemingly most ungodly Euripides, and Socrates in Plato’s dialogues, evince moments of genuine godly devotion.

    5. All people, hence, all poets, differ in their points of view, and even in one life-time attitudes can alter, do. It’s not that what is true has changed, but only what one sees, which never is complete, but ‘s plagued by partialities. As human vision ‘s limited, it is incumbent on each individual to tolerate what they seem [sic] wrong. It is, therefore, important to agree to disagree for knowledge to accrue, for wisdom to gain realty. But this is not an easy task, since this outlook is skewed, as must be every view we have whenever it is viewed.

    Reply
  10. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    Dear Mr. Bede,

    Full disclosure: I think I have long ago ceased to emulate Shakespeare—and this is not to contradict what you say—in a conscious manner. It is rather more a question for me of what I think fits his form best, but this is more of a habitus than a decision each time. My main concern, because I write for the voice, is always euphony.

    I recommend to one and all Joseph Pearce’s “Through Shakespeare’s Eyes” and “The Quest for Shakespeare.” These books have initiated the Catholic critique of our very Catholic Shakespeare.

    As for the pagans, Socrates himself found their piety empty, one of the reasons he was tried. I have a poem integrating the Euthephro on this very subject. It was a dialogue we all had to read in the Greek in college.

    St, Paul does say that the gods of the pagans are demons. And really, Dante’s Ulysses passage in the Inferno sets forth precisely what should be the attitude of a Christian to Homer. The whole Divine Comedy is a complete, radical transformation of what we mean by the word “epic,” a repudiation of Homer to say the very least.

    Gilgamesh and Beowulf are not poems, they are brutalities in verse. They have no more substance than the video game movies kids watch in the theatre these days—and there are academics in American Studies departments spilling (and wasting) ink on those too.

    Reply
    • Lew Icarus Bede

      1. I agree that Mr. MacKenzie is striving for euphony and his style uses Shakespearean techniques, but he does not catch the dramatic Shakespearean line. He admits to not striving for it.

      2. Shakespeare’s dramas show he was more focused on ancient Greek and Roman pagan figures than he was on Christian figures, partly out of political necessity, for in his time, as in ours, having certain ideas can be dangerous for one’s health.

      3. The still unanswered, central question in the “Euthyphro” is What is (το όσιον) piety, what is holy?

      4. The self-absorbed Dante misses Homer’s grander vision, and ironically, Vergil’s intense condensation. Still I agree, with T. S. Eliot, that Shakespeare and Dante reign supreme in the last 1000 years, each having talents the other lacks. On the other hand, I would point out that Dante has not transformed everyone’s idea of epic—”to say the very least” mine; and I admit to admiring Milton’s epical “Paradise Lost”, despite the disparaging remarks that occasionally come to these literary strands.

      5. “Beowulf” is no “Divine Comedy” but it is an epic poem; and I am thankful for the Christian scholar who transcribed the work, and John Cotton who bequeathed the lone surviving manuscript to the English nation. It is mildly noteworthy as to how many Postmodern English writers hearken back to its lines.

      Reply
      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        Dante’s vision encompasses Hell, Purgatory, Heaven, God, Christ, divine and human history, sin and redemption, Sacred Doctrine, and moral theology.

        And you say, and I quote: “Dante misses Homer’s grander vision.”

        Please excuse me and don’t take this personally, but it occurs to that anti-Catholic bigotry must be truly blinding. Shakespeare is really a Greek and Dante a narcissist.

        And somehow I am the one who needs constant correction.

        I think that just about says it all, doesn’t it.

    • Michael R. Burch

      Was there no poetry in the Old Testament, which predates Mary by hundreds to thousands of years?

      Were the poets and prophets of the Bible thus pagans incapable of poetry?

      Has there ever been a bloodier or more brutal book that the Bible? It concludes with a prophecy in the book of Revelation that after all the creatures of the earth have sung the praises of God, they will be slaughtered by the trillions at the hands of the greatest serial killers of all time: Jesus and the Angels.

      Where do we find something to match that in pagan poetry?

      Reply
      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        Yes, there is a book which is infinitely more violent and bloody than the Old Testament, and that is the Book of the Deeds of Socialism.

        Yes, all the various categories of biblical books, from history to prophecy to sapiential to proverbial to poetic to messianic contain references to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

        Outstanding example: The Protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15.

        The poetical books of the Holy Scriptures are true poetry. The Old Testament is a shadow, or prefiguration of the New.

        One reason Protestants enjoy my work (I write for all men whatever their beliefs) is because it is highly scriptural.

  11. Joseph S. Salemi

    Charlie, you are a good friend but you are making a lot of mistaken assumptions here about MacKenzie and Catholicism in general.

    First off, as a non-Catholic you are likely unaware of the ferocious fight that is currently going on in our Church. The current usurping occupant of the See of St. Peter, the obnoxious, pro-homosexual, and deeply ignorant Jorge Bergoglio, is NOT the Pope. Not by a long shot. He is a flagrant heretic, a promoter of left-liberal lies, a Peronista fascist with a severe power-complex, ans a protector of perverts. He is no more a Catholic than the Dalai Lama.

    Second, there is a huge problem (the direct result of stupid decisions made after the Vatican 2 Council) with a vicious, careerist, and vile homosexual network within the Church hierarchy and its priesthood. Despite the heroic efforts of many traditionalist Catholics to publicize the problem and to root it out, the task is huge — like cleaning out the Augean stables. Child-molestation is only a sideshow; the vast majority of abuse cases involve ecclesiastical superiors sexually harassing young men and even seminarians. The mainstream media won’t admit this (all they talk about is “children”), since mainstream media outlets are politically forbidden to mention adult homosexual encounters in any context that is negative. Faggots are now a protected class in the United States.

    Third, MacKenzie has the right to pen and publish whatever kind of poetry he likes, and to defend it in whatever way he sees best. Why are you always picking a fight with him? It simply makes no sense — we are allies in a fight to destroy left-liberalism, whether we are Protestant or Catholic or whatever. Let’s keep our guns aimed at the scum, not our fellow soldiers.

    Reply
    • Charlie Southerland

      Dear Joe–

      I’ve been aware and up to date about the current socialist pope and his hand-picked cabal for some time. He is a disgusting aberration to the Catholic Church and its many fine members. Although I am not a Catholic, I sympathize with well-meaning and righteous Catholics. I have many good and close-held friendships with them, including you.

      Mr. Mckenzie certainly has a right to his opinion, but we differ on doctrine, obviously. He equates all who do not profess the Catholic way to be “Pagans”. That is also an opinion that he has a right to. However, I have a right to defend the Faith however I am guided by God according to the scripture. His rhetoric is inexcusable here, as mine also might be. There are many Protestants who read and write poetry as well. Mr. McKenzie sees this as an opportunity to, shall we say, stick it in our eye. I don’t appreciate it. In fact, I deplore it. So do others. After I had my say up the line here, I had no more to say. I made my point. I could care less if anyone agrees with it.

      Chances are, If we were to stand side by side, we would fight for each other, regardless of our doctrine, against the enemies of Christ, namely the Leftists, Socialists and all their associated ilk. Never mistake my aim, Joe. It is always true.

      Any declarations regarding my faith will not be accepted by a radical Catholic. If you think I am wrong, you are free to email mail me any time. I have already counted the cost of this.

      As always, your friend and brother in Christ,

      Reply
      • Michael R. Burch

        Unless I am mistaken, Dr. Salemi’s real position (complete and utter disdain for the Protestant religion and its teachings) can be found in this poem:

        https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-missionary-s-position/

        In all my many communications with Dr. Salemi through the years, I never heard him say one good word or even anything neutral about Protestants or their religion. He spoke of Protestants in the same acid tones with which he speaks of liberal scum and feminist bitches. He informed me in no uncertain terms that I am bound for hell, not being a Catholic. As I understand Catholicism, although I’m not an expert by any means, only people who partake of the Catholic sacraments can be saved, so all Protestants are lost. If I’m wrong, someone please feel free to correct me.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      The historical foundation of liberalism and its myriad offspring—socialism, communism, fascism, and secular atheism is the so-called Reformation. This is not a matter of opinion, but historical fact.

      The common hallmark of all these movements is the perversion of meaning in language. The reason marriage is constantly being redefined in our Puritan society is because Martin Luther opened that door in the 16th century, redefining marriage as an act of clerical hypocrisy as opposed to a divine sacrament. He even famously redefined the word “good” to mean “bad.”

      Hence, Chelsea Clinton, a Protestant of the same Lutheran-Calvinist mold, has redefined the murder of children in their mothers’ wombs as an “act of Christian charity.” Barack Obama “evolved” into the Protestant position he held all along, namely that homosexuality is not a sin, but a right.

      Indeed, the very term “Reformation” is an example of perverted meaning: Completely wiping out a thing is not the same as “reforming” it. And this same perversion of meaning is again reflected in Obama’s socialist phrase “transforming society,” when he actually means annihilating it.

      It is a paradox of the most grotesque kind that Puritan liberals, such as the one who just attacked me, do not embrace the homosexual sect of Vatican II which merely institutionalizes their own false doctrines.

      The very reason why the sect of Vatican II has a homosexual “clergy”—with invalid rites and ordinations—is because it is precisely mirrors the revolution begun by the Reformation.

      Another hallmark of Puritan liberalism is the labeling of anyone who disagrees with it as “radical.” Hence, mainstream Americans who elected Donald Trump are labeled as “far right,” “atl-right,” even “racist.”

      Let’s be men and let’s be real here. I have been vivaciously attacked on this and many other threads in this venue for one reason and one reason only: because I am a Catholic who refuses to be silenced.

      Reply
      • Michael R. Burch

        So do you think Protestants will go to hell? Or will everyone (or at least all believers) be saved in the end so that differences in religious dogma ultimately didn’t matter?

        Was it, in the end, much ado about very little, perhaps?

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Dear Dr. Salemi, Please see my reply to your wonderful comment below.

      Reply
    • Charlie Southerland

      Dear Dr. Salemi–

      Since July 29th, a year ago, I’ve commented exactly once, on Tommy Robinson’s incarceration, regarding J.C. M’s work. Once. It was a positive comment, of sorts. I have refrained from commenting on his work because I didn’t think it productive for the site to always be in a roil due to my comments. I don’t care for much of his work in any case because there is an air of falsehood, a smell that is rank to my hearing when I read him.

      Hopefully, I can refrain from commenting on someone’s work whom I loathe, no matter what he has to say. That is the best that I can do. Someday, what I’m saying will be borne out. Remember.

      Reply
  12. Bonnie S.

    Hello Mr. MacKenzie,

    My apologies for the late response, as I was doing my Sunday duties today. I just wanted to ask: Do you have a time frame for publishing the Sonnets for Heaven’s Queen, and how many poems do you plan to include in the sequence? By the way, you might be amused to know that I have shared the present sonnet with my priest, and his response was also “Wow”. There seems to be a trend going on here!

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Dear Bonnie,

      Just an aside for your information. If you are in the Untied States and are wary of purchasing through Amazon, you might consider supporting good old fashioned brick-and-mortar retailers through our nation’s largest consortium of independent bookstores, IndieBound. In the following link, just put in your zip code for the nearest bookstore that carries Sonnets for Christ the King:
      https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781545623398

      If you are outside of the US, as far away as Australia or New Zealand (even Japan), then you will find plenty of online choices here:
      https://mackenziepoet.com/bookstore/

      All good wishes!

      Reply
      • Bonnie S.

        Thank you for this wonderful information. I have just made my purchase of the book and audio book and have sent the information along to my parish group!

  13. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    Dear Bonnie,

    Thank you, again, for your kind and, indeed, amusing response. I must say that “wow” is certainly in the air these days, as you suggest.

    But no, it does not surprise me about your priest, as I can assure you that many priests and even a number of bishops, already have the companion audiobook of Sonnets for Christ the King loaded in their car CD players or in their iphones (the eaudiobook is also available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc.). If this is something you wish to consider, I hope you will please take a little time to visit the MacKenzie Lyric Poetry site here: http://www.mackenziepoet.com.

    As for your question about the Sonnets for Heaven’s Queen, these will be the same in number as the seventy-seven Sonnets for Christ the King which was released last May. Dr. Joseph Salemi, in his review published in the last issue of Trinacria (New York), noted that this number is exactly half of Shakespeare’s sequence, thus affirming the influence of the Bard on my work. Others, including the British poet and critic James Sale have also discussed the numerology of the Sonnets.

    As for the time of completion, I can only say that Our Blessed Lady, whose intellect and will are both perfectly united to God’s, will have the answer which I am unable to give.

    Thank you so very much for your most welcome expression of interest the Lady Sonnets!

    Reply
  14. James Sale

    “Religion is at its best when it makes us ask hard questions of ourselves. It is at its worst when it deludes us into thinking we have all the answers for everybody else.” – Archibald Macleish

    Reply
      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        If there is a doctrine which claims to be universal, that is, having the answers for all men at all times everywhere, and if that claim can be shown by history to be true, that is elevating of men and societies, then that is a million time better than a doctrine that men can only have answers that apply to themselves.

        Luther actually rejected the idea of a universal doctrine. “Let no man stand between me and Gospels!” he wrote, meaning that every individual gets to just make things up.

        So, let’s take a good hard look at MacLeish’s doctrine, the doctrine of liberalism, the doctrine of George Soros, the EU, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

        How’s that workin’ for ya?

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Archibald MacLeish would not be the kind of authority a Christian poet would be proud to cite. Whitaker Chambers referred to him as a “fellow traveler” during his communist phase. MacLeish was involved in writers groups that would make a George Soros happy.

      And here is the problem with MacLeish’s statement. It already contains within it an “answer for everyone else” and quite a smug answer at that. For, it is nothing other than liberalism’s answer which can be translated thus:

      “The only answer is subjectivism whereby the individual is left without the aid of reason or revelation to simply make up whatever he wants about matters of faith and morals.”

      “Because Christ did not preach a doctrine that applies to all men everywhere.”

      If you have imbibed liberalism all your life, under whatever form, then the idea that Christ preached a universal, that is catholic, doctrine will be very difficult for you.

      Converts, however, frequently speak of the ills they suffered whilst living in MacLeish’s universe, where no one ever has an answer for anyone but themselves, the answer of radical self interest and the justification of vice.

      Yes, the Church has the answers for all men everywhere. But if you have been raised on the stone soup of liberalism all your life, your can only have a Pavlovian reaction of emotional revulsion to the reality that Christ preached a doctrine which has elevated not only the individual human soul, but every society on earth which has accepted it.

      And the irony is that the present moral state of Europe and America is the direct result of the liberal error that there is no universal doctrine of faith and morals that applies to all men of all times everywhere. Today, the old Catholic countries are one by one rejecting this liberal error.

      I have met many Protestants who accept the authority of the Creed of Nicea which states that the Church of Christ is “catholicos,” that is universal. There are many Protestants who are reading and enjoying the “Sonnets for Christ the King” even as I write.

      Reply
  15. Joseph S. Salemi

    Following Michael R. Burch in search of stupidity is like following a burning fuse in search of an explosion — one doesn’t have to wait very long.

    In his comment of September 21 (which I have just seen), he links to my sonnet “The Missionary’s Position.” That poem deals with the issue of proselytizing in general, and makes no mention of Protestantism at all.

    As usual, Burch either lies or has a memory lapse concerning what I have said about Protestantism. It is a heresy in all of its protean forms, but some forms of it are less pernicious than others. I have respect for the dogmatically coherent Protestant sects, such as the old-fashioned Lutherans, serious Calvinists, and the High-Church Anglicans. What I cannot stand is Low-Church yahoo Protestantism, of the sort represented by the Tennessee intellectual backwater from which Burch emerged.

    Burch is lying when he claims that I said he is bound for hell. No person has the right to make such a judgment about another person who is still alive. I have no idea where Burch is going — although from past history, it seems a good bet to me that Burch is most likely going to get more idiotic and dim-witted as time passes. Past is usually a prelude to the future.

    Reply
    • Michael R. Burch

      Methinks the laddie protests too much.

      I have never heard Dr. Salemi say anything positive about any Protestant sect. I have, however, heard him attack Protestants collectively on many occasions. I believe Salemi’s real views about Protestants and their beliefs can be found in his poems. For instance, “The Reformation” with lines like “Luther took a massive shit.” Anyone familiar with the “great divide” caused by Martin Luther can see what’s going on here. The Protestant reformation started with a “massive shit” and was followed by further exchanges of shit.

      Does Salemi believe the Protestant Reformation was a step forward, a step sideways, or a giant step backward? Everything he has ever said on the subject, of which I am aware, makes it clear that he sees the Reformation as a giant step backwards.

      I am not “lying” about Salemi telling me that I would go to hell. He informed me of my fate with what I took to be considerable glee, as did his partner Leo Yankevich.

      Salemi is already resorting to ad hominems. No surprise there.

      Reply
    • Michael R. Burch

      If I remember correctly, Norman Ball was a witness to Salemi and Yankevich telling me that I would go to hell. They sounded positively delighted with the prospect. We had been discussing religion and I had opined that Catholic popes were condemning poor people to suffer and die by calling it a “sin” to use condoms. It was an observation that did not go over well, to say the least.

      Reply
  16. Michael R. Burch

    But at least Salemi has admitted his disdain for the Protestant version of Christianity: “It is a heresy in all of its protean forms, but some forms of it are less pernicious than others.” Thus all Protestants are heretics, and what happens to heretics? The Roman Catholic Church once burned Protestant heretics at the stake, presumably because God was going to continue the job for all eternity. They were just giving him a head start. So what Salemi said himself jibes with what he told me when he said that I would go to hell.

    Reply
  17. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    Dear Mr. Burch,

    All I can tell you is that, for myself, I have observed among some “traditional” Catholics with whom I am personally acquainted here in New Mexico a certain “spirit of condemnation.”

    Any ascetic-mystical theologian will tell you that this spirit is usually the fruit of what is called “bitter zeal.”

    It is one thing to have a theological discussion and exchange arguments, it is another to pronounce a subjective judgment concerning the salvation of an individual human soul. The latter, in fact, is a sin. In other words, the spirit of condemnation in itself is an impediment to the salvation of one who is afflicted by it.

    Let me give you a more powerful example. Do you know that Catholic priests are not allowed to eulogize the dead at the Missa Requiem? It’s true. Why? Because, as stated above, this would be precisely a subjective pronouncement on the state of an individual soul.

    Any exorcist will tell you that taking relish in the condemnation of others is really a kind of prayer, a prayer to Satan who wills nothing more than the condemnation of souls.

    In normal times, you would never hear such condemnations from the mouth of a Catholic. Here is where sacramental theology comes in: Our tongues are blessed with holy salt at baptism. Only wisdom and goodness are to be heard from our tongues. This is also why it is a sin to curse.

    All these things are related.

    We even have a daily prayer:

    “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine.”

    Reply
    • Michael R. Burch

      Dear Mr. MacKenzie,

      I have seen similar “bitter zeal” in Protestant churches, along with a “spirit of condemnation.” I have always found compassion much more attractive.

      Reply
  18. Joseph S. Salemi

    Dear Joseph —

    It’s a waste of breath to argue with someone as theologically simple-minded as Michael Burch. He is a vicious anti-Catholic (see some of the stuff at his website), and a glandular left-liberal. He’s still licking his wounds over the last election, and the fact that I shellacked three separate times in public debate. It’s also clear he’s still very sore about that argument over Norman Ball’s essay at The Pennsylvania Review. Three years ago, and he can’t get over it!

    The level of his historical and religious naivete is clear from his assumption that I, as a traditionalist Roman Catholic, would somehow be afraid to admit that the Protestant Reformation was “a giant step backwards.” Yes, Mikey, it was a giant step backwards. That’s why we genuine Catholics call it the Protestant Deformation.

    Perhaps I am subject to “bitter zeal,” as Joseph MacKenzie says. But I’ll say this: since Mike Burch claims not to believe in hell, I hardly think he should be bothered one way or another about my views on the subject. My own opinion, however, is that Burch is still terrified of hell, as he admits he was when he was a little kid, and his mother warned him about how he might go there if he weren’t a good boy. He confesses that he cried himself to sleep over it.

    I guess deep down he’s still that little kid.

    Reply
    • Michael R. Burch

      Again we have confirmation from Dr. Salemi’s lips that I was correct and not “lying” about his attitude toward Protestants and the Reformation: “Yes, Mikey, it was a giant step backwards. That’s why we genuine Catholics call it the Protestant Deformation.”

      Yes, as a boy I did cry myself to sleep, not wanting to believe that billions of human beings could suffer forever in an eternal hell. It’s called having a human heart. Whatever happened to yours?

      No, I don’t fear such a place at all as an adult because, to quote the primary writer of the New Testament, I “put aside childish things.” Apparently Dr. Salemi insists on clinging to things he was taught as a child that have never made any sense. For instance, God is an enlightened being who demands bloody sacrifices and sends human beings to “hell” for not believing things that would make him the Devil. After 2,000 years, is that the best Christian theologians can come up with? Well, they have generated a lot of revenues; one must give them that.

      My opinion about “advanced” Christian theology — Catholic and Protestant — can be summed up in this not-so-advanced epigram of mine:

      If God
      is good
      half the Bible
      is libel.

      I figured that out independently at age 11, after reading the Bible from cover to cover.

      As for my my being “theologically simple-minded” … well, I do find it hard to have advanced theories about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I have a poem on that subject as well:

      What Would Santa Claus Say
      by Michael R. Burch

      What would Santa Claus say,
      I wonder,
      about Jesus returning
      to Kill and Plunder?

      For he’ll likely return
      on Christmas Day
      to blow the bad
      little boys away!

      When He flashes like lightning
      across the skies
      and many a homosexual
      dies,

      when the harlots and heretics
      are ripped asunder,
      what will the Easter Bunny think,
      I wonder?

      Reply
  19. Joseph S. Salemi

    So Mike Burch has a sentimental soft spot for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Yawn. How predictable. I suppose he loves Bambi too.

    And yes, Mikey, you are a liar. I said that the Protestant Deformation was evil — not that individual Protestants were. You seem to have an incorrigible incapacity to make simple distinctions.

    And stop quoting your own poems endlessly. It really is tasteless.

    Reply
    • Michael R. Burch

      Dr. Salemi, I will remind you that in an interview that we did that is still published online, you spoke of “stupid evangelical Protestant churches” and went on to say that “evangelical Protestants and American liberals share the same political and ideological DNA, in their itch to dictate and control. They are ‘sisters under the skin,’ as Kipling might have said.”

      So once again, I am not a “liar.” You were speaking about many millions of American Protestants and damning them as individuals and collectively.

      Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      How many people, including tens of thousands of Catholics, were murdered by the German Socialist Nationalist Party from 1933-1945, the atheist liberal hate group that promoted the very same ideas Mr. Burch embraces today?

      I would be interested to know how liberal atheists justify their long history of genocide.

      Reply
  20. Charlie Southerland

    So, my question is this: Does it matter whether the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants saves Mr. Burch from hell?”

    Reply
    • Michael R. Burch

      Good question. Why did Dr. Salemi and his partner Leo Yankevich so confidently inform me that I am bound for hell, and why did they seem so pleased at the prospect?

      Salemi calls the Protestant Reformation a “great step backwards” and the “Protestant Deformation.” He has a long history of speaking disdainfully of evangelical Protestants, equating them with liberals (whom he obviously hates and despises). In an interview that I did with Salemi that is still published online, he spoke of “stupid evangelical Protestant churches” and said “evangelical Protestants and American liberals share the same political and ideological DNA, in their itch to dictate and control. They are ‘sisters under the skin,’ as Kipling might have said.”

      So he wasn’t just talking about churches or theology. He was talking about the character of many millions of Protestants.

      During the days that I was on speaking terms with him, it sounded to me as if Salemi would have no problem with millions upon millions of American Protestants and Christian liberals going to hell. In fact, I had the distinct impression that he was all for it.

      Reply
      • Charlie Southerland

        Dear Michael–

        None of that matters. You are looking for a haystack to place needles in. The only question that is of import is: What will you do with Christ?

      • Michael R. Burch

        Dear Charlie,

        I think the critical question is: What will Christ do with me, if I reject the teachings of both the Catholic and Protestant churches because they make no sense to me? Will Christ punish me for using the brain that God presumably gave me, if there is a God? Would an enlightened being demand bloody sacrifices or demand that human beings guess which earthly religion is the correct one, then punish everyone who guesses wrong?

        While I see no reason to believe in Christ, if I was going to have faith in him, it would be that he is not a monster who sends human beings to hell for evil and ridiculous reasons. If there is a surprise at the end of life, it will be interesting to see what God does with Christians whose faith made him seem like the Devil.

        I will take my chances with not adopting a “faith” that turns God into the Devil.

  21. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    Dear Mr. Burch,

    A clarification. My ascetic-mystical response about bitter zeal has nothing to do with Dr. Salemi whom I esteem as one of the most important men of letters our nation has produced in recent years. I also know Dr. Salemi personally. He is nothing at all as you describe. I refuse to believe a word you have to say about anything at all.

    Rather, I had hoped that you might recognize you yourself in those whom I was referring to. A dignified response on your part might have been some brief reflection on the spirit of condemnation, which as your own words have proven, utterly enslaves you.

    If anything, I have been disappointed by the Catholic bashing you, Charlie Southerland and others behind the scenes have orchestrated in response to what amounts to a sonnet I composed in honor of God’s Most Holy Mother.

    Charlie Southerland was the first person on this thread to use the word heretic, which in our Catholic lexicon simply means a person who holds to a theological error—but as we see from his rather boorish responses, he has no formal education in theology and this is why he can only declare, as he did, his hatred and loathing. He is probably someone who has never given much thought to Christianity until the publication of my sonnet in this venue.

    What I am trying to say about you and your ilk, is that you all suddenly morph into giants of theology or philosophy when I happen to publish a poem. Otherwise, you go on leading your insipid lives entirely disconnected from any kind of religion or thought. And to your public shame (it is clear you have no private shame), all of this shows not only in what you write, but in how you write.

    I am aware of Charlie Southerland’s verses and let me put it this way: If a poet has God in his heart, God will be in his poems. Poetry, like all art, is the purest mirror that there is.

    Your false claims to piety and compassion are betrayed by every word you’ve written on this thread.

    Nor should you presume to speak for Christians of any kind, or philosophers, or poets. You are men apart, locked in a bubble of loathing and hatred, with little if anything at all to do with common humanity. You are immense in your own minds. But your unbridled bigotry and ignorance of things you have never formally studied, give you the public aspect of very small men indeed.

    For, if your faith is so fragile that a poem about the Blessed Virgin Mary shatters your world and brings you to a place of crippling anger from which you can only sling mud, calumniate others, and lash out like inarticulate brutes, then here is my simple answer.

    Move on.

    Because no one could care less about your emotional problems and vendettas. This is a poetry website, not a psychiatrist’s couch for Catholic bashers.

    Reply
    • Michael R. Burch

      Please spare me the psychoanalysis. There is no “shattered world” or “crippling anger.” The Catholic church has sins that it should stop committing. The same is true for Protestant churches. How many people have suffered and died because of the Vatican’s lethal position on condoms? Protestant churches need many reformations, not just one. My goal here was just to suggest that poets think about the bigger issues. The Catholic church deserves to be bashed as long as it persists in ignorance and error. Ditto for Protestant churches.

      Reply
  22. Joseph S. Salemi

    To Joseph MacKenzie and Charles Southerland —

    The source of all this talk is simply this: Michael Burch deliberately came here to cause trouble, for two surreptitious reasons.

    First, he can’t stand it when I say anything that goes against the grain of his hillbilly left-liberalism, and so he looks for opportunities to start fights with me. As several persons in the poetry world have told me, he’s vindictive by nature, and can’t stand articulate disagreement.

    Second, he has an agenda, which is to sow discord between conservative Roman Catholics and conservative Protestants. He’s jackrabbit terrified at the prospect of those two groups joining hands to upset the applecart of the Smiley-Face liberal sentimentalism that Burch promotes. The theological disagreements between the various Christian denominations have no meaning for Mike — in fact, he’s utterly unqualified to discuss them in any intelligent way. Do you think a simple-minded left-liberal like Burch has the slightest understanding of the difference between the Catholic, the Lutheran, and the Calvinist viewpoints on justification? Or between the doctrinal positions of Council of Trent and the Synod of Dort?

    I never said that I hoped Burch would go to hell. That is a lie. What did happen at that discussion at The Pennsylvania Review was that I published a facetious poem about how Burch should AVOID hell. That’s the complete opposite of what Burch is now foaming at the mouth over. Let anyone who is interested go to the Penn Review, and check out the essay by Norman Ball. The discussion is tedious and long (typical of Burch, who can’t really shut up about anything), but it will confirm what I say.

    Remember: Burch is here solely to cause trouble.

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Dear Dr. Salemi,

      Leftists like Burch should be terrified of the coalition Catholics and Protestants have formed against them. Intelligent religionists fully understand their own doctrinal differences without falling into contempt and scorn for one another. Indeed, the very opposite is true, as all who profess to be Christians strive to love their neighbor.

      But Burch’s alt-left tactics are painfully obvious. One would have to pity this man who is evidently unable to see himself to the point of thus exposing his ignorance in so public a manner, was it not for his misanthropic hatred of all Christians.

      Reply
      • Michael R. Burch

        “Intelligent religionists”? Is that a stab at humor or an oxymoron?

        Was it “intelligence” that lead to holy wars, inquisitions, slavery, the burning of “witches” and “heretics,” the assassinations of translators of the Bible to keep it out of the hands of laymen, the suppression of science, etc.?

        Or was is blind, unthinking “faith” in a diabolical “god” who demands bloody sacrifices, orders the stoning of children for misdemeanors, and favors people who believe such evil nonsense over those who employ their powers of reason?

        Of course Protestant churches also have a long list of sins and crimes. But the “intelligent religionists” of the Catholic church have been at it much longer and have held much more power. Thus they have done more damage.

        One would think “intelligent religionists” would have figured out that there are deep flaws in their “thinking” by now. But apparently blind faith still rules.

        The solution here seems to be the ostrich approach: stick one’s head in the sand, one’s enormous ass in the air, and complain pompously that the church is being treated unfairly.

    • Charlie Southerland

      Dear Joe–

      Don’t fret. There is no daylight between you and I. Have you ever seen a man awakened by God and cling to Him as though newborn? That is where my eyes are, to see one born again. All the sturm and drang of doctrine gets tedious, especially from one so uneducated as I in matters of religion. I am a lowly doulas of Christ. Selah.

      Reply
      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        Dear Mr. Southerland,

        We have a very famous hymn whose melody dates to the fourth century. It has pride of place in our liturgy, especially during the mandatum of Holy Thursday:

        Ubi caritas et amor, ibi Deus est.

        Where charity and love are, God is there.
        Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
        Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
        Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
        And may we love each other with a sincere heart.

        Where charity and love are, God is there.
        As we are gathered into one body,
        Beware, lest we be divided in mind.
        Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease,
        And may Christ our God be in our midst.

        Where charity and love are, God is there.
        And may we with the saints also,
        See Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
        The joy that is immense and good,
        Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.

        So we must pray that, through the attainment of Truth, the world cease to be divided. Truth is one.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1MZMUGsCLw

        Pax et bonum!

    • Michael R. Burch

      Salemi, who is the liar? You know damn good and well that I’m not a “hillbilly.” When you were publishing my poetry, you had quite a different opinion of me, which I can easily provide from things you said in public and in private emails. So are you lying now, or were you lying then?

      You have called me a “liar” but have gone on to quickly prove me correct by confirming my assertions. So again, who is the liar?

      The incidents in which you and Yankevich happily informed me that I would go to hell occurred in public venues. I don’t remember all the parties involved, but I am confident that Norman Ball was present the first time. The discussion that prompted your hellfire sermon, in which you sounded like many evangelicals, was about religion. I distinctly remember the sermon being preached to me after I pointed out that Catholic popes were causing large numbers of poor people to suffer and die with their lunacy about the use of condoms being a “sin.” I’m sure you remember the discussion, so why are you dissembling now? Are you ashamed of having revealed your likeness to the evangelicals you despise?

      As for my main reason for being here, it is this statement that you made:

      “Faggots are now a protected class in the United States.”

      I was surprised that no one in this enlightened crowd objected. Is this an example of Christian love, charity, etc.?

      Reply
      • Charlie Southerland

        DearMichael–

        Why do you insist upon asking questions and demanding answers from men when God is the one who has the answers? All of us are fallen, broken, irretrievably so, except for the grace of God which he so freely gives to those of us who accept him. You know this. It does you no good to go after fallible people. You know this too. I am not religious. I am saved. Ask God and he will save you too. I can’t answer all of your questions. I am fallible too. Faith is underrated.Without Christ, you cannot justify yourself before God when you kneel in front of him. Since God made us, he has the right to do whatever he wants to do to us– and for us. The pot cannot criticize the potter who made him, can he?

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Sigh. Here we go again. This guy must be a masochist.

        Mike, calm down, take two aspirin, and rest quietly.

        A person is not a hillbilly simply because he lives in the hills. He’s a hillbilly if he has hillbilly attitudes, as you do. They would include an old-fashioned Bible-Belt hatred of Roman Catholicism, a yahoo-like need to whoop it up with wild, ecstatic assertions, and a lack of cultured self-restraint. In those respects, yes — you are a hillbilly. And I say this with all due respect to the inhabitants of Tennessee and Arkansas, the great majority of whom, regardless of their religion, are upstanding and fine people of unimpeachable character.

        As for the statement of mine about which Burch is so emotionally exercised, I made it because it is true, as everybody knows but won’t admit publicly. Burch knows it’s true as well, but he’s actually happy about it. It was made on a different discussion thread than this one, so Mike has just admitted that he came to this thread because of previous resentment and anger, and sought out an occasion to start a fight.

        That’s another hillbilly proclivity that you have, Mike — the need to maintain a bitter feud.

        Have I published some of your poetry and praised it? Sure, so what? I publish many poems if I think they are good work, regardless of the political stances of their authors. You do write good poems on occasion, just as a broken clock gives the right time twice a day. Yes, we have exchanged friendly e-mails in the past, as I would with anyone with whom I was corresponding. My tone changed after your malice and duplicity became evident. I can hardly be blamed for that.

        I never said that you would go to hell — as I explained above, I wrote a facetious and comic poem, addressed to you, urging you to AVOID hellfire. Can’t you see the difference?

        Mike, one of your problems is that you think you have some sacred mission to save the world, and convert everybody to your crackpot brand of left-liberal piety. Can’t you just calm down, sell your software, and chill out? I think you’d be a lot more comfortable.

        You were hubristic enough to think that you had the key to everlasting concord in the Middle East, when you cooked up that absurd “Peace Initiative” with Zainab Elberry (a Nashville insurance agent who helped Cat Stevens to found an Islamic Center in that city). Imagine that — despite seventy years of ceaseless conflict, intricate diplomacy, bloodshed, and terrorism, Burch and the insurance agent had found a sure-fire way to bring peace to the most savagely war-torn place on earth. What a portrait of Pollyanna-like cluelessness!

        Elberry seems to have dropped out of the quixotic scheme, since her name no longer appears on the proposal that is posted at Burch’s website. I’m sure there’s some interesting backstory to that separation — another example, perhaps, of Burch’s innate tendency to rub other people the wrong way.

        Mike, it’s truly amazing what a fixation and obsession you have with condoms and condom use. My Church is opposed (on sound Biblical and doctrinal grounds) to artificial contraception. It’s as simple as that. We don’t have to answer to foaming-at-the-mouth left-liberals like you about it. Got that?

        And just in passing — if you keep going on repeatedly like this about condoms, we’re all going to wonder if you have some sort of problem.

  23. Mort Miller

    “lack of cultured restraint” is the author of the phrase in a nutshell, from all the evidence I’ve seen. A faultless self-portrayal or self-betrayal. A very nice gift, even if inadvertently bestowed, and much appreciated.

    Honest self-characterization by highhanded types is typically accidental. Some derisive characterization is aimed at another but boomerangs. This boomerang effect is most noticeable when the critic is more evidently an example of his or her criticism than its intended target.

    Something about a mote in an eye comes to mind.

    Well, honesty is welcome any way we can get it, by accident or intention.

    So thanks.

    Reply
  24. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    To wrap up and close this thread, I am grateful to Mr. Burch for his participation. He has most enumerated the very reasons America loves Salemi’s essays, greatest of which is the good professor’s consecration to truth, a quality the world needs now more than ever before.

    Our nation has just undergone a political paradigm shift of untold magnitude. The liberal orthodoxy of the past is justly referred to as “hillbilly” not to denigrate in any way those exemplary souls who prefer to flourish in the majestic mountains of our land, but by a dead ideology’s isolation and remoteness from the exciting new movements of populism and nationalism which are now returning Europe to the Europeans and everywhere, by degrees perhaps, promising to restore freedom of thought and religious liberty to millions throughout the world.

    At such turning points in history, there will always be two kinds of men: On the one hand, the intellectually gifted, socially insightful, and exceptionally learned, those whose writings register the pulse of the nation and, on the other, those whose habits of thought are nothing more than the final sparks and sputtering of broken machine the world has since discarded.

    Dr. Salemi is a man of the first and nobler type, perfectly suited to our age with its general thirst for honesty and authenticity. Mr. Burch is a man of the outgoing kind, no more relevant to the great movements of our day than Gnosticism had become to the late Roman Empire.

    Burch has presented himself as a caricature of what was, laughable were he not so piteous, so desperate, so witheringly miserable in his attachment to the dust that the recent progress of the American people has happily left behind. He cannot see the great forward thrust of history, precisely because his system is ahistorical. He cannot perceive the deepest yearnings of the human soul precisely because the leaden eyes of crass materialism are blind to the things of the spirit.

    Just when the age of intellectual conformism has given way to that of critical independence, Burch wanders in his listlessness like a shade through the streets, half observing and half ignoring the unprecedented changes taking place around him—changes which no longer include his disappearing kind.

    Burch’s river of lies and calumnies, mixed with truths that only render his targets more admirable, are the cri de coeur of man whose world has virtually ceased to exist.

    Wherefore I say: Let us have pity and pray in all sincerity for Mr. Burch’s conversion.

    For, the hour is late, and…

    “The winnowing fan is in His hand, and He shall thoroughly purge His floor…”

    Reply
  25. Mort Miller

    Most interesting to me is the number of people who participated here. I counted 20.

    I had been unaware, until the fact was shared in the post above this one, that America loves reading one of those who participated in this cultured exchange. I hope his large following was here listening at least, and did not miss the chance to hear him declaim in person, even if they refrained, perhaps out of respect, from interjecting any comments of their own. Courage sometimes forsakes people when they are in the presence of a major personage.

    There have been a few calls here for Christian love and charity and it has been a learning experience for me to see the manner in which those calls were answered.

    Thoughtfulness, and consideration for the feelings of others, is always a joy to observe.

    The kind of speech used in this discussion should be studied by anyone who wants to learn how the religion of love sometimes plays out in practice.

    Thanks for the instructive demonstration.

    Reply
  26. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    Dear Alisdair,

    I hope you will please forgive me for being so dilatory in my response to your wonderful link to Our Lady at the Bridge of Dee. The article is fascinating, to say the least! The fact that the people in Aberdeen have such a devotion to our Lady whose most charming statue reminds them of her motherly solicitude is touching to me beyond words.

    It is clear form the article that the many peregrinations of the Our Lady of Aberdeen in the Low Countries and Belgium reflect those of the Scottish clergy itself during the years of persecution. It is nothing short of miraculous, moreover, that the statue was ever recovered—and to think the entire history goes back to Our Lady herself finding the only safe place to place the Bridge of Dee.

    Following up on the article I looked in to Bishop Dunbar who completed the Bridge of Dee. He mother was a Sutherland and all of this makes me wonder if Charles Southerland the American poet (see supra) might have some relation.

    The bridge is magnificent. It would definitely be worth visiting Aberdeen if I should ever return to Scotland.

    I have so much to say about how all the many things Our Lady of Aberdeen has in common with the statue that is dearest to my heart, namely that of La Conquistadora which resides in the Cathedral of St. Francis in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is my mother’s city.

    Thank you, once again, Alistair, for making me aware of yet another beautiful image of Our Lady. Perhaps, if you are a poet, a fine poem in her honour might be in order?

    Our Lady of Aberdeen, pray for us!

    Reply
    • Charlie Southerland

      The answer is yes. I am related to Dunbar as well as other royalty including Edward 11, Joan of Acre, and others dating all the way back to the Picts. In other words, for what it’s worth, I am of royal blood. I would lay claim to the throne, but it is currently occupied by certain usurpers.

      Reply
  27. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    Dear Mr. Miller,

    One of our most brilliant English theologians, Fr. Frederick William Faber, was the son of a Calvinist. After an excellent career at Oxford, Faber converted under the influence of the High Church movement spearheaded by John Henry Newman. Perhaps his most famous and most popular book is a treatise on kindness, entitled, simply, “Kindness.” From one page to the next it is rich with wisdom on this subject which I think you are alluding to now. Here is an awesome passage from the first chapter:

    “Kindness adds sweetness to everything. It is kindness which makes life’s capabilities blossom, and paints them with their cheering hues, and endows them with their invigorating fragrance. Whether it waits on its
    superiors, or ministers to its inferiors, or disports itself with its equals, its work is marked by a prodigality which the strictest discretion cannot blame. It does unnecessary work, which when done looks the most necessary work that could be. If it goes to soothe a sorrow, it does more than soothe it. If it relieves a want, it cannot do so without doing more than relieve it. Its manner is something extra, and it is the choice thing in the bargain. Even when it is economical in what it gives, it is not economical of the gracefulness with which it gives it.

    But what is all this like, except the exuberance of the Divine government? See how, turn which way we will, kindness is entangled with the thought of God ! Last of all, the secret impulse out of which kindness acts is an instinct which is the noblest part of ourselves, the most undoubted remnant of the image of God which was given us at the first. We must, therefore, never think of kindness as being a common growth of our nature, common in the sense of its being of little value. It is the nobility of man.”

    Reply
  28. Mort Miller

    The post of mine that I think you must be responding to, Joseph, disappeared very shortly (an hour or two perhaps?) after I posted it. I did not use the word kindness in that post, but I did mention “thoughtfulness, and consideration for the feelings of others,” which are really just different words for the same ideal. Am I correct in assuming that those are the words that inspired your reply?

    If so–I mean if that assumption is correct–would you agree that the missing post should be resurrected so that any others who may be following this exchange can see better how our posts relate to each other? If the missing post has been lost on your end, I can supply a copy of it. Please let me know your thoughts about sharing it. I think its resurrection would help anyone tuned in follow the dialogue more easily.

    Goodness is the virtue I find most beautiful. I also find it the rarest of virtues. To me it means an almost unearthly sweetness born of perfect innocence. Goodness, as I am speaking of it, is totally void of malice. Malice is alien to the character of goodness and does not exist in its nature. So I am speaking of a goodness that is absolute. Goodness is apprehended instinctively by people who encounter it. They look on it in wonder and they defer to it. Kindness I would say is a visible sign of goodness, and certainly a way by which we may know its presence.

    In return for your quotation, I would like to share with you three quotations that echo Frederick Faber’s theme. The first of them is from the founder of Taoism, which, as you probably know, CS Lewis, among other notable thinkers, regarded as the best place to look for a perfect ethics; the second is from Ghandi; the third, from Kahlil Gibran:

    1) Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.

    2) The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.

    3) To belittle, you must be little.

    Reply
  29. Evan Mantyk

    Dear Gentlemen, particularly Mr. Burch,

    I am the one in control of deleting posts. Homosexuality is a sin. It is a vice that is destroying people’s souls. The psychological criteria used to remove it from the category of mental illness could just as well be used to move pedophilia, incest, and other manner of mutually recognized degeneracy into the category of acceptable. Comments on homosexuality to the contrary will be deleted and further comments will lead to banning of individuals. “Here I stand, I can do no other.” (If Mr. Salemi or Mr. MacKenzie can provide a more Catholic and fitting quote, I will be perfectly content.)

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Thank you, Mr. Mantyk, for diffusing the game being played here, namely the attempt on the part of some in this thread to sully and defile a discussion of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s role in my verses, mirroring those socialists of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee who have attempted to sully the honour and good name of Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh.

      Like the Soros-funded activists who have attacked Dr. Kavanaugh’s wife and daughters, the activists on this thread will stop at nothing to destroy the only poet in America who writes for Heaven’s Queen. These will do everything in their power to derail the conversation, just as the totalitarian left has attempted to derail the Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination process in recent days.

      From a moral theological standpoint, you are, of course correct. But it is all to easy these days for men of ordinary ability to find good, Catholic teaching on this subject through an plethora of means readily available to everyone in our technological age, to speak of innumerable online sources. If the socialists activists infiltrating this discussion are so clever, then let them perform their own research, or, more realistically, be content with the truth they already fully know but reject.

      Everyone knows that Catholics place the sin of Sodom among those which call to heaven for vengeance (including, also, willful murder, oppression of the poor, and defrauding workers of their wages).

      Everyone knows that even the most liberal philosophers throughout the ages believed in the Natural Law.

      As for preachment on the more general subject of impurity, this also abound in the myriad writings of our saints and these could not be more accessible.

      Since the literary underpinnings of my sonnets for the Blessed Virgin flow from things such as her purity, her perpetual virginity, her divine maternity, her mediation, her relations to the Persons of the Trinity, etc., the discussion would normally center on these themes, was it not for the curious and repeatedly demonstrated obsession with homosexuality which seems to enslave Mr. Burch and others who have joined this discussion with one and only one intention, to do harm—even behind the cloak of a discussion on kindness which they have also sought to pervert.

      Reply
  30. Charlie Southerland

    Gentlemen-

    Suppose you have maintained your views on perverseness all your lives and then one day you found yourselves involved in an accident of unimaginable destruction, a near death experience, where you found yourself in a coma for some time. The doctors saved your life, you came out of your coma, but you were unable to help yourself for a prolonged period of time in a hospital bed, let’s say, thirty days. That should do it. In that time of recuperation and healing, all manner of people hired to care for you: nurses, orderlies, attendants, people who clean up your crapped on sheets, people who stick needles in you for IV’s or blood samples, etc., managed to nurse you back to health. The people included in your convalescence were homosexual, lesbians, trans, atheists, Moslems, Hindiis, you get the picture, people whom you would never associate with or accept as even remotely human. I bet at that point, you will not care who helps your helpless soul to leave the hospital in better condition that before you went in. Dare you judge them?

    I was/am one of those guys torn to pieces in an accident. I have since learned that God is the judge. My compassion extends as far as those who helped me to heal. While I don’t agree with the lifestyles of others who are not like mine/me, I have empathy for their souls. Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost and then he died for those, not the self-righteous.

    All who know me know that I’m not a liberal. I shouldn’t even have to say that. A disability journal called: Wordgathering has a poem of mine this month, audio too. All who know me also know that I’m a Christian Believer, for what that’s worth around here.

    Reply
    • Michael R. Burch

      Charlie Southerland, you said:

      “The people included in your convalescence were homosexual, lesbians, trans, atheists, Moslems, Hindiis, you get the picture, people whom you would never associate with or accept as even remotely human.”

      So you do not consider the people in your list to be “even remotely human”? How did you decide this? Are you God?

      Reply
      • Charlie Southerland

        Dear Michael–

        My speech was rhetorical, not literal. Sorry if you took it that way. Sometimes, people speak of Donald Trump that way. Should I wonder if they are being rhetorical– or literal? You know what I mean, don’t you?

      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        Of course Mr. Burch understood exactly Mr. Southlerland’s utterly benign meaning. But Mr. Burch is a totalitarian socialist for whom the word “discussion” is nothing more than a synonym for “show trial.”

        Mr. Burch, the fascist whom Dr. Salemi has just exposed to all the word, is not here to interact with others on the level of ordinary human discourse. He is here to put you and me and everyone he disagrees with on public trial. He is counting on you to stand up for your beliefs in order to take your words out of context, the better to convict you of them later.

        This has been the tactic of the left since the Bolsheviks came into power in Russia. These are the tactics of Mr. Burch’s German socialist predecessors during and after the Wiemar Republic. These are the tactics of Dianne Feinstein, Christine Blasey Ford, and an entire movement of modern-day Gorgons joined by a chorus of effeminate former males whom they control. Mr. Burch will gather your words to put you on trial in view of your utter destruction, because his pre-programmed intellect is strictly limited to the one operation of intimidating and silencing anyone who disagrees with his left-wing fascist ideology.

        Understand that if you were a shallow writer of greeting-card rhymes Mr. Burch would be inviting you to publish on his Masonic website that nobody reads. By standing up for yourself, however, you are now an uppity Christian type who must be crushed.

        We are also dealing with someone who has a problem as has already been observed. Mr. Burch is a man whose very existence currently revolves around Joseph Charles MacKenzie because, as is now evident by his own continued presence on this thread, he has no other life. I am his life. I am his existence, and he has none outside of me. This is evidently the nature of his unnatural obsession. It is now clear that he simply can’t control himself.

  31. Mort Miller

    Thank you for your reply, Joseph. It reminded me of a statement commonly attributed to Thales.

    I think my favorite Lewis book is Perelandra. Lewis had quite an imagination.

    “The Abolition of Man” was considered a very important book by a scholar I once traded thoughts with. I think he also had a very high opinion of “That Hideous Strength.” Maybe I’ll try to locate them someday amid the scattered clutter lying all around me. If I ever re-read them, I am sure they will seem brand new.

    Your remark “…kindness is not an excuse for rejecting divine and Catholic truth…” only bewildered. It seemed to come out of left field. I don’t mind confiding, however, that I do not subscribe to ideologies. I favor original minds and independent thought.

    When I discovered this site, I had assumed that poetry would be its primary focus, probably owing to the site’s name. But–in this discussion at least–politics and religion seem to be crowding out everything else. Is this site’s purpose to push political and religious agendas? Or is it to share, and encourage appreciation of, literature?

    I personally am more interested in poetry than I am in people’s favorite creeds. And who wants to have doctrines one may not subscribe to shoved down their throats? I certainly don’t. If only people of a particular religious and political persuasion are welcome here, please let me know. I may have unknowingly stumbled into the wrong place. My main thought thus far about this discussion is that a little more humility would bespeak greater wisdom.

    To bring your too-neglected poem back to the fore, I thought, in case you are interested, that it had a nice and natural flow and was smooth and coherent. I wasn’t bothered by either its theme or its Elizabethan diction. My only lament is that there hasn’t been more evidence in this discussion that “All darkness flees before her holy name.”

    Regarding your note to the site censor, I have seen no evidence that anyone here is trying to destroy you. Do you feel under attack? If you do, is it because you think that writing about Mary must result in certain people
    stigmatizing, or even trying to silence, you? That is my impression of what you are thinking.

    If you do feel that way, I do not think the fear is well-founded. Mary may not affect others the same way she affects you, but I don’t see how it follows from that that anyone here would want to destroy you. And by the way, you are not the only poet in America to write for Mary. That I know for a fact.

    Finally, having just looked to see if any new posts had been added, I want to add to C. Southerland’s post some good gospel wisdom: “judge not lest ye be judged.” People are forever condemning others. When will they learn to start condemning themselves? God knows we all have reason enough to do so. To repeat an earlier remark of mine, a little more humility would bespeak greater wisdom.

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Mr. “Mort Miller”:

      Arrogance, not humility, is ascribed to those who presume to police the humility of others.

      So you might try stepping down from your almighty throne of judgment and consider that no one cares about your opinions, much less your ad hominem attacks.

      Reply
  32. Joseph S. Salemi

    Mr. Miller —

    Your statement that you “do not subscribe to ideologies” is pure self-deception — not your fault, perhaps, but self-deception nonetheless.

    Your ideology is the commonest one among American left-liberals today, namely, the notion that we are all supposed to be mild-mannered and polite, never saying anything to offend the public orthodoxy of our self-appointed ruling class of academics, globalists, mainstream media types, op-ed writers, and Deep State bureaucrats. You think that such a stance isn’t an “ideology”? It most certainly is, and a stifling , choking, soul-crushing one that some of us are fighting to break.

    You complain that some poems here take religious and political stances, and that political and religious viewpoints come up in the discussion threads. Oh really? You mean you are uncomfortable with diversity? Well, it’s hard to know what to say to that kind of insularity. Persons throughout the world have manifold religious and political opinions, and not all of them may be to your taste, but who are you to complain that those persons express those opinions in a public forum? You want the site to just have “poetry” of an anemic and washed-out nature, designed to be a sort of hearts-and-flowers decor to mindless “niceness”?

    You say that you do not want to destroy or attack Mr. MacKenzie. Maybe you don’t, in your conscious intentions. But in practical fact, your entire approach is to silence opinions that you do not like by smothering our discourse with rhetorical fluff about niceness and kindness and goodness. Be assured, Mr. Miller, that that ploy doesn’t work anymore. When left-liberals talk about politeness and good manners, it simply means that they are terrified of unorthodox statements of opinion that aren’t properly larded with cap-tugging deference to the cultural powers that be.

    It’s typical of left-liberals to come to a site like this one, which actually allows for serious diversity of opinion, and to work surreptitiously to restrict public discussion to harmless and inoffensive commentary that follows the unspoken but rigid rules of a campus speech-code. Is that what you’re doing here, Mr. Miller? How about an honest answer? And please — no pious quotes from Gandhi and Kahlil Gibran.

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Dear Dr. Salemi,

      Please forgive me a final observation which might appear to you as déplacé after so eloquent an expression of truth.

      It now appears quite evident that the pouting, simpering “Mort Miller” (a.k.a. “He Who Is To Be Ignored”) and the manic Michael Burch have orchestrated an attack on free speech in this forum.

      But while “Mort Miller’s” motives are exactly as described—if not mixed with an adolescent girl’s desperate need for attention—I believe that those of Mr. Burch go beyond mere ideology.

      I will go ahead and say it:

      Mr. Burch is a failed poetry editor who is deeply envious of and men of letters such as yourself a well as other editors whose talents and genius have overshadowed him or rendered his enterprise irrelevant. I say this because Burch has also made a point of attacking Leo Yankevich in this thread, yet another editor whose Penn Review has been immensely successful over the years.

      Behind the ideological shallowness of Michael Burch is a burning, seething, jealousy of his superiors, an acrimonious mixture of spite and resentment which has risen to the surface of his own words for everyone to see.

      Reply
  33. Mort Miller

    –Is ascribed by whom, JM?

    –Evidently you don’t care about my opinions, but how can you know that “no one cares about” them? No way you can know that, I’m afraid. Isn’t it best to stick within the bounds of that which you can know? Or do you prefer presuming to speak for the whole world? Take some good (if possibly wasted) advice: speak for yourself. Why not just say: “I don’t care about your opinions.” Honest, simple, and much better than invoking an imaginary army to back you up. Why try to make your personal opinion sound universal, held by everyone, when no reasonable person could suppose that it is.

    –As to ad hominem, it would appear, rather unfortunately, that you are an undisputed master of that approach to discourse. I can see the influence of a renowned essayist. But ad hominem, which is the discounting of a message by defamation of the messenger, is an unscrupulous diversionary tactic. It is typically employed to invalidate some viewpoint by vilifying its source and making its source seem utterly untrustworthy. Why, again, not just be simple and honest, and either ignore me, or else say something like “I think we see things too differently for conversation to be profitable.” The second proposed response would even sound gentlemanly, as opposed to churlish. I would certainly much prefer civility to your ad hominem approach.

    I sit on no throne, nor do I want to. I leave that to those who rule by divine right. I have no divine right, but like Dickinson, am Nobody. And I have no ambition to be anything more.

    Reply
  34. Mort Miller

    For JS–

    –Leftist liberals have have argued indefatigably against my core views. Yet they have generously allowed them a forum, for which I am grateful.

    –I am sorry if you feel stifled, choked, and soul-crushed. I know the feeling and sympathize. But have you never been given an outlet?

    –Like you, I am indifferent to poetry that is “anemic and washed-out.” I was really just looking for a clear statement of the site’s objectives. I think you have provided it, and I thank you for that. I feel less unwelcome now.

    –How can I be trying to silence anyone here when I have been trying to talk to you? It’s hard to converse with the mute. Like Plato, I like dialogue–and please don’t conclude from that that I suppose myself his equal. Like Whitehead, I think everything that followed him is a footnote, with only a few exceptions.

    –I am glad you are open to diversity, because I am very different. It is hard to find acceptance when you are different. I am glad you are open to diversity in taste and opinion. As a total outsider, this means a great deal to me.

    –Do I have any wish to restrict your discussion? What a presumption that would be. In fact the more you give vent to your feelings, the happier I am. What can people be but themselves? Discuss politics, religion, or washed-out poetry, and you won’t find me complaining. Just like your friend Wilmot, I have no argument with sex and booze, and in fact commend them. In the circumstances, what could be better?
    Who cares where your divining rod is drawn? Your natural magnet draws you where it will.

    Reply
  35. Mort Miller

    To the all-knowing JM–

    Always grateful to be ignored by any great one. So many thanks, JM. You took 1 of the 2 paths suggested, except for forgetting to say nothing.

    You are a mirror image of your mentor, except for language proficiency. He must coach you a little more on syntax and diction. Still, he should be proud. Like god, he has (best as he could, given the material he had to work with) created his own likeness. Maybe after a couple more decades, the self-replication will be perfect? Or who knows, it might even graduate into an independent being. Character–if it exists–might yet triumph over the sculptor’s design. As always, wishing you the best.

    Reply
  36. Joseph S. Salemi

    To Mort Miller —

    Who’s throwing around ad hominem attacks now?

    Joseph MacKenzie is not my creation and not my student. His awesome scholarship, his profound knowledge of theology and doctrine, his command of many languages, and his wide-ranging erudition far surpass whatever meager abilities I may possess. I have only known the man for about two years, and I have never actually met him in person. What he has achieved and accomplished in the world of belles lettres has nothing to do with my puny influence. I’m just a tough Italian-American kid from New York City. Joseph MacKenzie has forgotten more than I’ll ever learn or know.

    As a matter of fact, Joseph MacKenzie and I have disagreed on several subjects that we have discussed privately. He is a man of profound integrity and rectitude, and he has sacrificed more than you will ever know out of loyalty to his religious beliefs and his moral commitments.

    If you want to attack me and my polemical/rhetorical style, go right ahead. But making snide comments about Joseph MacKenzie because you don’t like his religious persuasion or his devotion to the Holy Mother of God — well, that won’t fly. At least not as long as I’m around to fight back.

    I’m glad you read my essays at The Pennsylvania Review. The editor there tells me that visits to his site are booming.

    Reply
  37. Wilbur Dee Case

    Mr. Burch seems to be under some misapprehensions:

    1. This is a poetry site; and a good one at that; but after his comments, the discussion of Mr. MacKenzie’s Elizabethan sonnet dropped precipitously.

    2. The Bible records the brutality of its eras. From what he writes about it, he seems not to have studied it much at all. Even if he does not understand Hebrew or Greek, even from translations, one can see it is one of the greatest, if not the greatest Book of all time. A reading at eleven is hardly a studying at 20, 30, 40, 50, 60…although that is a lovely time for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I must admit I did not find as much artistry in Mr. Burch’s “What Would Santa Say” as I did in Mr. MacKenzie’s “Benedictum Nomen Mariae”.

    3. His interpretation of “Revelation” is decidedly childish, if not benighted.

    4. Ancient Greek and Roman literature is filled with brutality, as are the great epics of India and ancient Chinese writings. In many ways, the ancients were far more serious than we moderns are. But if one even reads merely the news of the Main Stream Media, one cannot seriously think this not as brutal or as benighted as older times, even in the stories that the Main Stream Media finds positive.

    5. Certainly the apostles and evangelists, who wrote in Greek, drew on the Hebrew texts, as did Jesus, in the Aramaic tongue. One of the things I find so fascinating is that confluence of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin at the time of Christ. But also, in very deep ways, the “Old Testament” prefigures the “New Testament” as Mr. MacKenzie has pointed out.

    6. One need not subscribe to Mr. Salemi’s views on the Pope, etc., to see that he is an impassioned advocate of genuine righteousness. Although I find I am in conflict with Mr. Salemi nearly constantly, I think “The Missionary’s Position” a witty sonnet, and I would have liked to have seen Mr. Burch analyze it literarily rather than merely trash it carte blanche. Mr. Salemi’s literary talents on the whole have been a good contribution to Postmodern and New Millennial poetry.

    7. Although I nitpick the writings of Mr. MacKenzie, and disagree with him on all kinds of topics; and more seriously believe he is literarily stuck in an Elizabethan time warp (Is that Mr. Southerland’s complaint?), I find his sonnets remarkable for their artistry, and an excellent addition to New Millennial writing as well. I must admit I do prefer Mr. MacKenzie’s poems to Archibald MacLeish’s poetry.

    8. I must also admit to preferring Mr. MacKenzie’s prose to that of Mr. Burch’s, even if I find I disagree with so much of what Mr. MacKenzie says. At moments, when he touches French literature, for example, he can be brilliant.

    9. What I did like of Mr. Burch @ SCP was his translation of Rilke. Perhaps he could do more of that for us in the future. Perhaps by drawing from a Modernist poet he could find his niche in New Millennial poetry. Or offer new poetry he has written. Also, it does seem that Mr. Burch can quote Mr. Salemi, one of the New Millennium’s most vociferous advocates of a strong literature in English. His quotes are proof of the vigour of Mr. Salemi’s verse, even if one finds phrases, like the Protestant Deformation, a rhetorical, if not a giant, step backwards. Mr. Salemi also offers his advice to other poets, even if it seems a bit wrong-headed at times, something that Mr. Burch could also do, if he has strong views himself on the quality of literature in English, as he has shown in his analysis of William Dunbar’s “Sweet Rois of Vertew”.

    10. But if Mr. Burch really thinks intelligent religionists is an oxymoron, what does he think of figures like Galileo, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Kepler, Leibniz, Euler, Lomonosov, Lavoisier, Linnaeus, Priestley, Volta, Dalton, Ampere, Riemann, Whewell, Faraday, Babbage, Maxwell, Mendel, Hertz, Gray, Pasteur, Lister, Mendeleev, Kelvin, Thomson, Röntgen, Marconi, Carver, Eddington, Fleming, Millikan, Born, Compton, Lemaître, Heisenberg, Polyani, von Braun, Rossini, Church, Eccles, Hodgsen, etc.? I cannot think of the modern world without them. And I could name 20+ for each one of these names I have listed. And this is really in only one area of human endeavour. Who, pray tell, is blind and unthinking?

    11. I do think C. S. Lewis a greater prosaist than Mr. Mackenzie, and a greater contributor to English literature. And Mr. Miller is correct—the focus here should be on poetry, though holding creeds in abeyance, as Whitman did, is not always a good thing. Perhaps Mr. Miller can offer up some poems or literary criticism himself; that is the raison d’être of the SCP.

    Reply
  38. Mort Miller

    JS

    –You seem to believe that the reason for my parting shot to mck is that I “…don’t like [mck’s] religious persuasion or his devotion to the Holy Mother of God…” This is sheer assumption on your part, since you will find nothing in my posts here to back it up. In fact I wrote a sentence about his sonnet that some might see as contradicting your assumption: “I wasn’t bothered by either its theme or its Elizabethan diction.” So how does that jibe, I wonder, with your interpretation of why I said what I said in my last post to him? Maybe you thought my remarks about his poem were disingenuous? But that too would only be an assumption. I see no point in speculating about why you assume things. If you have evidence, by all means bring it forward. But your assumptions don’t interest me.

    –I suspect many people keep tabs on The Penn Review. Of course one never knows why people follow things. Maybe some are just curious who will be crucified next? I had the impression from your Wilmot piece that sex and booze are not anathema to you. That was refreshing. It even made me wonder if you might have had some secret dalliances yourself. And whether even the occasional prostitute might not be off limits to some Catholics. Hating Puritanic attitudes myself, I was able to identify with the piece somewhat. I guess it proves you are capable of not always
    rubbing me the wrong way. In fact, in some other essays of yours that I’ve read, I have actually agreed with a point here and there. But I have also of course noted, like everyone else I’m sure, your fondness for taboo–and debasing– terms, though I’m not sure I’ve heard you use the word nigger yet. Possibly I just missed that issue? Use of language of that sort could be construed as an attempt at intimidation. Do you like trying to intimidate I wonder? Certainly our glorious new sovereign does, and I know he’s an–would it be fair to say idol?–of yours. In moments of anger people say things they like to think themselves above saying. And I know you are angry. Ever thought of just chillin’?

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Well, the mask comes off at last. We see “Mort Miller” for the agenda-driven troublemaker that he is — not the sweetness-and-light voice of moderation he posed as in several previous postings. What happened to “goodness” and “kindness” and “innocence,” Morty? From the language you used before, one would think that you worked for Hallmark Cards or something. Now your real self emerges.

      As a matter of fact, this metamorphosis does indeed prove that all you have said here in your various postings is disingenuous. You’re very angry with me, you’re very angry with the Penn Review, you’re very angry with taboo words, and you’re very angry with President Trump. We’re finally getting a glimpse of your political DNA. It must have taken real work for you to come here and posture as a disinterested observer who merely wanted to discuss literature. You’re the one who needs to chill out.

      How about giving us your actual name now? Is it really Mort Miller, or is that just a convenient alias, like John Doe or Kilroy? Since you have admitted to disguising your basic commitments with all that malarkey about kindness and goodness and quotes from Gandhi and Gibran, why not admit to your real identity, or for what third party you are acting as a sock-puppet?

      In a recent post here you said “Leftist liberals have argued indefatigably against my core views.” Really? That’s interesting. How? When? Where? At what forum? Why not give us a sample of those anti-left-liberal views of yours? Let’s hear from you how anti-left-liberal you are.

      Oh, I forgot — that was just posturing on your part. You actually are a left-liberal who has come here in disguise, to cause trouble.

      Nice try about my Wilmot essay at the Penn Review, and your sly slandering of me with insinuations about “dalliances” and prostitutes. I see you are a Democrat, trying to use that same vile suggestions about me as your party is using against Kavanaugh. That was a mistake, Morty — Democrat lies are now in the news spotlight, and people are well aware of the length to which partisans such as yourself will go. You should have tried a different tactic.

      So let’s sum up, shall we? You came here under false pretenses, trying to convince the rest of us that you were just a mild-mannered lover of literature who didn’t want to hear about politics and religion. Then you posed as an angel of sweetness and light and kindness. Then you tried to speak in tones of facile irony, to attack me and Joseph MacKenzie while not appearing to do so openly, using an oleaginous rhetoric of love and virtue.

      And finally, you tried to gaslight people here, by insinuating that you were the voice of human reason and civilized moderation while the rest of us were crazy. Despite all your blather about how we should speak openly and honestly, you were completely dishonest.

      I don’t need to chill out, thank you. I’m perfectly at ease. But since you’ve expressed an interest in my use of taboo terms, I’ll say some for you: you’re a low-life son of a bitch.

      Reply
  39. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    If anyone wishes to comment on this thread, their discussion should center on the literary merits of the poem and the ideas specifically underlying it.

    I humbly ask those who wish to engage in defamation against the Catholic faith and individual Catholics to please leave this site immediately. If you are unable to control your anti-Catholic hatred and loathing, there are plenty of leftist venues that welcome radical bigots.

    Reply
  40. Mort Miller

    I enjoyed your post Wilbur. It was more thoughtful than many of the others.

    I don’t agree with some of your appraisals, but the grilled cheese I am dreaming of at the moment is going to take precedence, I’m afraid, over elaborating on that. Suffice it for now to say that we are in perfect agreement about the higher, vastly higher, literary stature of CS Lewis. They are in totally different leagues.

    “All art criticism is a snide” is an observation that has been attributed to Van Gogh. I think I must like it, since I remember it from so long ago. But criticism can be done in different ways. So if you are inviting me to comment on poems that get posted here, thanks for the invite and sure, I don’t see why not. Possibly I could possibly muster the requisite delicacy for the job.

    As to posting poems of my own though, I frankly never seek out people’s thoughts about my literary efforts. Some of them have been displayed in rather nice places, and of course that always pleases–and also surprises–me. Not too long back, for instance, I had some very pleasant feedback from an editor at a big publishing house, and of course that made me happy. I hadn’t submitted anything to them, the piece was sent to them by somebody else, but they seemed glad to be able to use it. It’s always nice to feel appreciated.

    Reply
  41. Mort Miller

    Humbly,

    churls add no lustre to whatever they claim to represent. They do it harm, and plunge it into disrepute.

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      A brilliant retort, Morty. And how convenient that it allows you to avoid answering questions.

      Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      See folks? Like that lying bitch Christine Blasey Ford, he doesn’t want to answer any hard questions.

      Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Yeah Morty — I guess you need to wiggle out of this embarrassing catfight in some way, shape, or form. OK, I’ll let you off the hook this time, but watch out in the future.

      Reply
  42. Mort Miller

    I understand. You must be exhausted from spending most of the afternoon at the keyboard. Good to have a rest no doubt. Nighty-night.

    Eld–such a joyous experience, no?–may relent a bit tomorrow. Vagaries may bring a brief respite from the inevitably felt breakdown of body and spirit.

    In a ziploc-bag inside a glazed ceramic bowl right next to me, are some rocks from Medjugorje. “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.”

    I wish she would say that might over right is the wrong approach. That more weapons, more money, more power, that intimidation, is no road to peace, but a sure path to future revenge and destruction.

    I think he’s right that others have become too used to dependency. I think it’s good to encourage independence. But is the sledgehammer approach best? Especially when slammed down so publicly? His monarchic fantasy is a bit overweening. So many flourishes of the royal pen.

    I agree with him that we’ve borne too much of the burden. I do not agree that divine right monarchy is a good thing to go back to. But time is a pendulum, and the old ways are always more or less sure to return. But look at the good side: we’ll be dead before it happens.

    Reply

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