Charlie's Blog: D'yer Mak'er


D'yer Mak'er

When I read the letter you sent me, it made me mad mad mad
When I read the news that it broke, it made me sad sad sad.
But I still love you so, and I can't let you go
LED ZEPPELIN, D'yer Mak'er

This is the most mispronounced title in Led Zeppelin's catalogue. It is pronounced "Jamaica." Basically, it was Led Zeppelin's attempt at reggae. The cross between rock and reggae didn't go off so well. The Police would perfect the rock/reggae mix. To me, this song influenced The Police to go for the reggae/rock thing as evidenced by the the Zep lyric, "Every breath I take oh oh oh oh oh
Every move I make oh oh oh oh oh." My wife disputes this, but I am good at divining influences. Creation does not happen in a vacuum.

The Zeppelin won a major court case over the Stairway to Heaven song being ripped off from Taurus by the band Spirit. There is only a slight similarity of a few notes, and that is it. Did Page rip them off? I don't think so. I write, and I really do mean it when I say that creation does not happen in a vacuum. This was never a problem in the past because Willie Shakespeare made the stuff he stole way better. But in the era of copyright and patent, everyone wants to believe that every idea is immaculately conceived. The reality is much different. Creativity is like sex where two parents make a child from their DNA. The child is unique but not dissimilar. It's like how Ronan Farrow looks exactly like his dad, Frank Sinatra:

And nothing like the father on his birth certificate:

That is about as much celebrity gossip as I care to share on this blog, but it highlights a point that needs to be made about creative endeavors. We are the products of our creative predecessors, and we are fooling ourselves if we deny this paternity. In the case of Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin, I think they shamelessly borrowed, stole, or were influenced by many artists before them. They also made them way better in the process.

I am against the concept of intellectual property. I think property can only apply to scarce resources like land, houses, cars, and the like. But ideas are non-material. I champion trademark protection because customers have a right to know that they are buying from the company they chose instead of someone bootleg vendor on the street selling counterfeit Rolexes. But if I want to make a watch every bit as good as a Rolex, why should I be stopped?

I have never plagiarizd anything I have written, but I would be a liar if I didn't acknowledge that my ideas have come from other writers and from movies. The difference is that I make the new thing very new while guys like Jimmy Page don't. I reassemble while Page will put in a new transmission and put on a fresh coat of paint.

Another creative mind in the same mode as Page is the director Quentin Tarantino who practically steals everything he makes. But it is a glorious theft. He takes elements from trashy B movies and makes awesome new movies from it all. George Lucas did much the same thing with Indiana Jones which was nothing more than an update on the old movies he watched as a kid.

Nothing is really new. What makes things new is the cultural amnesia of the public. This hit me when I noticed that House, M.D. was Sherlock Holmes as a doctor. The producers of the show didn't even hide the fact even having House live at the same address as Holmes--221B Baker Street. Beyond that, the two characters are very different.

Recently, I attended a mass at a parish not my own, and I was very impressed with how they did it there. The priest there obviously celebrates the Mass in the extraordinary form known to many as the Latin Mass or TLM. This mass was in the ordinary form or Novus Ordo that most Catholics attend these days except that the priest stood ad orientem with his back to the people in the pews. Here is what this looks like:

Now, traddies may make an argument for this being superior to the new form, but I don't really care to debate all of that. I also don't care about going to the mattresses over Latin or vernacular. The truth is that I love the extraordinary form, but it won't keep me from the ordinary form.

The thing I am willing to go to the mattresses for is the next thing the priest did which was unique to this parish. He had the old fashioned altar rail. We kneeled and took communion on the tongue from the hand of the priest. This is the way it should be done. It took about the same time as it takes at my parish to do communion with the horrible abuse of using "eucharistic ministers."

The lack of reverence in my mind is most directly tied to this innovation. For some reason, priests became lazy, and they delegated this task to laity who don't really care to do it. I know I don't, and I refuse to do it. The reality is that they are known as "extraordinary ministers of the holy eucharist" and are permitted only in times of necessity. For instance, when there is a large congregation and only one priest, I could see the extraordinary ministers used there. Obviously, they are needed for homebound parishioners. I get it. But the way they are used now amounts to being fast food workers at the Mass. It is so bad that I wonder if the next evolution will be to install a drive up window at the parish for the convenience of those who can't sit through the entire liturgy.

Recently, the priest at my parish decided to reduce the number of Sunday masses from three to two. Obviously, attendance drops off during the summer months as families leave for vacations and travel. But his reason for nixing one of the masses was the unavailability of enough "eucharistic ministers." Since there weren't enough people to hand out the body and blood of Christ, he was going to find a new way to take the load off by just cancelling a mass. I am not making this up. I have already let the padre know my thoughts on the matter, and he has chosen to ignore them. So, they are now fair game for the blog.

Not having sufficient extraordinary ministers is never--NEVER--a valid reason for cancelling a mass. Either the mass will be longer, or it won't matter since fewer parishioners are in attendance. In this case, the masses would be no longer due to less attendance. The reality is that this priest doesn't want to do his job.

I'm not happy about the matter, but I have done what I can. I am not inclined to "bishop" my priest especially when the abuse of extraordinary ministers is on a diocesan level. What I can say is that I have met a few truly holy priests in my time as a Catholic, and the difference is like night and day.

When it comes to holiness, the key is not so much what you do but the spirit in which you do it. It's like when you get service at a restaurant, and you can tell the servers who care versus those just trying to get to the end of their shift. I can cut servers a lot of slack because it is hard to be enthusiastic about your job when your boss treats you like a sack of crap. But the priesthood is different.

Some priests are holy, and it shows with how they celebrate the Mass. Others are just going through the motions. One of my favorite pictures of Padre Pio is this one:

The look in his eyes says it all. This man deeply loved the Lord in the eucharist. This is how priests should be. I doubt at the moment this photo was taken that St. Pio was thinking about the ball game he was going to be watching after Mass.

We need to get back to using those altar rails again and banish extraordinary ministers to the truly extraordinary. If I could make one change in the novus ordo, it would be the return of those altar rails and kneeling to take communion. Some things should not be fast, and the Mass is one of those things.