Matt Brundage

Archive for the 'religion' category

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Little-known facts

Since moving to Silver Spring in 2005, I’ve walked approximately 1,568 miles to and from the Forest Glen Metro Station. That’s about 490 hours of walking.

conformation Despite my ardent Catholic faith, I have never been confirmed. This is even more astounding when you consider that the sacrament of confirmation is a prerequisite to the sacrament of marriage.

I’ve been using Quicken on a daily basis since October 1, 1993. I just recently persuaded Annie to join me and now she is all excited.

I’ve made 12,033 edits (and counting) to the English version of Wikipedia. An average of more than one edit per day since birth.

Circa 2001 or 2002, I was scrounging around in the music section of a used book store — trying to find an LP or 45 with the song “Go Away Little Girl” by Steve Lawrence. Randomly, I struck up a conversation with the man standing next to me; I got to telling him what I was trying to find. Turns out the man was Steve Lawrence’s cousin or something. The Odds! I was too astonished to react appropriately, so I muttered something cursory like, “oh, wow, that’s cool.” The mind boggles when I try to calculate the odds of something like that ever happening. To anyone. Ever again.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Charitable contributions by religious denomination

Religious charity percentages

Time span: July 17, 1994 to October 18, 2009.

Update (March 2011)

It seems that at least one person has misinterpreted these numbers, so I just wanted to set the record straight — these numbers are solely what I have donated over the years to various religious denominations.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Novus Ordo Missae

Changes to the Roman Missal are forthcoming. The US bishop’s conference has a site that contains the proposed changes to the English translation of the Mass.

“The revised translation adheres to new Vatican norms requiring greater adherence to the original Latin text of the Roman Missal. Bishop Arthur Serratelli, who chairs the US bishop’s liturgical committee, describes the new texts as ‘understandable, dignified, and accurate.'”

The translation will be introduced after it receives final clearance from the Holy See.

While I no longer attend English Mass (Novus Ordo) on a regular basis, I am still happy for everyday Catholics, who will get to pray a Mass more in line with the original Latin.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Brain Dump, post-Memorial Day Edition I wonder what effect — if any — Billy Graham’s Crusades and ministry had on the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council. Ecumenicism is a major part of Vatican II and was one of Graham’s hallmarks.

Mixing equal parts Mike’s Hard Lemonade™ and regular lemonade should yield Mike’s Somewhat Firm Yet Pliable Lemonade™. Likewise, equal parts Mike’s Hard™ and, say, grain alcohol, should yield Mike’s Extremely Difficult™.

Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cloudy” may not be Paul Simon’s best song, but the arrangement is top-notch. If there is ever a Baroque-pop revival, “Cloudy” should serve as the blueprint.

Jens Meiert is delving deeper into the increasing pedantry that is long-term HTML/CSS maintenance.

Politician A from Political Party X just did [something]! If instead, Politician B from Political Party Y had just done [something], then media and public reaction would be totally different. Double standard! (wash, rinse, and repeat)

(\s\?[^>]|[^< ]\?\w|\?\s(?-i:[a-z])|“|”|’|?|?|?|—| \s|\s |(?-i:the) FAA(?!\s(?-i:[A-Z<]))|(?<!<cf.*)&(\s|(?!(\w{2,5}|#\d{2,5});)))

I’ve decided that I thoroughly enjoy swimming at the beach. Not just wading up to my knees like a little girl but actually swimming.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


I’m becoming more and more of a snob every day. (Well, at least according to Annie.) I’d rather call it “discriminating taste” — or in its simplest form, just a preference for one thing over another.

  • I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners, monosodium glutamate, partially hydrogenated oils (margarine), other “unnatural” fats, and needlessly processed food products with unpronounceable ingredients. Instead, I purchase “real”, “natural”, or “organic” whenever possible. I don’t mind paying a bit more for quality. For that, I am a food snob.
  • I won’t drink Merlot, Rosé (White Zinfandel), or wine that has been “embellished”. For that, I am a wine snob.
  • I am through with North American lagers. Instead, my gaze is fixed upon Ireland (Guinness) and Belgium (Chimay). For that, I am a beer snob.
  • I consume an enormous quantity of music, much of it esoteric. I typically get blank stares or polite nods when I try to describe my tastes to people. I value my vinyl records just as much as my CDs. I’m not the kind of music snob who categorizes his collection as classical, jazz, and “other”, but I am a snob nonetheless.
  • While my video collection is comparatively more mainstream than my music collection, certain “guidelines” still apply: Since the beginning of 2008, I have completely stopped purchasing DVDs and have moved on (without any hiccups) to Blu-ray. I’ve even been replacing my old DVDs with their Blu-ray versions. I will never stretch or crop the picture. I prefer to watch a film in its original, theatrical aspect ratio, whether that be 1.33:1, 1.85:1, 2.35:1, or any other variation. I cannot be happier that “Full-screen” DVDs are finally being phased out. I am frustrated with people who just don’t get it, especially those with capable widescreen televisions. For that, I am a film and video snob. In this regard, the label of snob may be warranted.
  • My requirements for church are becoming more and more specialized. While I’ve always been Catholic, my adherence to the “weekly requirement” hasn’t always been strict. And by that, I mean that, a few times a year, I would attend a non-Catholic church service and count that as my “weekly”. Never again. It’s even gotten to the point where I’m hesitant to attend a Novus Ordo Mass — especially if it’s in the vernacular; I need to hear the old Mass in Latin. For that, I am a church snob.
  • I’m a stickler for proper grammar usage — a great deal of my Wikipedia edits involve grammar corrections or diction in some form or another. I’ve corrected people in everyday conversation: I remember telling someone once that they had “split the infinitive.” Lately, I’ve been surprised at the frequency at which people use the word “less” when they really mean “fewer.” It boggles the mind. I have strong preferences toward the increased usage of both the serial comma and the subjunctive mood. For that, I am a grammar snob.

In addition, Annie says that I’m a snob in the following categories: cars, clothes, computers, paper shredders, razors, lamps, light bulbs, and books. That’s right. I’m officially a paper-shredder snob.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Dominus Vobiscum

Latin Mass at St. John the Evangelist On Friday, I just so happened to re-read an article that I had posted on my website some time ago, Rod Dreher’s “Latin mass as stumbling block?” While I’ve always been interested in attending Latin Mass — and have even gone to some on occasion at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington DC — I didn’t know much about them, or their histories.

A quick read of the Traditional Catholic Directory keyed me in on the various decrees, contrasts, etiquette, history, politics, and locations of the Traditional Catholic Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass. As it turns out, the Latin Mass that I’ve been attending at St. Matthew’s is the Novus Ordo, that is, the Mass promulgated by Paul VI in 1969, after the Second Vatican Council. The fact that it’s shrouded in Latin doesn’t change the fact that it’s the revised Mass that did away with many Catholic traditions and became more ecumenical and charismatic. I grew up attending a liberal, charismatic Catholic church and I naturally thought of it as “normal”, knowing no other way of celebrating Mass.

After moving to Silver Spring in 2005, I started attending St. John the Evangelist parish, which is but a five minute walk from my doorstep. I quickly noticed how orthodox everything was. Masses were centered more on the fundamentals and less on making the congregation “feel good”.

Looking back, Mass at my old charismatic church was akin to a town hall meeting, with all the shaking hands, smiling, and welcoming that we were encouraged to participate in. And, given the fact that the Pastoral Council tried to shoehorn large helpings of ecumenicism and multiculturalism into every Mass, I ended up spending many Sunday mornings relearning many Catholic (and Protestant!) hymns and responses in Spanish, Tagalog, Swahili, or whatever else they happened to throw at us. This approach may be appealing to many people, but deep down, I longed for something more quiet and more reverent that I knew had to exist somewhere.

As it turns out, Traditional Latin Masses were happening right under my nose. The “Old Church” of St. John’s has been holding such Masses in conjunction with Our Lady Queen of Poland parish, which has shared the building since 1977. How this tidbit of information never reached me until now is a complete mystery. I had the fortune of attending the Mass this past Sunday; I’m sure that I’ll be attending many more. My grandparents have even expressed interest in attending as well. “It’ll be just like the olden days,” my grandmother said.

It did feel like I was going back in time. The women were wearing hats and various head-coverings, and many of the men were in suits. In fact, I felt slightly out of place in my dress slacks and long-sleeve Oxford. It was a Low Mass, so there was no singing of any kind. The only music occurred at the prelude and at the very end. The priest was “mic’ed” only during the readings and the homily, which were the only English parts of the Mass. There were long stretches of time when the priest was facing the altar and had his back to the congregation. Many of the Latin prayers were barely discernible and still more were spoken in a whisper or were simply mouthed. Communion was different as well. Instead standing in lines, congregants knelt at the gate in front of the pews, and the priest would walk back and forth, issuing the Eucharist. As congregants went back to their pews, others knelt in their place.

It was an entirely different experience — miles away from my old “quasi-charismatic” Catholic church, and the polar opposite of many mainline Protestant services/explosions. Needless to say, I felt entirely at home.

Saturday, 21 October 2006


Annie and me saying our vows. Annie and I were married at 11am on Saturday, October 21, 2006 at the Historic Chapel of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Gaithersburg, Md. The weather was perfect: bright, clear, and brisk. My grandparents, the groomsmen, and I greeted guests until about 10 minutes till. Then, Msgr. Paul, my best man Ray, and I assembled in the rectory while my nerves went haywire. Msgr. Paul then took our hands and said a prayer. Before I knew it, we were walking around the altar; Ray and I took our places.

After a couple of gathering songs that I wasn’t really paying attention to, the organ then belted out Wagner’s wedding march, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen started walking down the aisle. As Annie stood at the doorway of the chapel, the sunlight hit her white dress and temporarily made her glow. I will never forget her smile as she walked arm and arm with her father. He escorted my bride to the sanctuary steps and lifted her veil. We took our seats and tried not to reveal our nervous enthusiasm. When the actual marriage sacrament began, we both became more relaxed. Msgr. Paul helped, too, with his whispered comments to us like: “I’m gonna take care of you both..” and “Don’t worry about a thing…”

During the nuptial blessing, I remember thinking, “Gee, they’re making all this fuss just for us. Everyone is here for us. We were blessed to have not only St. Rose’s pastor, Paul Dudziak, but their finest cantor, Alice Henning and their former director of music, Nancy Novelly. The former has a beautiful, effortless soprano; the latter is a virtuoso at the piano and organ. Their presence really helped; it was much better than having “just anyone” in those roles.

Outside after the wedding We walked down the aisle together and were followed by the wedding party. One of my groomsmen had the fortunate experience of escorting not one but two bridesmaids. After a brief rendezvous around a fountain in the church garden, we went back into the church for an extended photo session. What we didn’t know until later was that, while the session was taking place, most of our wedding guests were congregating outside the church, apparently waiting for us to come out and say hello.

Our photographer, J. Stuart Harris, had a way of being commanding and authoritative without being bossy. He was definitely in control (and organized) and squeezed some fine pictures out of us in record time. All the while, our faithful videographer, Dean Dykema, documented everything while preserving our spontaneity. When the church photo session was over, we headed outdoors to take advantage of the fall colors (see second photo).

After the outdoor session, we all drove over to my parents’, who were hosting a luncheon for a few dozen guests. We made our appearance, grabbed a few roast beef stuffed tortilla wraps, and then headed back to the townhouse to prepare for the Thai wedding ceremony and reception, held at New Fortune restaurant in Gaithersburg. We arrived there a few hours early to set up the tables and the Phakhuane tree for the Phiti Bai Sri Su Kwan (Holy Threads) ceremony (see third photo).

The ceremony is just a small part of a traditional Thai wedding. Another part would have been a parade from the groom’s house to the bride’s house. That would have meant a seven mile walk up Georgia Avenue in traffic. Oh, and I would have had to yodel a lot. That would have not been good.

Annie and I came up with this text for a postcard we sent out with the invitations:

Annie and me at New Fortune The Phakhuane (pron. PA-kwon) is a conical-shaped floral arrangement that is the central focus of the Bai Sri Su Kwan ceremony. It is traditionally prepared by respected elders who have had long and happy marriages. At the base of the Phakhuane is food that represents fertility, such as rice, eggs, fruit, et cetera. Flowers are placed throughout the Phakhuane as decoration; in between them are the Holy Threads. At the very top sits a burning candle.

When everyone is seated, we bow down to our parents. This is a time to reflect upon the good and the bad, the past, present, and future. We bow down to thank them for everything they’ve done for us and to ask for their forgiveness for any wrongdoing that we’ve done. It’s also a time for our parents to give us their blessing. The wedding officiator will take the holy threads and place them between our hands as we pray. We will be seated on the floor in front of the Phakhuane opposite from the officiator and surrounded by friends and family.

We will all sit in a prayer position during the ceremony while the officiator chants his blessings and advice for us. He will then ask everyone to call to the spirits (or kwan) to come. Since weddings are big transitions, this is traditionally done to ask the kwan of the bride and groom to come together. Afterward, the guests take the holy threads from the Phakhuane and tie them around our wrists. This is a chance for the guests to give us their blessings and advice for a happy marriage. Please join us to “Thai the Knot!”

The ceremony lasted about an hour; it seemed that nearly everyone in attendance knelt down with us and tied holy threads around our wrists. We were pleasantly surprised at the turnout. Following the ceremony was dinner and dancing. We didn’t get to eat but a few bites of food, as we went around to all the tables for photographs. The food looked really good, though. We were too wound up to notice that we were hungry.

Barry Lyons was our master of ceremonies and DJ for the evening. He can be considered a “freelance” DJ, as he has a fine day job as well. Barry was a must-have for the reception — in fact, we changed our wedding date to accommodate Barry’s schedule! It was well worth it. He gets a lot of gigs through word of mouth, and for good reason. He can get a dance floor jumping and is a master at getting the crowds to participate. Even with the language barrier with some of Annie’s guests, he got them to do strange, American traditions like the Hokey-Pokey, the Chicken Dance, and the YMCA.

Annie and I were seriously on autopilot by then, and smiled at anything that remotely looked like a camera. We danced for hours and the crowd started thinning out at around 11:30 or so.

Sunday, 16 April 2006

Why not the Pesach blood as well?

In reply to Eric Meyer’s recent post:

Why not the Pesach blood as well?

Most of the modern seder is based upon God’s explicit instructions as recorded in Exodus. Below are some comments I wrote on the subject: Seder and the Night of Deliverance

Now, I must admit that Exodus 12:23-27 basically says to observe the ceremony of spreading lamb’s blood on the door frames as a “lasting ordinance”. However, most Jews today also do not observe the Sin Offerings, Guilt Offerings, and Burnt Offerings as depicted in Leviticus 5 and elsewhere, probably more out of practicality than out of indifference.

Of course, Christians today do not observe these instructions because Christ fulfilled the laws of Moses and became the last sacrifice.

Friday, 3 February 2006

Good humor always contains an element of truth

Everybody’s more upset with this cartoon than they are about the suicide/homicide bombers that [Muslim extremists] make of their little kids.
Rush Limbaugh

See also: The Cowardly American Media

Friday, 20 January 2006

David Friedman on Public Schools

I found an interesting article by David Friedman, son of acclaimed economist Milton Friedman. He takes a strident position on the current evolution/intelligent design debate:

A school that teaches that evolution is false is taking sides in a religious dispute — but so does a school that teaches that evolution is true.

The problem is broader than evolution. In the process of educating children, one must take positions on what is true or false. Over a wide range of issues, such a claim is either the affirmation of a religious position or the denial of a religious position. Any decent scientific account of geology, paleontology, what we know about the distant past, is also a denial of the beliefs of (among others) fundamentalist Christians. To compel children to go to schools, paid for by taxes, in which they are taught that their religious beliefs are false, is not neutrality.

Freidman is an atheist, and as such, probably sides with evolution. His views are nonetheless refreshing.