Irish Papist

Irish Papist
Statute of the Blessed Virgin in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Church, UCD Belfield

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Powerful Video from Roaming Millennial

Why Islam hates the West.

I don't consider myself a "Westerner"-- I'm Catholic and I'm Irish, and that's it-- and I'm not anti-Muslim, but I think she's absolutely right. The excuse-making has to end.

Musings of an INFJ

Do you believe in the Myers-Briggs personality test? I'm not sure I do. I know that professional psychologists are quite dismissive of it. However, I find it very interesting. Even if it's a load of cock-a-doodle, it is now a bona fide part of folklore.

We did the test in my secondary school-- in religion class!-- when I was about sixteen. Being a dyed-in-the-wool snob, I was delighted that I came out as an INFJ, which is the rarest of all the types, between one and three per cent of the population. I took the test again a few years ago, on Facebook, and once again the result was INFJ-- which is the rarest of all the types.

INFJ stands for "Introverted, intuitive, feeling and judging". Other INFJs include (apparently): Alanis Morisette, George Harrison, Leonard Cohen, Plato, Dante, Hitler, Trotsky, Billy Crystal, Nicole Kidman....I don't know when exactly Adolf Hitler took the test, but this is what the internet tells me.

Without wanting to be blasphemous, I might note that some websites list Our Lord as an INFJ!

When I first read the INFJ personality description, I thought much of it fitted pretty well. Of course, I'm aware of the "Barnum effect", but what did Barnum know? I doubt he was an INFJ.

People join INFJ forums and communities-- I even briefly joined a Christian INFJ Facebook page myself. Anything that brings people together and adds to the gaiety of nations, right?

So here is my parsing of Wikipedia's description of an INFJ, and how it applies to me:

INFJs are conscientious and value-driven. I think this is true, although my conscientiousness is highly selective.

They seek meaning in relationships, ideas, and events, with an eye toward better understanding themselves and others. Half-true. I seek meaning for the sake of meaning. I also seek to understand myself and others, but the quest for meaning is independent of that.

Using their intuitive skills, they develop a clear and confident vision, which they then set out to execute, aiming to better the lives of others. I actually think the first part of this is very true. I do have a clear  and confident vision, and it's based mostly on intuition. And I do try to propagate it, if not execute it.

However, am I trying to "better the lives of others?". I think the Ireland and the world I envisage would be a more interesting and rewarding place. Indirectly, I suppose it would better the lives of others. However, in many ways it might materially worsen them. 

Like their INTJ counterparts, INFJs regard problems as opportunities to design and implement creative solutions. How wrong can you get? I am the worse person in the world at problem solving and my immediate response to a problem is "Oh no! All is lost!". (I hope no prospective employer ever reads this...)

INFJs are believed to adapt easily in social situations due to their complex understanding of an individual's motivations; however, they are true introverts.
I don't know if I adapt easily in social situations. I think I do have a pretty complex understanding of peoples' motivations...but only over time. I'm nearly always wrong about people at first. Yes, I'm a true introvert.

 INFJs are private individuals who prefer to exercise their influence behind the scenes. No. I enjoy the limelight. I like exercising influence behind the scenes as well, though.

Though they are very independent, INFJs are intensely interested in the well-being of others. Ouch. Other than intellectual independence, I lack pretty much every other kind of independence. And I'm not "intensely interested in the well-being of others". I wish I was. I tend to live in a world of ideas and atmospheres. I do care about the well-being of others, but in a very selective and erratic way.

INFJs prefer one-on-one relationships to large groups. Oh boy, do I ever.

Sensitive and complex, they are adept at understanding complicated issues and driven to resolve differences in a cooperative and creative manner. I'm sensitive and complex, but I'm not adept at understanding complex issues. I try to resolve personal differences in a cooperative and creative manner, and think I'm often quite good at it. When it comes to a public cause, though-- fight to the death, no compromise!

INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large
. I'm deeply concerned about my relations with individuals, but it's shameful how little time I spent thinking of the state of humanity at large-- God forgive me!

They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. Maybe. Sometimes, when I tell people I'm very shy, they don't believe me because they've only ever seen me amongst people I know quite well. A girl I knew in college told me she was confused by me because I always spoke in class but I never spoke out of class. And yes, I am genuinely interested in people-- I'm intensely interested in their opinions, values, view of the world, experiences, etc.

INFJs are said to have a rich, vivid inner life that they may be reluctant to share with those around them. My inner life is so "vivid and rich" that I can share it with the world via this blog, and other outlets, and still have tons of it left over, which I do enjoy keeping to myself.

Nevertheless, they are congenial in their interactions and perceptive of the emotions of others. Yep.

Generally well liked by their peers... This is hit and miss. A fair amount of people seem to like me, while I get the distinct impression that quite a lot of people don't like me at all.

...they may often be considered close friends and confidants by most other types; I've developed close friendships in the last decade or so, although before that I didn't even really have distant friendships. People sometimes confide in me, but not notably often.

...however, they are guarded in expressing their own feelings, especially to new people, and tend to establish close relationships slowly. Personally, I don't think this is true, but I'm told it is. People often tell me what a private person I am. I don't think I'm private at all. I think I'm constantly telling people my ideas and emotions. However, I do keep some areas off-limits, so this might be where the perception arises. Yes, I develop close relationships very slowly indeed.

INFJs may "silently withdraw as a way of setting limits" rather than expressing their wounded feelings—a behavior that may leave others confused and upset. Yes, I do, and I don't care if they're "confused and upset"-- they've been such jerks they deserve it.

INFJs tend to be sensitive, quiet leaders with a great depth of personality. I don't think I've ever been a leader of anything. Sensitive? Yes. Quiet? No. Great depth of personality? Who would answer "no" to this one?

They are intricately, deeply woven, quilt-like, mysterious, highly complex, and often puzzling, even to themselves. Amen, sister!

They have an orderly view toward the world but are internally arranged in a complex way that only they can understand. I think this is true. People often think I am being inconsistent when I feel I am being entirely consistent.

Abstract in communicating, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Oh yeah.

With a natural affinity for art, INFJs tend to be creative and easily inspired, yet they may also do well in the sciences, aided by their intuition. Creative? I hope so. As for "easily inspired", perhaps the reader is smiling ruefully at this, thinking of my tendency to write a three thousand word blog post about something I saw on my morning commute. The sciences bore me to tears.

So there you go. There is my assessment of how my own personality tallies with the personality description of the INFJ, which is the rarest of all the types.

The Pleasures of Library Work

A student just came looking for an Italian-English dictionary and I searched for such dictionaries on our online catalogue. While scanning through the list I came across this title:

Elsevier's oil and gas field dictionary in six languages : English-American, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and German / compiled by L.Y. Chaballe, L. Masuy and J.-P. Vandenberghe with an Arabic supplement by Shawky Salem.

And I felt an intense pleasure that such a book exists, and is to be found on the shelves of the library. That the world we live in is such a world that such a book on such a subject exists.

I'm often struck by this pleasure.

Latin Mass Question

A question for my readers. How many of you attend the Latin Mass, how many of you attend the New Mass (for want of a better term), and how many of you attend both? And why? And what is your attitude towards each?

I'm surprised by how many of my readers are Latin Mass people.

If you're shy about commenting, feel free to email me at

Thick and Thin

When I was on Facebook, one of my Facebook friends posted these words: "I'm not a cafeteria Catholic. I'm an all-you-can-eat Catholic." I thought that was brilliant, and expressed so much of the appeal of Catholicism.

Catholicism is so rich-- intellectually, sensually, emotionally, socially, historically, artistically. And not only rich, but intense.

Personally I am on the side of that which makes life richer, thicker, more intense, deeper, fuller. And I'm against whatever makes life thinner, shallower and dimmer.

Of course, Catholicism says "no" in many places where the modern world says "yes". It closes off avenues that the modern world wants to keep open. But the ultimate outcome of these prohibitions is more, not less. Thicker, not thinner. Deeper, not shallower.

If we are going to be Catholics, I think we should practice thick Catholicism, not thin Catholicism. We should have holy pictures in our homes and on our desk at work (although I understand this latter might sometimes be too dicey, depending on your avocation). We should invoke God in our conversation. We should practice devotions. Nobody should ever be in any doubt that our faith is the centre of our lives.

I feel the same way about nationalism. I have nothing but disdain for a perfunctory patriotism-- one particular flavour of multiculturalism or globalism. Let's have full-blown romantic nationalism or nothing.

Herod Laughs

So, the so-called Citizens Assembly has reached its pre-ordained conclusion and called for the liberalisation of Ireland's abortion laws, giving the government an excuse to hold a referendum.

I pray almost every day for Ireland to be protected from abortion. (Of course, our laws against abortion have already been weakened.) I'd urge readers to pray the same.

Abortion, to me, is perhaps the strongest argument against the theory that "it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you're a good person." I have never heard a good argument for abortion, and I actually refuse to accept that anyone can seriously believe that the killing of the unborn is legitimate.The fact that the majority in most modern societies have convinced themselves that it's OK only show that metaphysics matters.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Shelving the Life Skills Books

One of my more menial duties in the library is the shelving of the Life Skills collection of books. The Life Skills collection is actually two separate collections-- the Health and Well-Being collection, and the Study Skills collection. The Study Skills collection is a collection of books about essay-writing, study techniques, CV-writing, and so forth. The Health and Well-Being collection is a collection of books about physical and mental health, travel, cooking, and stuff like that.

Even though it's a menial and routine duty, I've found that this is one of my favourite jobs. Every time I shelve the Life Skills books, I fall into a strange, contemplative mood, one which I feel an urge to describe, but which is difficult to describe.

It's the nature of the books themselves that provoke this reaction. It's something I've tried to describe before on this blog; I wonder if it's of any interest or relevance to anyone besides me. But the itch of a scribbler is precisely to put into words these elusive but powerful impressions.

The Life Skills collection contains both books about depression and bereavement on the one hand, and books about desserts and foreign travel on the other. Somehow the combination of the two creates this contemplative, pleasant atmosphere.

Everything in human life, as I see it, is set against the ever-present shadow of mortality, failure, inadequacy, conflict, disease, and all the other things that afflict mankind. This might sound depressing. I guess it is, in a way. But in another way, it throws a brilliant light of contrast on everything pleasant, trivial, or even humdrum in life. The fact that anyone has time, money or inclination to bake a cake seems like a wonder-- a tiny planet gleaming in the void and darkness of space.

Even the dark stuff sometimes seems strangely affirmative to me. I tried to explain this in a recent post. Shelving books about bereavement, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and so forth, makes me think: "Well, these things exist, these things happen, but they're not the end of the world. There are books about them, with reassuring covers." And the fact that there are books about bereavement comforts me on another level, because nothing seems more brutal to me than the fact that, on a certain day, someone stops breathing and we simply put him or her in the ground, after a few hours of various rituals. It's good that we grieve. It's even good that we have to "work through" various things in life, because it shows we care, and that things matter, and that life is a big deal. The idea of a world of robots where everybody went about their business, or their pleasures, without nary a stumble, confusion, or backward look is my biggest nightmare.

There's a scene in the U.S. Office where Ryan, the selfish and narcissistic character played by B.J. Novak, is trying to blame past misdeeds on his former self-- "Ryan 1.0", as he says. "I think I never processed 9/11", he claims. I found this utterly hilarious, when I first saw it. I have a theory that part of the reason we find something very funny is because we find it pleasing-- usually in some way that is not immediately apparent to us. The idea that such a self-serving character might still be processing 9/11 so many years later was indeed strangely comforting to me. Even the fact that he thought of saying it is pleasing.

So I enjoy shelving the Life Skill books for this reason. But there's more to it than that. Somehow, it always puts me in the mood I describe in this post, which I wrote years ago-- a love, not only of the ordinary, but even of the banal.

I feel this atmosphere in very specific situations. Hotel and airport bathrooms, especially when they are filled with soft music. Discount home supplies stores. While watching (or thinking about) advertisements for music compilations, such as those that Telstar Records used to advertise on TV in the eighties. While reading about TV shows of previous decades, and thinking of all the living rooms they were beamed into, and all the families that occupied those living rooms. The sight of a city street as evening descends. The sit-com show Cheers

Often, because I'm a social and cultural conservative, I feel contemporary society is excessively banal and trivial, and doesn't do justice to the depths and grandeur of the human condition. But at other times-- or not even at other times, but often at the same time-- the human condition seems all too deep, all too grand, and there is something blessedly comforting about all that is banal, trivial and ephemeral. (As long as it is not crass-- but then again, crassness is in the eye of the beholder.)