Author Archives

Who is Funky Dung?

29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic.

I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil.

Why Funky Dung?

I haven’t been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It’s broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means “cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit”, as in “That’s some cool stuff, dude!”

Whence Ales Rarus?

I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I’ve decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. “Avis rarus” means “a rare bird” and carries similar meaning to “an odd fellow”. “Ales” is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both “avis” and “ales” are feminine (requiring “rara”, but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I’d rather have a masculine name in Latin. πŸ˜‰ Yeah, I’m a nerd. So what? πŸ˜›

Wherefore blog?

It is my intention to “teach in order to lead others to faith” by being always “on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful” through the “use of the communications media”. I also act knowing that I “have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.” (adapted from CCC 904-907)

Statement of Faith

I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements.

I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles’ Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.

Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church.

I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter.

Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces.

May He take full possession of me for ever.
May His divine unction cause my face to shine.
May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart.
May His understanding enlighten my darkness.
May His counsel guide me.
May His knowledge instruct me.
May His piety make me fervent.
May His divine fear keep me from all evil.
Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it.

Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005)

I try to avoid most memes that make their way ’round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don’t

we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the “interview game” that’s the talk o’

the ‘sphere. I think it’s a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your

neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood…*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback.

Anyhow, I saw Jeff “Curt Jester”

Miller’s answers and figured since he’s a regular reader of mine he’d be a good interviewer. Without

further ado, here are my answers to his questions.

1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you

favorite Pink Floyd song and why?

Wow. That’s a tuffy. It’s hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn’t really a band known for

singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to

pick one, though, it’d be “Comfortably Numb”. I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if

it’s been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don’t know why. That’s a rather

unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It’s not their best piece of music,

but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man

He’s a rebel and a runner
He’s a signal turning green
He’s a restless young romantic
Wants to run the big machine

He’s got a problem with his poisons
But you know he’ll find a cure
He’s cleaning up his systems
To keep his nature pure

Learning to match the beat of the old world man
Learning to catch the heat of the third world man

He’s got to make his own mistakes
And learn to mend the mess he makes
He’s old enough to know what’s right
But young enough not to choose it
He’s noble enough to win the world
But weak enough to lose it —
He’s a new world man…

He’s a radio receiver

Tuned to factories and farms
He’s a writer and arranger
And a young boy bearing arms

He’s got a problem with his power
With weapons on patrol
He’s got to walk a fine line
And keep his self-control

Trying to save the day for the old world man
Trying to pave the way for the third world man

He’s not concerned with yesterday
He knows constant change is here today
He’s noble enough to know what’s right
But weak enough not to choose it
He’s wise enough to win the world

But fool enough to lose it —

He’s a new world man…

2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church.

At some point in ’99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of

obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that’s what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately

to have faith again. At that point I think I’d decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the

Catholic Church did. Protestantism’s wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn’t sit well with me,

even as a former Lutheran.

During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called “Handbook for Today’s Catholic“. One paragraph

in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.

“A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself.

Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite – a sign of growing faith.

Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a

particular doctrine of faith no longer ‘makes sense’ to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To

know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is

something else. When in doubt, ‘Seek and you will find.’ The person who seeks y reading, discussing,

thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is ‘not there’ is

alive with faith.

At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil.

3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever


I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews

of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it’ll be cool when it’s finished. πŸ™‚

4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman?

“Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.”

5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be?

That’s a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of
Marty Haugen and David Haas
, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick

one, though, I’d probably pick “Sing

of the Lord’s Goodness” by Ernie Sands.

Is There Anybody Out There?

Between being busy with grad school, becoming a father, and spending a lot of time on Twitter, I didn’t have much time to keep this venerable old blog going. To be honest, though, I didn’t have much desire to either. I’m sure I’ll come back here some day, but I felt the need to start […]

Neighborhood Walk

Today my son and I participated in the Rust Belt Bloggers’ Neighborhood Walk. I pushed him around a section of Squirrel Hill and took pictures at most intersections and few other places. map of route photo set

2008 Race for Pace 5K

Well, I didn’t finish the Race for Pace in under 25 minutes, as I’d hoped. Still, I can’t be too disappointed. Running on a very hilly course just one week after running a grueling half marathon, I finished in 25:20. Not bad. πŸ™‚

A Tale of Two Races: 2008 Great Race 10K and Chamber Classic Half Marathon

It was the best of races. It was the worst of races. On September 28, I ran a PR in the Great Race, finishing in 50:49. That’s more than 3 minutes faster than last year’s 53:56. The only way I could have been happier is if I’d broken 50 minutes. The Chamber Classic half marathon […]

Belated Birth Announcement

Sorry for taking so long to do this. I’m sure those who preceded me in parenthood understand how non-existent my free time is. πŸ˜‰ On Monday, September 1, 2008, my first child was born. Alexander Craig Williams arrived at 4:28 AM after 7 hours of drug-free labor, weighing 7lbs 2oz and measuring 20.5in. Woot! πŸ™‚