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You're one click away from AoftheA's most recent posts:

Today Is The Day
Get ready for it.
Okay Then, That Was Unexpected...
Weird.
Church Art Shouldn't Make You Say "Blech!"
Or cringe.
Cardinal Urges Priests To Liven Up Sermons
I got some ideas...
New Translation Objections Are Becoming More Ridiculous
Grasping at straws...
This Comes As No Surprise
Up with the ex-communicated!
Things A Catholic Ought Never Say
Watch your mouth!
Sister Patricia: On Seven Quick-Takes Friday
Catching up with Sr Pat.
Just Thought You'd Like To Know...
A public service announcement.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

Ready?

Here it is.

AoftheA has moved to Wordpress. Pardon the moving boxes and clutter - it'll be cleaned up in no time!

So sayonara, Blogger.

Comments at AoftheA 1.0 will be turned off from now on.

If you want to follow the fun, click the link. Looking forward to seeing all of you (and I do mean all of you!) at the new site.

Today Is The Day

Big announcement coming today - I'm predicting 5:00 PM EST. Be ready!


I know! The suspense is killing you! Except for that black dude, who's sleeping.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Okay Then, That Was Unexpected...

For about 3-1/2 hours today, my blog was off-line. Those of you who tried to access AoftheA were probably surprised to see that it no longer existed. Not sure what the problem was, but it seems to be cleared up - for the moment. You never know...

Nonetheless, I will be making a biiiiiiiiiig change here at AoftheA over the next few days. Stay tuned.

To those whom I emailed this afternoon - thanks for your support.

Regular blogging will resume shortly.

Church Art Shouldn't Make You Say "Blech!"

When it comes to art, my mantra is basically "I may not know much, but I know what I like." At the very least, I can tell the difference between beauty and ugliness.

And when it comes to art in churches - statues, iconography, stained glass images - well, it ought to both reflect and project beauty. It ought to reflect the beauty, truth and goodness of God, creator of all things, as best presented by the artist's hands and imagination. And it also ought to project the blessed beauty of our final end - heaven, and eternal union with God. It ought to be beautiful, as well as draw us towards Beauty.

If the work of art fails to do either of those two things, then it should not be anywhere near a church.

One problem with the progressive mentality in the Catholic Church is that it seeks to destroy the good and the true and the beautiful, and erect in its place the grotesque and the false and the ugly. It then defends itself by saying "Beauty is subjective", or "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Then it tries to convince you that the New is superior to the Old, mainly because it is Different and progresses towards something. This has happened in my parish.

On either side of the sanctuary stand two alcoves. In one, there was a lifesize reproduction of the Pieta; in the other, a shrine to the Blessed Mother. The statue of Mary was painted, traditional, beautiful. A bank of votive candles stood before her.

They were removed recently by the pastor. Beyond the fact that he's somewhat progressive, I was told that he felt the Pieta "disturbed" children because it depicted such a sad scene. Using that logic, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before the crucifix is replaced with a "Resurrection Jesus" superimposed upon a cross. I don't know the rationale for having taken away the Blessed Mother statue, but I'm sure the reason was just as flimsy.

These were replaced with two new statues, wood carvings that are better viewed than described (although the pictures don't do their hideousness justice):


In case you couldn't tell, the top one is of Blessed Mother Mary, the other is St. Joseph with a young Christ. Except that's not what they're called. No, the female one, while it is of Mary, is actually called "Starving Palestinian". The other goes by something along the lines of "Bedouin". I kid you not.

I'm not sure what the significance of the arm placement in the top statue (I'm sorry, but I can't bring myself to say it represents Mary). Usually she's depicted with hands folded, or spread out with palms up, or similar positions. This image tells me she's being closed and withholding grace from us. It's very disconcerting. The other statue? If someone didn't tell me it represented St. Joseph, I never would have guessed it. The misshapen head is enough to make me look away.

And where are the halos?

Now, many parishoners have complained to the pastor about these new additions. To one, he said "just stand in front of them and look. They'll grow on you." Excuse me, father, but holy art isn't designed to "grow on you". Moss grows on you. Cobwebs grow on you. Bacteria grows on you. Holy art ought to uplift, inspire and show us the face of God. To lead to meditation and contemplation. For me, these statues cannot do that.

Some of the parishoners have put together a petition to have the statues removed - which I readily signed.

Oh - and get this. The artist's wife? I learned she runs reiki sessions out of their studio. Yeah.

Those unholy statues have no business being on consecrated ground.

What do you think?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cardinal Urges Priests To Liven Up Sermons

That's what the article says.

From The Telegraph:
Sermons delivered by Catholic priests are often painfully "grey and dull" and need to be livened up with the "scandal" contained within the Bible, the Vatican's most senior cultural official said.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said preaching in churches had become so formulaic and boring that it risked becoming "irrelevant" to congregations accustomed to the excitement and immediacy of television and the internet."

The advent of televised and computerised information requires us to be compelling and trenchant, to cut to the heart of the matter, resort to narratives and colour," said the cardinal, who as the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture is the Vatican's unofficial minister for culture.

Too many priests employed theological language that was "grey, dull and flavourless" and instead should spice up their sermons with graphic stories contained in the Bible, which used much more forceful imagery.The Bible was "crowded with stories, symbols and images," he said.

Speaking at a conference in Rome, he said Twitter was also an effective way of spread the Word of God.

"We need to remember that communicating faith doesn't just take place through sermons. It can be achieved through the 140 characters of a Twitter message."

Cardinal Ravasi, a champion of new media who writes a blog for the website of Italy's respected financial daily, Il Sole 24 Ore, said that whether they liked it or not, priests in the pulpit should be aware that their congregations were "the children of television and the internet."
I think the cardinal is onto something here.

In case some of you priests out there are thinking the cardinal is talking about you, let me suggest some techniques you might want to mull over, should you be considering his advice.

1) Puppets. Always a big hit.

2) Try preaching like this guy. He's got style.



3) Pre-record your homily and then Auto-tune it, like the "Turtle Fence" song, or the "Backin' Up" song.

4) Utilize laser light shows (might cause epileptic seizures, so have your congregation sign waivers before hand) or fog machines for dramatic effect.

5) If your church has TV screens hanging throughout the nave (such as my parish does), you could augment your homily with 3-D effects. Call it "Trinity-Vision". And if your church doesn't have TV screens, get them!


5) Sing to the congregation - I've heard of one bishop who does that, so it's cool. Sit at the piano and serenade your sermon, or break out a Stratocaster and play Stairway to Heaven while preaching about eternity. But rap is right out!

6) Wander amidst the congregation and ask random parishoners questions to make them feel awkward and embarrassed. That'll liven up your sermon for sure!

7) Have parishoners "act out" the sermon as you preach it. Or maybe even the Gospel, like my parish did for the Feast of the Annunciation. Seeing those two kids dressed up as Mary and Gabriel brought a tear to my eye...

Whatever you do, though, don't preach Truth, straight up, no chaser. There's no entertainment value in that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Translation Objections Are Becoming More Ridiculous


The introduction of the New Missal is mere weeks away - the first Sunday of Advent. I believe that the closer we come to full implementation, we'll be seeing more and more weird articles and opinion pieces objecting to it. Kinda like a throw-everything-you-got-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach.

You see, there are quite a few who are perturbed about the translations, for various reasons. The usual wellsprings of consternation - the National Catholic Distorter and USCatholyc, for example - are still venting about it. It's been kinda non-stop since the whole matter surfaced.

At first it was annoying - remember the "What If We Said Just Wait?" petition, started by a priest out in Seattle? I think that had more anonymous signatures than actual names. In any case, that project has lost much of its momentum.

But now it's getting comical.

Last week, the Distorter trotted out a 16-year old Latin whiz-kid (their description, not mine) to dissect the translation.

And just the other day, Brian Cones at the USCatholyc wrote a piece which relied on his dad's opinion. That's one way of making this personal, I guess.

The NCD and USCatholic must be struggling in coming up with legitimate sources to present their cases if they're now relying on teenagers and family members. They must have exhausted their rolodex of go-to folks for analysis and punditry. So who's going to be next? The water meter reader? The girl at the Tim Horton's drive thru?

In any case, I'm looking forward to future objections. I need the laughs.

Monday, November 7, 2011

This Comes As No Surprise

From Call-to-Action:
2011 Call To Action Leadership Award: Sr. Margaret McBride, RSM.

In November 2009, Sister Margaret McBride, an administrator at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, assisted in the decision to save the life of a patient who was 11 weeks pregnant and suffering pulmonary hypertension. Medical providers determined that death of both the 27-year-old woman and her 11-week of fetus would occur unless the pregnancy was terminated.

Call To Action recognizes Sr. Margaret’s careful work with a complex issue, her courage in a time of censorship and public pressure, and her witness to the need to stand firm in the face of opposition while striving to protect life in all its venues.

Further proof that Call-to-Apostasy ain't Catholic - recognizing the ex-communicated. The "award" was given this past weekend in Milwaukee at the CTA National Confernce.

UPDATE: Saw this video over at CMR, of McBride accepting the award. Watch it if you have the stomach for it.

Things A Catholic Ought Never Say

There are certain phrases and slogans that should never pass a Catholic's lips. I'm not merely thinking of "I'm personally opposed, but..." or "Keep the Pope out of my bedroom" here (as if PBXVI wants to go into people's bedrooms! sheesh!) - those are pretty obvious. Such utterances belie the fact that such folks are more interested in maintaining their place in certain social circles or good graces with family members than living authentically as Catholics. You know - hang on to the good things about the faith without having to sacrifice anything. At which point, they ain't got any faith at all.

There are other phrases and slogans I have in mind, whereby the speaker attempts to justify the way they live their faith or they criticize Church teaching, all the while acting as if they're the reasonable, faithful ones.

Such as (in no particular order) -

"Challenge authority. Jesus did." Uh, no he didn't. Not really. Especially when you consider he IS the authority. What he did do was chastise some in authority for their hypocritical actions and unjust prescriptions. But he never thumbed his nose at them. In fact, he exhorted the people to obey those who occupied the seat of Moses, but not to follow their example. And what about the crucifixion? Seems to me that instead of challenging authority, he submitted to it.

"Good Catholics Use Condoms". Uh, no they don't. Not ever. This is a campaign run by Catholics For Choice, and it's as insidious as they come. Good Catholics avoid artificial contraception. Weak Catholics - and giving the benefit of the doubt, we can include uninformed Catholics (and even improperly taught ones, too) - use artificial contraception. And yes, there are those who summarily disregard Church teaching, and yet dare to call themselves 'good' Catholics. Catholics who ought to know better - and the nefarious natters at CfC fall into that category - don't encourage other Catholics to sin against God and each other. That's not the definition of a good Catholic.

"Do what you feel is right." Catholics ought to say "Do what you know is right". We have the benefit of a magisterium, a Catechism, the saints - so much available to guide us in how to live, to make the right choices, to arrive at conclusions rationally and logically. But hey - it's easy to fall into the trap of relying on our feelings to make decisions. After all, when we feel cold, we turn up the heat. When we feel sad, we seek solace. When we feel lonely, we call a friend. Those are simple examples. But sometimes our feelings can lead us to making poor decisions. Like, just because it feels right to have sex with your girlfriend, doesn't mean it is right. Far from it. And just because it feels right to do a new-agey thing like reiki or whatever, doesn't mean it is right.

"The Church hates women." For any Catholic to say this is utterly shameful. And it's only based on one issue - women's ordination. It's patently obvious that this is so untrue, regardless of any of the pro-ordination crowd propaganda. When you hear a Catholic repeat this refrain, spare no ammo in shooting this bogus claim down.

"I'm spiritual, not religious." Oh, gag me with a prune. This declaration is is asinine as it is meaningless - especially for a Catholic to say it. Y'know, Jesus was both spiritual and religious, so when a Catholic says this, what they're really saying is that they can be good without being like Christ. How much sense does that make? Absolutely none, that's how much.

I'm sure there are other phrases - you could even include "Glee is my favorite show!" Which ones would you add?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sister Patrica: On Seven Quick-Takes Friday

(Sister Patricia Owens O'Flannery, OP, a post-modern pre-traditional omni-spiritual Dominican sister, periodically contributes to AoftheA.)

Greetings, dear readers! May the fresh and comforting embrace of the Autumn Spirit keep you safe and secure in these unsettling times.

I profusely apologize for posting so infrequently. There really is no excuse, except that I truly have been extremely busy. I think the best way to get you all caught up with what I've been doing - and there's been so much! - is to hop on this cute little meme I found called "7 Quick Takes Friday". Have you seen this? Seven is such a deep profound mystical number, how could I not resist?




~ 1 ~

I've been performing a one-woman play (that I wrote, by the way!) called "The Book Of PolyEsther: A Morality Play On The Life And Times Of A Progressive Sister Trapped In A Regressive System Run By Oppressive People". It's a big hit at the motherhouse, let me tell you. I've even played to sold-out living rooms at intentional eucharistic communities all over. So that has been taking up much of my time. If you'd like me to come to your parish and give a performance or two, email me!

~ 2 ~

I'm so upset that I won't be able to attend the Call-to-Action National Conference being held in Milwaukee this weekend. I was even planning on performing my play, but as sure as Fate weaves her web of chance and coincidence, I sustained an injury last weekend. Oh, nothing serious, so don't concern yourselves! It's actually quite silly. You see, every year our order runs a Corn Labyrinth and Haunted Hayride for the Halloween celebrations. Well, I was driving the tractor that towed the hay wagon, when all of a sudden one of the sisters came out of the woods dressed as Dick Cheney, holding a rifle! It was sooo scary! I forgot she was part of the haunted hayride, can you believe it? Anyway, I leapt off the tractor fearing I was about to be shot, and sprained my ankle in the process. Let me tell you - it's no fun hobbling after a tractor towing a wagon full of screaming religious sisters in the dark!

~ 3 ~

Have you heard about "Occupy Wall Street"? I don't watch much television (not since Golden Girls was taken off the air, at least), so I don't know much about it. However, I did see this video of a sweet girl from the National Catholic Reporter who went to the Occupy DC crowd, and tried to evangelize about the Catholic Church. I don't think she was all that successful, though. What do you think?

~ 4 ~

Have I told you how I'm working to get solar panels installed at the motherhouse? Just doing my part to be environmentally responsible! Well, my plans hit a snag earlier this year when Solyndra went bankrupt - we had a contract and everything! Now I'm looking at working with another company called First Solar.

~ 5 ~

My fantasy football team is performing terribly! I truly regret having drafted Donovan McNabb, and now that my #1 running back Ahmad Bradshaw is done for the year with a broken ankle, I might as well just pack it in for this season.

~ 6 ~

This past summer I attended the American Catholic Council in downtown Detroit. Ugh. All those old people. I left halfway through the Saturday program. My prediction? The movement will die in committee. I mean that literally.

~ 7 ~

Our order has started making wine. My oh my, it has been so much fun! We're using the proceeds to launch our Sophia Institute Of Intentional And Sustainable Living. To date we've started with a chardonnay, to be followed up with a port. I hope to have our website up and running soon so we can start selling it - by the case! Here's the label:


Oh, and don't worry - we make sure our feet are very clean before pressing the grapes!

Apparently, I'm supposed to link back to Conversion Diary, so there it is.

And I promise to post more often. Unless, of course, my one-woman play gets picked up at Broadway (you never know!)...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Just Thought You'd Like To Know...

...I got a text from Sister Patricia this evening. She says she's going to be posting Friday November 4. Says it's something special. Different.

Oh boy.

Can't wait.

Wheelchair Bound High School Student Scores Touchdown

With all the bad news in the media, of immature people behaving badly (hello Occupy Oakland!), of the seemingly never-stopping onslaught of vitriol and mean-spiritedness, of idiot politicians and of crashing economies, it's important to come across stories like this:

Heart-warming: Wheelchair-bound Football Player Scores Touchdown
Trent Glaze loves football. In fact, he even wants to coach it one day. But as a high school football player he also had a dream of getting on the field. That may sound like a simple goal, but Glaze has muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair. But despite his physical setback, his dream came true on last Friday night.

It was his opportunity to shine,” Fairfield Union (Ohio) coach Tom McCurdy told WBNS-TV. “He’s my right-hand man. He’s always telling me what we need to do (and) what needs to improve.”

But on Friday, the “right-hand man” became his star player.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Maybe if more time and ink was given to stories like this - and I bet that stuff like this is more commonplace than we are led to believe - maybe people's perspectives on life and how we treat each other would change for the better. Of am I being too hopeful?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Laurel And Hardy: Dance Fever!

Some diversion for today - check out these videos where folks took a clip from an old Laurel and Hardy film ("Way Out West" from 1937) and included different music. These have been around for awhile, but they're worth sharing.

Here's the original (dancing begins at about the 1:20 mark):



Now here's one where they're dancing to Carlos Santana's "Oye Como Va":



For the rock 'n roll crowd, this one is to the ZZ Topp hit "Sharp Dressed Man":



And here's The Gap Band's "Party Train":



There are other versions, but I liked these three the most.

h/t The Blaze

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

It's November - and that means it's time for NaNoWriMo.


For the unfamiliar - it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. This is my third year participating, and I'm proud to say that I've written 50,000+ words in each of the last two years. I didn't quite complete the stories - the goal is to get the words.

And I have a feeling this year is gonna be tough - it's Day One, and I haven't got a clue of what to write. Uh oh.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween Short Story

I've recently discovered John C. Wright's blog (via Mark Shea) - he of Fantasy/SF fame, and convert to Catholicism from atheism - and his posts are consistently stunning, intelligent and thought-provoking. I wish I could say with honesty that he's following my example, but I'm quite sure he's never read AoftheA, so I'll just leave it to coincidence that our blogs are so uncannily similar.

*ahem*

Anyway - he penned a quick little read apropos for today entitled "The Eve of All Saints' Day". I recommend taking five or so minutes to give it a read. Cool stuff.

NCReporter: Think Like A Planet!

Ever read something so ridiculously stupid, you feel as if your IQ's dropped about a dozen points? (I know - it probably happens every time you read AoftheA. Har har) I tell ya, if I keep reading articles like the one I just did, I'll end up being smart enough to write for the National Catholic Distorter, and come up with stuff like the following:

World Leaders Need To Think Like A Planet by Sharon Abercrombie
Envision for a moment the healing that could wash over our suffering planet if the entrenched ruling establishment were to come together for a very special one-day gathering at a retreat center deep within the California redwoods.

These retreatants would be comprised of an assortment of political leaders, lobbyists, bankers, CEOs of GMO research facilities, the military, and members of the oil, natural gas, nuclear weapons , timber and coal mining industries. Factory farm corporations would be there, too.

Imagine them shedding their initial sheepishness, contempt and self-consciousness at being invited "to do WHAT KIND OF STUFF?" Watch as they sink into a numinous space where the agenda includes drumming, chanting, meditating and mask making.

With your mind's eye, envision these power brokers abandoning their Blackberries for construction paper, crayons, paints, clay , feathers, leaves and cardboard. Earlier that day, they had walked in the forest and "let themselves be chosen by another life form," in the words of Buddhist writer Joanna Macy, describing such a retreat day: They had wandered off alone outside "to happen onto the identity they will assume. They take time to contemplate this life form, imagining its rhythms, and pleasures and needs. They ask the non-human creature's permission to speak for it."

Now, observe these men and women sitting in quiet corners of the room. They are busy creating masks. Likenesses of penguins, polar bears, tigers, mountains -- maybe even a gopher or an earthworm -- begin taking shape.

After an hour or so, half of the group dons masks. They sit in a circle, facing outward. A second circle forms around them, looking inwards. One by one, the masked figures begin telling of the pain they have suffered because of the thoughtlessness and greed of human beings. The outer circle then takes it turn to move to the inner circle with their own stories and identities.

Perhaps what will transpire will be a miracle of tears, regret, deep sadness and a vow to change. And if so, they will be the results of having walked in the footsteps of a nonhuman for a little while.

This is what the Council of All Beings is about. Macy and John Seed created what they call a communal ritual in early 1985, during a weekend workshop for social and environmental activists in Australia.

Macy, an author, teacher and antinuclear activist, learned she had a lot in common with her co-facilitator, John Seed, founder of the Rainforest Information Center.

"We discovered that we shared a passionate interest in deep ecology and the writings of Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess about the 'Ecological self,'" Macy explains on rainforestinfo.org. "As Buddhists we both resonated with these concepts, finding them close to the Buddha's core teachings on the interdependence of all life. John expressed the wish that my workshops include a 'deep ecological' group experience to directly challenge the anthropocentrism of industrial society."

Maybe instead of thinking like a planet, the author should try thinking like a person. Just sayin'.

There's nothing that screams "Dumb as a lampshade!" quite like an article where the author imagines someone making a worm mask. And then trying to think like one. I mean, how much thinking is an earthworm capable of anyway? They can't be very smart since after every rainstorm, scores of 'em are stretched out on my driveway, drowned and bloated.

Articles like this, unfortunately, are par for the course at the Distorter, where greater credence is given to Buddhist philosophy than Catholic thought. Christ said we are to become like little children, not like tigers, mountains or earthworms.

The article dives deeper into the ocean of un-smart-ness:
Together, Macy and Seed invented the Council of All Beings. It was introduced shortly afterward at a camp north of Sydney, on huge flat rocks by a waterfall. About 40 people took part.

Within a year, the Council of All Beings had spread by word of mouth across the globe, through Macy and Seed's workshops. She recalls: "People were gathering to shed their personae as humans and give voice to the plight of the Earth. They spoke as whale and wolf and wind, aspen and marsh, and any other nonhuman they felt called to represent."

Joanna Macy maintains that without emotions, truly realizing the interconnectedness of all life stays stuck at the intellectual level. Mental concepts alone do not affect our attitudes and behaviors.

"We need to feel (the interconnectedness) and our capacity to feel is stunted if we block out the pain within us over what is happening to our world. Furthermore, if we proceed to take part in the Council per se, speaking on behalf of other life-forms, without first acknowledging our sorrow for what others beings are suffering at human hands, we risk being superficial …"

According to Macy, humans' connections to other life forms are based on more than the emotional attachments to places and beings we have loved.

"They are also organic, woven by shared ancestries, embedded in our bodies. Each atom in each molecule of our being goes back to the beginning of life and has belonged to far more ancient and varied forms of life than our own. The human form we wear now is just the latest and briefest chapter of a long evolutionary journey."

Remember - this comes from a *supposed* Catholic publication.

But just to be fair, I gave this a go. I decided to try and shed my human persona and get in touch with my ancestral otherness, by communing with my Sunday dinner: steak, mashed potatoes and a salad.

Steak: I made a cow mask. All I could think of were those funny Chik-Fil-A commercials where those cows make "Eat Mor Chikin!" signs. But boy, that steak was really really good.

Potatoes: I made a potato mask. How many eyes are there supposed to be in a potato mask? And it's hard to think like a potato. Would a potato be happier in a Pringles' tube, or boiled? I bet mashing is pretty painful - but probably not as painful as being digested, what with the mastication, and saliva, and being dumped into a pit of corrosive gastric acid. GOD, FORGIVE ME FOR I AM SUCH A TERRIBLE PERSON TO DIGEST A POTATO!!!! (sorry - almost lost it there) Or does a potato die when it's taken out of the garden? Does it need dirt to breathe, like a fish in a lake, and thus "drowns" when it's harvested? Well, whatever - the mashed potatoes were good. I like to think I gave the potato a last hurrah by making a butter volcano - y'know, you hide butter inside the mound of potatoes, so it melts and then when you take a forkful, it kinda spills down the sides. I think the potato liked that.

Salad: This one was tough - do I make a mask for the greens, the radicchio, the yellow pepper, the radishes or the cherry tomatoes? I ended up not making one, but I think the salad was happy because it was a big get together of veggie friends, all mixed together with a light vinaigrette. Sorta like OWS -without the odor.

Oh well. I tried. I think I felt something as a potato, but I doubt it. Kinda like reading the article - you think you read something that passed for smart, but in the end, it was just your imagination.