This website is the home site of my criminal reformation apostolate; here you can find details about the Lampstand Foundation which I founded as a 501c (3) nonprofit corporation in Sacramento, California in 2003.
I have written ten books and each one of my books is a response to a likely objection to Catholicism that will be encountered when doing ministry to professional criminals; and for links to all of the Lampstand books which are available at Amazon, go to http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=david+h+lukenbill
I also maintain a daily blog, The Catholic Eye, https://catholiceye.wordpress.com/
Lampstand also keeps track of rehabilitative programs that fail, and the one or two that appear to work, with the findings available at https://catholiceye.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/evaluation-of-reentry-programs-3/
The work connected to the apostolate is listed under the home page categories (to your left) which I will be expanding as needed.
Unpublished Work: Metaphysical Prestige of Crime
I came across this great description of what I have been writing about for years as the glamorization of criminals—and their essential spiritual core—in an essay by Ann Douglas “Punching a Hole in the Big Lie”: The Achievement of William S. Burroughs, in the book Beat Down to Your Soul: What Was the Beat Generation?, where she wrote:
“The critic Lionel Abel thought that Burroughs and his Beat colleagues had established the “metaphysical prestige” of the drug addict and the criminal; though modern skepticism destroyed the belief in transcendence, the human “need for utterness,” not to be denied, had found its satisfaction in “trans-descendence.” (pp. 145-146)
Her note revealed the term originated in a review of Burroughs’s book, Naked Lunch, by Lionel Abel in the Winter 1963 issue of the Partisan Review.
Here are the relevant sections:
“A quarter century ago in Paris, the philosopher Jean Wahl gave a lecture, now famous, in which he made the point that transcendence—the act of going beyond appearances—may move upward or downward: one may transcend upward toward God, or clear values, or downward toward obscure values, or the “dark gods” of whom Lawrence wrote. And Wahl, in making his point, coined two new words: trans-ascendence and trans-descendence.” (p. 110)
“One wonders: if there is a metaphysical impulse, a real need for Being, why is this need not satisfied today in so-called higher experiences? Modern skepticism, no doubt, has destroyed the prestige of God, moral decision, speculative wonder, love or rapture. But why has it not destroyed the metaphysical prestige of crime or drug addiction? There is an interesting saying by a somewhat criminal-minded Sabbatian Cabbalist of the eighteenth century: “When the brave knights are beaten and the wise men want to retreat, a know-nothing will sneak in through a sewer and take the castle by stealth…” (P. 111)
Lionel Abel. (Winter 1963). Partisan Review, Beyond the Fringe (pp. 109-112) online at http://hgar-srv3.bu.edu/collections/partisan-review/search/detail?id=326060
Foucault, also writing about events—executions in particular—in the 18th century where:
“In these executions, which ought to show only the terrorizing power of the prince, there was a whole aspect of the carnival, in which the rules were inverted, authority mocked and criminals transformed into heroes.” (p. 61)
Michel Foucault. (1975). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon Books.
But this is different, this is the singularly restricted form of glamorization, the Bonnie & Clyde public devotion to rebels who are sticking it in the eye of authority on a case by case basis; while the theologyfication emanating from Beat literature, is a rejection of the entire previous culture in an attempt to replace it with another; which found little permanence except within the criminal/carceral world, and its wanna-be subculture of the hip/social justice warriors who still today favor the attire and mannerisms of the penal world.
It is not hard to see the attraction, especially by the young—of the Beat world and todays replicators—for much of what they produced and still produce is beautiful and art of a high order whether in literature, music, or visual.
The Beats were most taken in by the intellectuals, as Anatole Broyard writes:
“The intellectuals manqués, however, the desperate barometers of society, took him into their bosom. Ransacking everything for meaning, admiring insurgence, they attributed every heroism to the hipster. He became there “there but for the grip of my superego go I.” He was received in the Village as an oracle; his language was the revolution of the word, the personal idiom. He was the great instinctual man, an ambassador from the Id. He was asked to read things, look at things, feel things, taste things, and report. What was it? Was it in there? Was it gone? Was it fine? He was an interpreter for the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the insensible, the impotent.
“With such an audience, nothing was too much. The hipster promptly became, in his own eyes, a poet, a seer, a hero. He laid claims to apocalyptic visions and heuristic discoveries when he picked up; he was Lazarus, come back from the dead, come back to tell them all, he would tell them all. He conspicuously consumed himself in a high flame. He cared nothing for catabolic consequences; he was so prodigal as to be invulnerable.” (pp. 48-49)
Ann Charters. (Editor) (2001). Beat Down to Your Soul: What Was the Beat Generation? New York: Penguin Books.
Creating heroes of criminals/drug addicts moved from the Beats to the prison reform movement in California in the 1970’s and on, when criminals were seen as the “vanguards of the revolution”, which ended in the particularly bloody mess of the SLA in Los Angeles?
What all of this means is that many criminals feel their way of life—even if they are now in prison and if so, they will not tell this to non-criminals if the obverse guarantees more reward—is superior to all others and what they really have to do, rather than rehabilitate, is to become a better criminal.
The heroization in the criminal/carceral world is now of the victim; criminals are victims, of mass incarceration, a criminal justice system stacked against them, demands they reveal themselves on job applications, etc. etc.; but the same underlying movement tries to make bad seem good, to hide evil and make it inconsequential; all movements as old as time, all movements directed by the prince of this world, who always, still, loses.