In search of … THE VORTEX

I was recently in Kansas City, MO.

Denizens of Kansas City and travelers alike take a great risk when moving about in that city.

They may fall into…


No, I am not talking about the guy with the videos.

I mean …


Some of you may not realize that Kansas City is the location of divergent ecclesial vectors of force.  When considered in isolation, they are remarkable but not necessarily of great concern.

But when considered in relation to each other


In Kansas City – all within a few blocks of each other – you will find:

  • The Chancery of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph
  • The HQ of the National Catholic Fishwrap… errr… Reporter
  • The chapel of the SSPX, St. Vincent’s

You know about the Bermuda Triangle, right?

Stuff went in and never came out again!

My friends and I are convinced that were to to find the exact epicenter of the ecclesial forces at work between these three coordinates, you would encounter…


Go to the exact center and you never come out.

If Preserved Killick were in a Superman movie instead of an 18th British ship of the line, not at all unlikely given this subject matter, he would surely say, “Which the Phantom Zone ain’t in it!”

As a public service, and for your safety, we sacrificed ourselves and went on a hunt for…


Having made a good confession, and a map from Google, we set out cheered by a hot mug of Mystic Monk Coffee to find the three-fold force vectors.

We sought first the SSPX chapel, St. Vincent’s and determined that that force was probably located at the position of the altar in the church.  It stands to reason, no?

Note the papal flag and the sinister “Reserved” sign.  Portentous.  But of what, we didn’t know at the time.

And we still don’t know!  We thought it may have something to do with excommunications, or maybe… parking.

The church is nice, though it is a fixer-upper.  Tidy and orderly it needs work.

Here is the altar.

The baldichin is surely portentous.  It signifies faith in the Presence of God in the Eucharist and reverence.   Think about that… situated at the end of an ecclesial force vector reaching not so very far to the HQ of the NCR!

In the narthex, we found some helpful tools for our quest, including some literature, which would serve an important purpose later.

We figured we would not need any emergency chapel veils.

Then it was off to plot the next coordinate.  To the chancery!

Behold the administrative center of the diocese, where we figured the source of the ecclesial force vector would be, of course, Bp. Finn’s office.  We pinpointed it, and moved on.

BTW… on the outer wall of the chancery there was set in shining bronze the coat of arms of the diocese.  It reminded me of things like jurisdiction.  Portentous to be sure.

We didn’t have to go far, but this was one of the most dangerous of the steps…. around the block to the offices of the National Catholic Reporter.

Yes, this is nearly within a stone’s throw of the bishop’s office.

Imagine the riptides of ecclesial force vectors that must eddy around this area… pulled north and west by the SSPX altar!

Here I am again, putting on a brave front.

Remember: I am a professional.

Do not attempt this without a priest!

I don’t know what the flowering bush portended.  It was as if … I don’t know.  It was so different from the last time I trod upon … that ground.

Even now I can feel the coldness that started to rise upward from the ground.  I shiver.

At the side entrance, you could see traces of some work going on.  There were, for example, some cleaning cloths, a squirt-bottle and what appeared to be … a box.

Any two of those things by themselves… well you get the idea.  But the box had a portentous aspect to it that even now, gives me chills.

Because we had been crisscrossing these forces, we decided to go home and fortify ourselves with some Mystic Monk Coffee and do the calculations.  At the crossing of these vectors, we were about to find at long last…


We marked the coordinates of our three ecclesial force vectors on our precision map and then used a pamphlet from the SSPX narthex to draw the first line, from the chancery to the exact location of the altar of the chapel.

Then, for the longer line we used a sturdier newsletter also from the chapel, to draw the line between the SSPX and the NCR.

We were going to use a copy of the NCR itself for this, but found to our horror that we could not draw a straight line with it!

It was a simpler matter to draw the line between the NCR and chancery, which was mercifully short.

Then it was time to draw the intersecting lines from each angle to the midpoints of the force vectors to get a high-precision exact pin-pointed location.  We had to measure to find the exact mid-points.

One line was drawn with the Mystic Monk Coffee product list.

To draw the intersecting line of the offices of the NCR and the midpoint between the SSPX and the chancery, well… as you can see, we had to switch to a sturdier high-precision measuring device.

It took both of us to hold it down at this stage!

Having plotted all the coordinates and traced the lines with precision exactitude, we studied the map with excitement but trepidation.  Mostly trepidation.  Maybe about 70% trepidation, and 20% excitement with curiosity thrown in.  But then trepidation is a sort of excitement, no?  How to measure?

Back to the map.  We studied our findings.

This is part of the studying process.

I have added some red lines to help you see what we found…. that is, the location of…


But… as I am sure you are also asking…. “But Father! But Father!”, you are surely asking.  “What is this I see?!?  What is that triangle to the west of … that thing you are talking about?”

Yes, friends.  We noticed it and placed some subtle indicators lest we lose track of it while we investigated further.

On the surface of the data, you would think that we found the very place.  But, it was simply too much of a coincidence that there should be nearby a TRIANGULAR street lay out, I repeat TRIANGULAR street layout intersection thingy so close to our precision calculated epicenter.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Perhaps synchronicity, since this is dealing with the vicissitudes of time and space impinging on the matter of the cosmos?

But why, we asked ourselves, would there be this offset?  Making a mistake about the location and then going there could have drastic consequences!

It was necessary to return to the map to search for clues.

Finally, after more Mystic Monk Coffee, we figured it out.

Look at this map detail.

I placed a thin red circle about.. yes… a Scottish Rite MASONIC TEMPLE just slightly to the SW of the SSPX Chapel!

See?  See?!?

The anti-ecclesial force vectors emanating from the Masonic lodge so close to the SSPX chapel are just strong enough to weaken its influence!  Therefore the anti-pull and retrograde-polarity exerted by the NCRyes, the NCR and not the SSPXwas able to dislocate the epicenter of the forces slightly in its favor, thus shifting the location of…


I had to leave Kansas City at this point, and put some distance between myself and these powers.

But I can now report that we have a photo of what we believe is the actual location of…


Note the center island … at the very center there is … what must we call it… a funnel-shaped form.

A warning?

Now avert your eyes for a moment and then refocus on this detail.

What is this we see?

You have seen them ten thousand times if you have seen them once.

But was there ever one more portentous?

“DO NOT ENTER”, says the sign.

Theologically we know that signs point to invisible realities.

An apophatic approach to these theological physics suggests that the power of the signs is actually in the space between the signs, what is not there!

Get it?!?

This, folks, must be it.  The center of …


On my next trip to Kansas City, encouraged by Mystic Monk Coffee, we will mount an expedition to the very place to see what happens when we enter.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "But Father! But Father!", "How To..." - Practical Notes, Global Killer Asteroid Questions, Just Too Cool, On the road, SESSIUNCULA and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. MLivingston says:

    How much caffeine is in that coffee?

  2. Liz F says:

    Hilarious ! ! ! You seem to get a plug for Mystic Monk Coffee in every post these days, Father! lol, MLivingston!

  3. Charivari Rob says:

    “DO NOT ENTER”, says the sign… …we will mount an expedition to the very place to see what happens when we enter.

    Possibly this?

    [I don’t think you are taking this very seriously. Though, on second thought…]

  4. Tina in Ashburn says:

    How much alcohol was in that Mystic Monk Coffee?

  5. SonofMonica says:

    I actually laughed out loud reading this. Nice!

  6. jjoy says:

    I was struck by the similarity between the line drawing of the Vortex and a Vuvuzela….

  7. irishgirl says:

    Yes, Father Z-how much caffeine was in that coffee?

    But it was fun to read!

    I like especially seeing you in the photos! You were having a pretty good time!

  8. Fr.Z: I hope you were wearing a bullet-proof vest at your stop at, well, you know, (no, not the SSPX…!)
    Dem folks can be nasty!:<)!

  9. cblanch says:

    Fun reading!

  10. Craig says:

    Figures it would be a few blocks from my place, no wonder no one will come visit.

  11. Robert_H says:

    Father mentioned that he was test-driving the Espresso Blend today.

    Clearly he used the 22oz Say the Black, Do the Red stein today.

  12. GordonB says:

    Particularly enjoyable to one who lives and works within minutes of the VORTEX!

  13. RichardT says:

    Hmm; I must try this coffee.

  14. Jared B says:

    “An apophatic approach to these theological physics…”

    This is now officially my favorite Catholic conspiracy theory. :-D

    “Possibly this?”

    But of course that would happen, because THEY don’t want you to find out the truth!!

  15. catholicmidwest says:

    Excellent post, Fr Z.

    BTW, have any of you ever noticed that the towns with the best local Catholic churches have the largest Masonic temples? Maybe that’s a midwest thing, but I’m not sure. It’s like a spiritual war in geography. Heh.

  16. mdsmelser says:

    LOL! Waaaaaaayyyyy better than watching TV, which I quit doing a long time ago, except for EWTN sometimes.

    Thanks for the great theological and cultural entertainment, Father.

  17. AnAmericanMother says:

    LOL! Very portentous, indeed.

    Somebody needs to determine the identity of the tree in the middle of . . . the VORTEX. Especially its Linnaean name. Surely that would be significant?

    Mysteriously, on Google Earth, even though the photo is copyright 2010, the tree is a mere seedling. Look here:

    View Larger Map

    It’s leafed out, so the photo must have been taken in the late spring at the earliest . . . but it’s 1/3 or 1/4 of the size it is in Fr. Z’s photo. And the funnel-like shape is very mysterious . . . . .

    [ cue creepy music here ]

  18. Tantum Ergo says:

    Fr Z, you’re supposed to DRINK the coffee, not SMOKE it (though I’m sure you were using a censor)

  19. Andrew says:

    People who think that this is funny don’t understand the gravity of the matter. Did anyone think of taking soil samples from each of the corners in the triangle? Before this turns into a geopolitical disaster?

  20. That was great! I got a good chuckle out of this entry. My favorite picture is of you standing in front of the NCR. Classic!

  21. AnAmericanMother says:


    OK, we have a plan.

    Soil samples out of each corner (please put them in double baggies).

    Closeup photographs of the whole tree, the main trunk, and a branch with leaflets (and flowers or seed pods if any).

    I have a friend at the County Extension Service. We will get to the bottom of this.

  22. GirlCanChant says:

    Did the “reserved” sign in front of the SSPX chapel prevent you from taking a smile and wave picture in front of it?

    That sign reminded me of when I sang in the choir for EWTN’s 25th anniversary Mass in Philly. There was a sign on the door of our practice room (a bathroom, for the record) that said Reserved Choir. My friend Bill said, “Clearly they are referring to our demeanor.” Yep, Bill, clearly, especially with me being there.

  23. AnAmericanMother says:


    I bet your practice room had great resonance!

    (that’s why people sing in the shower)

  24. GirlCanChant says:


    We had one of our basses intoning for the Mass (since Cardinal Rigali doesn’t sing) and he sounded so amazing that we were joking about miking him from there!

  25. Gail F says:

    HILARIOUS. My favorite part is: Remember: I am a professional.

    Do not attempt this without a priest!

  26. Paula says:

    You really must let us know what happens when you enter. Assuming, of course, you are allowed to enter.

  27. MaryW says:

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud today, Father! Watch that Mystic Monk coffee, it’s very addictive!

  28. cblanch says:

    That was great! I look forward to reading about “Father Z’s Excellent Adventures”. Keep posting this hilarious material!

  29. Fr. Z is secretly an albino “monk” of Opus Dei – he’s just wearing tinted contact lenses!

  30. Oh, boy – this was too funny. Now I won’t be able to fall asleep.

    As an aside, can’t Bishop Finn rip the Catholic name from the NCR? Is this kind of thing not enough?

  31. Prof. Basto says:

    Thank you. Hilarious post.

  32. Marg says:

    And I always thought priests played golf on their days off. Very sleuthy…!

  33. r.j.sciurus says:

    NCR was officially condemned in 1968 ( and it did not seem to bother anyone. In fact, many “Catholic” journalists rushed to their defense. That said, most of them are quietly fading away as is NCR. They need our prayers and hopes for conversion before they are called to give account for their actions.

  34. prairie says:

    I hope that on your next trip to KC you will give us locals some warning.

  35. Rachel says:

    Perhaps tomorrow in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI will come to a sudden decision: “I think I’ll fire up the computer and check out the website of this Fr. Z one hears so much about.” He’ll load up the blog and the first post he sees will be… this one.

    And so much the better, for this was the best post ever! :)

  36. KevinSymonds says:

    Fr. Z., you are a light in the midst of the darkness. Thank you so much for this post. It was a much needed smile that crossed my face.

  37. papaefidelis says:

    Fr. Z: One of your best posts of ALL TIME!!!

  38. Fr. A.M. says:

    Very funny Father – but perhaps you ought to try a cup of Earl Grey ?

  39. Post way cool. You are way more fun than Dan Brown!
    By the way, don’t leave out Descartes’ ideas about vortices. And what about the ‘In-illuminati’?

  40. De Tribulis says:

    OK, that does it. I want some of what you’ve been drinking, caffeine-wise! Do you suppose the Mystic Monks would ship to Europe? :D

  41. bobw45 says:

    Ah yes, St. Vincent Depaul Church. I recall serving my aunt’s and uncle’s wedding Mass there in 1957. It was a diocesan church at that time. I believe it had the longest nave in the KC-SJ diocese.

  42. Joan M says:

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud today, Father! Watch that Mystic Monk coffee, it’s very addictive!
    Comment by MaryW

    Fr. Z. – have you noticed that the Mystic Monk coffee is marketed by the Carmelite Monks that are trying to get permission to build that Monastery……

  43. Friends, do you know what RESERVED is backwards?! DEVRESER! Have you considered this Father?! And you all thought you were safe…

  44. GirlCanChant says:

    I smell a Part II coming on.

    Also, thank you, Father, for waiting until I left work yesterday to post this. I don’t think I could have contained my laughter.

  45. sawdustmick says:

    ..does the vortex finally suck all and sundry into the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death (I.E. Westminster Diocese where I live) ?

  46. Tim Ferguson says:

    I fed the words “Kansas City” into my computer, Abulafia, and it spit back the anagram “Satanic Sky”!! What would Belbo say?

  47. Okay, Father, after what seems like years of Serious Research I think I have something here:

    Disturbing, to say the least.

    I have developed a Theory that the vortex can be summoned using a fishwrap, coupled ex opere operato with the raising of the left hand in such a manner as to appear to be waving. I think I will forward my findings to the 9/11 Truth research committee’s for further review. I think it is reasonable to postulate that the vortex may have been responsible for the collapse of building seven. Thoughts?

  48. Tantum Ergo says:

    I checked in archives and found Bilbo’s Map of Middle Earth. The Vortex is the exact epicenter of the juxtaposition of the boundrys if the Shire (chancery), Mount Doom (NCR), and Minis Tirith (SSPX)

  49. Tantum Ergo says:

    HA! Why do you say that entering the Vortex is risky? I did, and absolutely nothing happened. Wait a minute… Where AM I?? WHO am I ?? This thingy says I’m “Tantum Ergo.” I like that name, but something is just not right. I’ve got a baaaad feeling about this.

  50. John 6:54 says:

    Hangin out in the sketchy part of town Fr. Z. Your lucky you made it out.

  51. GrogSmash says:

    Off the charts riveting information! My sister and her family will be in K.C. this weekend… hopefully I can forward this information to them in time, so they can be sure to avoid: (cue the dramatic music)

    T H E V O R T E X

    On her behalf, thank you Fr. for taking one for the team!

  52. Leo says:

    Fr. Z,
    I may be wrong but I think Michael Voris, “the guy with the videos,” would enjoy your post too. Or was this meant as a satirization of the other Vortex and the CIA Reports? If so I really don’t get it because I think Real Catholic TV is addressing some serious issues in the American Catholic Church that need to be addressed. Am I going wrong here? I am taking your post as the creative and fun diversion that I see on the surface. I am interested in trying Mystic Monk Coffee now. Thanks for the good laughs!

  53. kat says:

    This was really great. I wonder where the rectory/priests’ house of the SSPX is in relation to the vortex. I know it’s only a couple blocks from St. Vincent’s. It also houses the “Angelus Press” headquarters! (Would be really interesting to know where THAT is in relation to the NCR headquarters!!)

    You oughta hear the story of how the SSPX acquired that beautiful church!

  54. Han says:

    The lesson: Do not read Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco before traveling.

  55. holeksa says:


  56. mdillon says:

    That picture of you in from of the National Protestant Reporter…Opps, I mean National Protestant Fishwrap…hilarious!

    “Remember: I am a professional. Do not attempt this without a priest!”

    I have been laughing about since yesterday!

  57. Uh…OK…very tinfoil beanie, padre.

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