Tuesday, December 6, 2016
More commentary here, from the King's Debates:Armando Valladares may not have been the first man to challenge the Cuban dictator, but he eventually became the best known. By his own account, the young Valladares was an early supporter of Castro’s revolution, taking a job in the Office of the Ministry of Communications for the Revolutionary Government, where he worked as a postal clerk. But all of that changed when he was asked to put a communist slogan on his desk. It comprised three simple words: “I’m with Fidel.” He refused. A young artist and poet who also happened to be a Christian, Valladares understood the meaning of the request. What he did not know, and could not know, was how far his own government would go to bend him to its will. Soon after his refusal to comply, Valladares was arrested by political police at his parents’ home. Faced with trumped up charges of terrorism — a favorite tactic of the Castro regime for silencing dissent — he was given a 30-year sentence. Valladares would spend time in different prison camps for the next 22 years. The first, La Cabaña, forged some of the very worst memories. “Each night, the firing squad executed scores of men in its trenches,” he told the Becket Fund, which last year honored him with its Canterbury Prize, given annually to a person who embodies an unfailing commitment to religious freedom. “We could hear each phase of the executions, and during this time, these young men — patriots — would die shouting ‘Long live Christ, the King. Down with Communism!’ And then you would hear the gunshots. Every night there were shootings. Every night. Every night. Every night.” (Read more.)
It is strange that many who invoke the importance of context in discussing Castro don’t mention that Cuba was an impressive country in the 1950s in terms of the very same metrics often used to praise Castro. Cuba’s education and health care levels in the 1950s were above the Latin American average and comparable to some European countries. The literacy rate when Fidel Castro took over was 78%-79%, the 4th highest in Latin America. Life expectancy was third in the hemisphere and it had the 4th lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America. Cuba had higher TV sets per capita than any other Latin American country and higher than that of Italy. It also had Latin America’s highest consumption of meat and fruits. In the 1950s, GDP per capita was between the 2nd and 4th highest in Latin America; now, it is between the 9th and 11th. In pre-Castro Cuba, workers had one-month paid holiday, eight-hour workdays, and women were entitled to six-weeks leave before and after childbirth. The impression that Cuba in the 1950s was a backward country in terms of the metrics often used to praise Castro is thus highly disingenuous. (Read more.)Share
The first order founded in the Holy Land, the Knights of the Temple were created in 1115 by Hugue de Payens and Godfrey de Saint Adhemar, who recruited seven other French knights to help them escort pilgrims safely between Jerusalem, Jericho and the traditional site of Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan. Growing in size and prominence, the group took up quarters at the Temple of Solomon – hence their name – and set the precedent for such groups as warrior monks. (Read more.)Share
Monday, December 5, 2016
The Anatolian mountains of Armenia are vast repositories for alum, a resource that is valuable as a binding agent, or mordant, holding colors fast to fabric. Plant dyers, such as Jane’s Porter’s maternal ancestors, understand its properties well, as do weavers, such as those in her father’s line who produced woven brocades in their silk mill, located in what is now central Turkey. “Textiles are in my DNA,” Jane says.
Her grandmother initiated her education in textiles by taking her to fabric shops in New York City, where the 4-year-old Jane experienced a brilliant world of textures and colors that instilled in her an appreciation of well-made fabrics and clothing, and over time, helped her to develop an eye for beautifully crafted pieces. “Together,” she says of she and her grandmother, “we designed and sewed all of my dance and prom dresses.”
In what seems a natural progression, her inaugural line of dresses made their debut in the boutiques of Philadelphia in 1968. Jane credits the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers for contributing to her mastery of weaving, spinning, and dyeing. Inspired by this knowledge, she opened a fiber arts school in Chadds Ford. When she added screen-printing to her cache of abilities in textiles, using natural dyes, of course, the result was a clothing line with nationwide distribution—hand-screened and made with custom-woven wool, cotton, and silk—designed for professional urban women. (Read more.)
Cardinal Raymond Burke has said Donald Trump’s election Tuesday is a sign that the United States’ political leaders need to listen more to the people and return to safeguarding life, marriage, the family and religious liberty. In an exclusive interview with Edward Pentin for EWTN's National Catholic Register Nov. 9, the patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta said he was confident Trump would be able to help heal divisions in the country, that he has a “great disposition” to listen to the Church’s position on the moral law, and hopes he will “follow the principles and dictates of our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.” However, aware of inevitable areas of divergence with Church teaching, Cardinal Burke stressed the importance of Catholics continuing to make objections known whenever necessary. (Read more.)Share
SharePoe's death—shrouded in mystery—seems ripped directly from the pages of one of his own works. He had spent years crafting a careful image of a man inspired by adventure and fascinated with enigmas—a poet, a detective, an author, a world traveler who fought in the Greek War of Independence and was held prisoner in Russia. But though his death certificate listed the cause of death as phrenitis, or swelling of the brain, the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death have led many to speculate about the true cause of Poe's demise. "Maybe it’s fitting that since he invented the detective story," says Chris Semtner, curator of the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, "he left us with a real-life mystery." (Read more.)
Sunday, December 4, 2016
For Eric, it’s the smallest touches—the jewelry, if you like—that help to elevate a space to its full splendor. “The longer I work, the more enamored I get with details,” Eric says. “There’s a discovery that’s involved in a room every time [you see it]—things that are very subtle, but they tell the story. And that’s where the authenticity comes into a room, where the friends of the home-owner really feel comfortable because it’s a true representation of their friend’s personality.”Share
Eric’s associate, Christine Barker, is a key part of pulling all those details together, from culling fabric options to helping draft floor plans. “She’s a good sounding board, and she brings a younger eye,” he says. Like Eric, Christine loves the South, and she shares his appreciation for the warmth and comfort that define the region’s homes. “Southern style kind of has a softness to it, but lots of color and lots of pattern and texture,” she says. (Read more.)
ShareFillon is by far the most conservative among the three. He voted against gay marriage when it was initially proposed, has vowed to fight adoption rights for same-sex couples, has voted against IVF babies for single mothers and lesbians, and has fought against radical Islam, supporting a ban on burkinis and speaking out on behalf of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.A large chunk of Fillon's supporters come from La Manif Pour Tous ("Demonstration for All"), a secular initiative begun in 2013 as a reaction to French legislators' decision to ram through same-sex marriage, contrary to the will of the people. The Manif's purpose is to defend the right of children to both a mother and a father, and its annual rallies are some of the largest pro-family gatherings in Europe, with numbers reaching well over a million (although they are consistently underreported in the secular press). Each year, atheists march alongside Catholics, Protestants and Muslims in protest against what they see as French legislators' destruction of the family.
The wildly popular Manif gave rise to a traditional Catholic political movement, Sens Commun ("Common Sense"), which has backed Fillon from the beginning.Juppé ran on a more centrist platform, deriding Fillon as too traditionalist and out of touch. "I'm the most open to modernism and I feel closer to the Pope than Sens Commun or La Manif pour tous," Juppé said. (Read more.)