Saturday, January 18, 2020

Inside Sandringham House

The Library

Where all the recent drama occurred. From Hello!:
Her Majesty has been staying at her Norfolk residence since before Christmas, and typically stays there until early February, after marking the anniversary of her father's death privately. She is one of four monarchs to have continued to celebrate Christmas at Sandringham, and it's easy to see why she loves spending time on the 600-acre estate. As well as staying in the 19th-century Sandringham House, the Queen and her family are regular visitors to the estate's church, St. Mary Magdalene, where Prince George and Princess Charlotte made their debut at the annual Christmas Day service in 2019. Keep reading to see more of the Sandringham Estate…(Read more.)

More pictures HERE. And HERE. Share

Fascinating Facts About the Palace of Versailles

 Good article except for the usual silly statements about Marie-Antoinette. From My Modern Met:
Before it was the site of golden gates and manicured gardens, the Versailles estate was first a humble hunting ground. In 1607, Louis XIII—the 6-year-old, soon-to-be-king—visited the area on a hunting trip with his father, King Henri IV. Years later, he’d return to the forested spot, which was “ideally situated between his principle residence at Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Paris [and] surrounded by woods that were noisy with pheasants, boars, and stags” (Chateau de Versailles). Realizing the plot of land’s potential, he decided to build a brick and stone hunting lodge on the premises in 1623. (Read more.)
Later in the article the claim about Marie-Antoinette "playing peasant" is once again made. In 1783, Queen Marie-Antoinette commissioned the architect Mique to build a village and farm on the grounds of her private retreat, the Petit Trianon. The "little hamlet" was to provide food for the royal family, thus giving an example of self-sufficiency to other nobles, as well as celebrating the traditional agricultural life of the French people. It a working farm, plus there were orchards, berry bushes, and fish in the pond. The Queen invited several destitute families to live and work in the hameauA peasant village had existed at Trianon a century before but had been torn down by Louis XIV. The farm has often been cited as an example of decadence on the part of Marie-Antoinette, particularly the dairy with the porcelain milk pitchers. However, it must be taken into account that wealthy people all over Europe were building "follies" in their gardens, such as a fake ruined castles, ornate mosques, Chinese tea houses, solely for decoration. At least Marie-Antoinette's hameau had a practical purpose. Of course, she would not wear an elaborate court gown when spending time on the farm; she would wear a simple cotton dress and sometimes an apron. Therefore she is still accused of "playing dairy maid," although it is doubtful that she ever actually milked any cows. In the main "farm house" there was elegant furniture, a billiard table and such amenities for entertaining in the manner expected of a queen. Foreign guests and ambassadors were occasionally given hospitality at the hameau; the entire estate of Trianon was used on several state visits and was open to the public on Sundays.  In our busy world there seems to be more of an appreciation of Marie-Antoinette's creative way of carving out a retreat for herself and her family, one which patronized and exulted French craftsmanship while simultaneously helping the poor. Share

The Culture of Death Surrounds Us

From The American Vision:
The Virginia Democrat Governor Ralph Northam supported a law that would allow a woman to kill her unborn baby up until his or her (not “its”) birth and thereafter if the result of that birth did not meet the personhood guidelines of the mother. The Virginia government is now dominated by pro-abortion Democrats. They are good with snuffing out the most innocent of life. At the same time, they are passing laws that will leave the rest of Virginians defenseless from people who are hell-bent on killing people no matter what the law says.

Leftists have been trying to defend the third-trimester abortion laws as a woman’s fundamental right. The claim is being made that such abortions should be permitted if (1) the mother’s physical life is in danger, (2) the unborn baby has some physical abnormality, (3) the mother’s “mental health” is in jeopardy.
Considering number 1: There is almost no example of a woman’s physical health being in danger that would necessitate killing the unborn baby. The goal of the doctor and his or her medical staff should do everything to save both mother and child. A doctor should not kill one to save the other. Jeff and Candi Durbin’s daughter went through a difficult delivery. She needed a blood transfusion and the baby was not breathing. What did the doctors do? They did everything to save both of them, and they did.
Considering number 2: Where is the line drawn on physical abnormality? What if a debilitating physical abnormality occurs well after a child’s birth? Should parents have the right to kill the child? Will DNA testing of an unborn baby be used to determine if there is some physical or mental abnormality that could be used to permit a late-term abortion. Think of the film Gattaca. James Jordan writes:
Your name is Vincent [to conquer] Freeman [free from the genetic engineering of the State], [an invalid as determined by the State] and you are a God-child. The prophets of genetics say that you have a 99% probability of developing a heart condition, and so there is no way you’re ever going to be admitted to the space program. You’ll never go to heaven…. Religiously, the film begins with a quotation from Ecclesiastes [7:13] [“Consider what God has done. Who can straighten out what he made crooked?”] and asks the question whether the human spirit is encoded on genes or comes from something higher. The religious elements are in the background, yet they serve to fix the themes of the film. Vincent’s mother clutches a rosary, cross visibly displayed, as she gives birth to her “faith-child.” The symbol on the identity cards of the designer people is an infinity symbol, but on the cards of the normal people is a cross. When Vincent is accepted to go to Saturn, Jerome [genome] exclaims pregnantly: “They’re sending you up there, for Christ’s sake! You! Of all people!”
The spiral stairway in Jerome Morrow’s (played by Jude Law) house is formed as a double-helix model of DNA. One reviewer considered genetic engineering a positive: “With genetic engineering, we could get rid of unwanted traits, such as baldness, obesity, and even genetic diseases.” We could also get rid of the children who have “unwanted traits” once they are born so they could not pass them on. It’s called eugenics (good genes). Who ultimately makes the determination? (Read more.)

Gracious Words

From iBenedictines:
St Benedict devotes a whole chapter of his Rule to restraint in speech (RB 6) and often mentions the value of the good word or blessing that we pass on to others. He is concerned, too, about the way in which we shape our words in choir or as we read in the refectory, how we address one another in the cloister, and how we use words (or not) to welcome a guest. I think most readers of this blog know that it was reflecting on hospitality in the Rule of St Benedict that led the community here to develop an internet outreach at a time when it was still unfashionable among ‘churchy’ types. It is what drives our engagement with social media today, but I think we are facing a new challenge; and if we are, then you, the reader, are, too. 
It is not enough to make a resolution to avoid profanity, for example, or refuse to join in when others are casting slurs on the integrity of others. That can look a little like holier-than-thou tactics to avoid drawing fire on one’s own head, though I would endorse both as being part of civilized discourse. When Jesus is described as uttering gracious words, we have to consider what made them gracious. Content, style, purpose, yes; but something more, the something John tells us about in 1 John 4: love. I wonder how often love of others prompts our words, and how often it is simply love of self, the desire to be heard? Being more self-aware without becoming self-obsessed is a difficult art but one I think we all need to master, both online and off. It may change how we perceive words and how we use them. The most gracious word ever spoken was made flesh at Christmas. That’s how important words are and what we need to ponder. (Read more.)

Friday, January 17, 2020

Monet's Giverny

 From Dusty Old Thing:
Monet lived at this house from 1883 until his death in 1926. His famous garden was immortalized in his paintings. The house is where he painted such masterpieces as Flowering Arches, Giverny, Water Lilies and the Japanese Bridge, and his other famous Waterlilies series.

Monet rented the house for the first 7 years he lived there, moving his family into the quaint home. He then purchased the home in 1890. His large blended family (comprised of his children and step children) all lived there, although he didn’t marry his second wife until 1892. Both the inside and outside of the home reflected his love of color, from the paint on the walls to the flowers in the gardens.

Monet went on to buy an additional garden plot at the back and proceeded to create a lively and vibrant outdoor space that surrounded his house. (Read more.)

Voters Widely Accept Misinformation

From Intellectual Takeout:
NBC News reporter and political director Chuck Todd recently railed against “misinformation” and singled out President Trump and “the right” for having an “incentive structure” to spread it. Todd, who according to NBC, “is responsible for all aspects of the network’s political coverage,” also stated that Republicans criticize the media for “sport” and “the loudest chanters of fake news” are “the ones who, under a lie detector, would probably take our word over any word they’ve heard from the other side on whether something was poisonous or not.”

Speaking directly to those unsupported claims, a scientific survey commissioned by Just Facts shows that many people are indeed misinformed – but contrary to Todd – this is a bipartisan affair. In fact, the survey found that the most commonly believed misinformation accords with left-leaning narratives spread by the press, and Democrat voters are more likely to accept these falsehoods than Trump voters. Furthermore, sizable portions of Trump voters have swallowed some of these media-promoted liberal fictions, as well as some conservative ones.

The findings are from a nationally representative annual survey commissioned by Just Facts, a non-profit research and educational institute. The survey was conducted by Triton Polling & Research, an academic research firm that used sound methodologies to assess U.S. residents who regularly vote. (Read more.)

The World’s Oldest Illustrated Book

From Artnet:
Egyptologists have discovered the oldest copy of what is being called the world’s first illustrated book, a 4,000-year-old edition of the “Book of Two Ways,” an ancient Egyptian guide to the afterlife considered to be a forerunner to the “Book of the Dead.” The text predates previously known versions by some 40 years.

The find was first published in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology in September by Harco Willems, a professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium. Unlike modern books, these historic writings weren’t inscribed on bound pages, but on the walls of sarcophagi. They were meant to aid the deceased through the perilous journey to the underworld, during which they might be beset by demons or raging fires. If one were to cast the correct spells, he or she might achieve immortality.

Though the plank’s inscriptions reference a governor named Djehutynakht, Willems’s research has revealed that the coffin originally held the remains of a woman named Ankh, referred to throughout the text as “he.” That is in keeping with Egyptian mythology, where rebirth was the purview of male deities, and dead women adopted male pronouns to be more like Osiris, god of death. (Read more.)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The York Gospels and DNA

From The Atlantic:
The York Gospels were assembled more than a thousand years ago. Bound in leather, illustrated, and illuminated, the book contains the four gospels of the Bible as well as land records and oaths taken by clergymen who read, rubbed, and kissed its pages over centuries. The Archbishops of York still swear their oaths on this book. 
The York Gospels are also, quite literally, a bunch of old cow and sheep skins. Skin has DNA, and DNA has its own story to tell. A group of archaeologists and geneticists in the United Kingdom have now analyzed the remarkably rich DNA reservoir of the York Gospels. They found DNA from humans who swore oaths on its pages and from bacteria likely originating on the hands and mouths of those humans. Best of all though, they found 1,000-year-old DNA from the cows and sheep whose skin became the parchment on which the book is written. (Read more.)