Saturday, February 28, 2015

Burial of Marie-Antoinette

In the Madeleine Cemetery. (Via Vive la Reine.) Share

Lincoln and the Occult

From Smithsonian:
Charles J. Colchester also warned Lincoln. He was no solicitous friend, like Swett or Cole. Indeed, Lincoln hardly knew Colchester. But he was important to Mary Todd Lincoln, the president’s wife, and had become a regular visitor to the White House. Oddly, this strange character, a spiritualist and medium, was the one person Lincoln should have heeded. Colchester needed none of his prophetic powers to realize the president was in danger. His information likely came from the best of earthly sources—his friend John Wilkes Booth.

The story of Lincoln, Booth and Colchester—which has been overlooked in the considerable literature on the president’s assassination—began, in a sense, on the afternoon of February 20, 1862. About 5 p.m. that day, the Lincolns’ son Willie died at age 11, apparently of typhoid fever. Sweet-tempered Willie was the most intelligent and best-looking of the four Lincoln boys, and the one most like his father in personality. Both parents idolized him. Having lost their son Eddie 12 years earlier, when he was 3, they were devastated to be revisited by this peculiarly cruel sort of tragedy.

“His death was the most crushing affliction Mr. Lincoln had ever been called upon to pass through,” recalled the artist Francis Carpenter, who lived in the White House for six months while he painted the famous portrait of the president and his cabinet at the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. Willie had died on a Thursday. The following Thursday, Lincoln shut himself up in the Green Room to grieve, and he began a routine of withdrawing there each succeeding Thursday. Mary and her older sister Elizabeth Todd Edwards became alarmed over his state of mind, so they arranged for the Rev. Francis Vinton of Trinity Church in New York City to visit the president. Imperious and opinionated, Vinton, a lawyer and soldier by education, told Lincoln he was fighting with God by indulging his grief in this manner.

Lincoln heard Vinton out as if he were in a stupor until the minister said, “Your son is alive.”

“Alive! Alive!” Lincoln repeated, jumping up from a sofa. “Surely you mock me.”

“My dear sir,” Vinton responded as he placed an arm around the president. “Seek not your son among the dead. He is not there. He lives today in Paradise.” Vinton’s hopeful words notwithstanding, the cold comfort of the president’s fatalism was his chief solace. As he explained to his former law partner, William Herndon: “Things were to be, and they came, irresistibly came, doomed to come.” (Read more.)
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Friday, February 27, 2015

The Imperial Family of Russia, 1902

From Tiny-Librarian. Share

The Racism of Margaret Sanger

From Life Site:
As a eugenicist, Sanger encouraged the sterilization of persons with less desirable qualities, and strongly encouraged the reproduction of groups with more desirable qualities. Sanger’s disdain for blacks, minority groups, and the diseased and disabled spawned the birth of an abortion corporation that profits off the killing of the weakest and most vulnerable. From its conception, Planned Parenthood was built upon the roots of exterminating individuals deemed “unfit” for the human family.

Today, the spirit of Sanger lives on. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the former pro-abortion research division of Planned Parenthood, African-American women are five times more likely to choose abortion over white women. Planned Parenthood clinics are strategically planted in minority communities, targeting blacks and impoverished minority groups, and abortion remains the leading cause of death for the black community....

In 1926, Sanger spoke at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1926 in Silver Lake, New Jersey. Following the invitation, Sanger describes her elation after receiving multiple speaking requests from white supremacy groups. She writes of the experience on page 366 of her book, An Autobiography:
I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan … I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses … I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak … In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered.
(Read more.)
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

The "Arrival Gown"

Reading Treasure studies the costumes of the 1938 film Marie Antoinette. To quote:
The "arrival gown" is the gown worn by Marie Antoinette when she first arrives at Versailles. The dress is directly inspired by a portrait of a young Marie Antoinette created shortly after she became the dauphine of France. Like the other 'early' gowns worn by Marie Antoinette in the film, the dress is very youthful and innocent.

According to the notes on the concept design for the dress, the "arrival gown" is pink organdy with blue ribbons and flower embellishments. (Read more.)

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Interview with an Exorcist

An exorcist discusses that dreadful film. From Aleteia:
 Recreation is supposed to re-create us, but this desecrates. The movie makes a mockery of what God created. It is the spirit of irony that the main character is named Christian Grey.  He acts in another way, not as a Christian. And grey? There cannot be shades of Christianity; it’s all or nothing. It is the devil that tries to convince us there is a grey area of right and wrong, and it is the devil that mocks.
 
In the Mass, we celebrate the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ and his divinity. But in a black mass, everything is upside down and mocked. The holy is made unholy. Just as sex in marriage is a holy gift, in the movie it is against virtue and chastity and against God’s creation. That is what the devil does. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Van Gogh Retrospective

From Architectural Digest:
The drawings from this period are rough compared with Van Gogh’s later works, but they offer a lens through which to view the immortal paintings he produced over the decade to come. Simple charcoal sketches of miners’ cottages drawn in 1879, for example, are linked to his later Farmhouse with Two Figures or Street in Auvers-sur-Oise (both completed in 1890, the year of his untimely death). The exhibition also sheds light on the passions and struggles of Van Gogh’s early years. “You can see then that I’m working like mad, but for the moment it isn’t giving very heartening results,” he wrote to Theo. “But I have hopes that these thorns will bear white flowers in their time, and that this apparently sterile struggle is nothing other than a labour of giving birth. First pain, then joy afterwards.” (Read more.)
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The New Coptic Martyrs

From Abbey Roads:
The Coptic Orthodox Church has announced that the murder of the 21 Egyptian Christians killed by the so-called Islamic State in Libya will be commemorated in its Church calendar.  Pope Tawadros II announced that the names of the martyrs will be inserted into the Coptic Synaxarium, the Oriental Church’s equivalent to the Roman Martyrology. This procedure is also equivalent to canonization in the Latin Church. - Vatican Radio
(Read more.)
More HERE.

The blood of the Coptic martyrs stains the sea in Libya
"And the second angel sounded the trumpet: and as it were a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea, and the third part of the sea became blood...." Apocalypse 8:8 Share

Traveling with Slaves

American Creation quotes Thomas Jefferson:
 I have made enquiries on the subject of the negro boy you have brought, and find that the laws of France give him freedom if he claims it, and that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to interrupt the course of the law. Nevertheless I have known an instance where a person bringing in a slave, and saying nothing about it, has not been disturbed in his possession. I think it will be easier in your case to pursue the same plan, as the boy is so young that it is not probable he will think of claiming freedom. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An Architectural Treasure

Virginia of the Chartreuse Life visits the charming village of New Windsor, Maryland. To quote:
I have long loved New Windsor, Maryland for its exceptional collection of early 19th century homes.  I first discovered it during my college years – my then-boyfriend (now husband), Chip, attended college in Westminster, Maryland, and the best route there from Frederick was Rt. 26 to Libertytown, and then a left onto Rt 31 (which has some beautiful homes.  Have someone else drive so you don’t miss any of them!).  Rt 31 takes you right into the small, but charming town of New Windsor. (Read more.)
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Modernity, Myth and the Scapegoat

From Histories of Things to Come:
It is too simplistic to dismiss Heidegger's thoughts on being and time as aspects of the Nazi narrative. But it is also wrong to say that his ideas can be read separately from their Nazi context. Heidegger was in the same ballpark, and that demands a serious reappraisal of his ideas.

In building their Aryan mythology against the Jews, the Nazis ironically appropriated the Hebraic concept of scapegoating. The scapegoat was originally an early Archaic, pre-Classical improvement (dating from around the seventh century BCE) on the sacrificial rites of other ancient societies. Scapegoating, a mental gambit which is alive and well today, occurs when one projects one's sins onto a goat and sends it off into the desert to die; this leaves one free from blame and responsibility, and able to get on with life without feeling guilty for one's wrongdoings.

The Nazis had a love-hate affair with modernization. In part, they were extremely advanced, yet their advancement demanded a scary divestment of older agrarian views which they held dear. In the assimilated Jews of Europe, they found an easy scapegoat for the angst and moral inconsistencies which arose from going too far, too fast.

The conflict between an embattled and fading traditional way of life and a modern international capitalism or communism informed the central narrative of the 19th and 20th centuries. At this point, several thinkers, not just Heidegger, grappled with the West's rapid advancement and loss of innocence. The West split into factions, which went to war with one another over precisely this problem. For all the profits that came out of the Great Depression - advancements in business, medicine, education and public health - the 20th century West endured a so-called Hemoclysm, or flood of blood. Genocide. Apartheid. The unspeakable disappearances in South America. Clutch your beast of a tablet if you must, but understand that it arrived in your hands at a terrible price.

The divided West spawned many reactionaries who devised different responses to the struggle between modernization (and postmodernization) and tradition. While German Naziism partly informed Heidegger's recipe for Authentic 'rooted' Being, a contending outlook came from a contemporary, also a professor, who saw how industry challenged the European soul. This alternative came from J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973), whose study of early medieval languages and sagas laid the groundwork for his Middle Earth stories, including The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

A friend sniffily dismissed Tolkien's works as "children's stories," but this view completely misrepresents their significance. In England, Tolkien and his friend, C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) - like Heidegger in Germany - worried about the damage inflicted by industrialization on Western society. Both Tolkien and Lewis recognized the eternal human power of story-telling. While Lewis merged Christianity with fantasy and science fiction, Tolkien's central aim was to provide the West with a lost origin Ur-saga, a core common myth, using his scholarly study of Scandanavian early medieval sagas as his 'later' model. In a very modern way, Tolkien created an faux ancient myth suitable for modern times, based on the prehistoric memory of Atlantis, source of the "legendary West, a place of lost lands and mystery." Tolkien's Middle Earth stories were a form of modern Humanism, to help his readers cope with the fears and confusion sparked by industrial and technological alienation. Having fought in the First World War, Tolkien was aware of the devastation caused when western countries lost their common narrative through modernization. (Read more.)
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Monday, February 23, 2015

The First Born of Maria Theresa

The first born child of Emperor Francis and Empress Maria Theresa. To quote:
On this day in history, February 5th, in 1737, Archduchess Maria Elisabeth Amalia Antonia Josepha Gabriele Johanna Agathe of Austria was born. Known as Maria Elisabeth, she was the first of many children born to Maria Theresa and Francis I, and was born only a week before their first wedding anniversary.

Initially they were disappointed at the lack of a son, but the lively child soon became a favourite of her parents and her grandfather, Charles VI. 

On June 7, 1740, at the age of just three years old, she began to suffer from stomach cramps and vomiting and died in her father’s arms. Elisabeth was buried in Tomb 48 in the Imperial Crypt. A younger sister, born three years after her death, would be named in her honour.
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British Queens and the Virgin Mary

From Confessions of a Ci-devant:
Marie de Guise, the statuesque French widow who famously rejected Henry VIII's clumsy proposal of marriage by making a thinly-veiled quip about poor Anne Boleyn, went on to marry Henry's estranged nephew, King James V of Scotland, a man torn between his twin desires for flesh and faith. Marie had just given birth to their only surviving child, Mary, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 1542, when James sickened and died, apparently broken by Scotland's defeat at the hands of the English army. Threatened by Henry VIII, Marie sent her daughter to France to live with her French family, the Guises, arguably the most powerful non-reigning clan in Europe at the time. Eventually, a marriage was arranged with the young girl to the French Dauphin. Back in Scotland, Marie held on to the reins of government in her daughter's name. It was a thankless task for which she was vilified by the new Protestant sect known as Presbyterianism, which originated in Scotland and which viewed the French-born Catholic queen regent as an evil strumpet. Pious and dignified, Marie died at Edinburgh Castle of oedema at the age of forty-four. (Read more.)
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ribbon à l’inoculation

Here is a picture of the style which encouraged the French to inoculate against smallpox. To quote:
A 1785 fashion plate depicting an ensemble with a hat trimmed in ‘ribbon à l’inoculation,’ a reference to the smallpox vaccinations which became popular after Louis XV died from smallpox in 1774. Note the spots on the ribbon, which likely reference the pustules experienced by sufferers of the disease.

Read more about vaccination’s influence on 18th century fashion (and vice versa) in Kimberly Chrisman-Cambpell’s article, How Fashion Helped Defeat 18th-Century Anti-Vaxxers
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The Last Days of Anne Neville

From The Tudor Society:
Anne and her husband, King Richard III, were together for the Christmas celebrations of 1484. Her attendants now included the former King Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth and perhaps a few of her younger sisters, such as Cecily, who had been freed from sanctuary by her mother the previous March. We are not sure of Anne's feelings about having the Woodville girls with her at Christmas, perhaps she found it pleasant having their company, or maybe she was wary of their motives. Alison Weir remarks in her book The Princes in the Tower that the Princess Elizabeth ‘was ranked familiarly in the queens favour, who treated her as a sister." Anne was ten years Elizabeth's senior and had experienced the trials of queenship, which Elizabeth had grown up being prepared for. The Crowland Chronicler states that at the Christmas feast 'far too much attention was given to dancing and gaiety' and to frequent changes of matching clothes by Queen Anne and the Lady Elizabeth. Rumors had already started to circulate that Richard wished to marry his niece, Elizabeth. After the favour shown to the vivacious York princess at Christmas, The Crowland Chronicler continues, a tale spread that the king was determined to marry her either after Anne's death 'or by means of a divorce for which he believed he had sufficient grounds.' However, the chronicler offers no suggestion as to what these grounds may have been, and this was probably no more than popular gossip throughout court. These rumors undoubtedly found their way back to Anne and must have made her question their reliability. The queen was well aware of her inability to produce any more children, and Princess Elizabeth was the daughter of a woman who had produced at least twelve children with many surviving infancy. A marriage to his niece would more than likely produce an heir for Richard if Elizabeth had inherited her mother's fertility.

By the late winter of 1484 Anne was suffering from a ‘mortal illness.’ There are few clues as to the identification of Anne's illness. All we know is that its duration was two months and that Richard was advised by his physicians to avoid her bed. From this piece of information, a number of illnesses can be considered. Anne may have been suffering from tuberculosis, a common airborne illness which in the medieval period had a high mortality rate. Another possibility could be an attack of influenza, which combined with a weak immune system and other ailments could be fatal. There was even vicious gossip that Richard wished to poison Anne so he could finally marry his niece. However, there is no evidence to prove this rumour's authenticity.

During this time, a marriage deal involving Elizabeth was being considered for Richard's widowhood. It was to be a double marriage between Richard and the Portuguese Princess Joanna, and Elizabeth and the Portuguese Prince Manuel. Joanna was a highly pious woman and had already vehemently refused several marriage propositions, but these plans came to nothing anyway because Richard died in 1485. It would have been virtually impossible for Richard to marry Elizabeth due to opposition in the North, where much of his property lay and where Anne was much admired by the people, being the last surviving daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker. (Read more.)
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

How to Walk Down the Stairs

Advice from Miss Janice. To quote:
I was taught that you stand at the top of the stairs with your head held high and shoulders back.  Turn your body at slight angle away from the stair rail and place your hand on the rail.  Don't grip the rail unless you start to fall.  If there is no rail, you are on your own.  Glide down the stairs gracefully.  This takes practice, practice, practice y'all. (Read more.)
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The Neurochemistry of Positive Conversations

From Harvard Business Review:
Why do negative comments and conversations stick with us so much longer than positive ones?

A critique from a boss, a disagreement with a colleague, a fight with a friend – the sting from any of these can make you forget a month’s worth of praise or accord. If you’ve been called lazy, careless, or a disappointment, you’re likely to remember and internalize it. It’s somehow easier to forget, or discount, all the times people have said you’re talented or conscientious or that you make them proud.

Chemistry plays a big role in this phenomenon. When we face criticism, rejection or fear, when we feel marginalized or minimized, our bodies produce higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that shuts down the thinking center of our brains and activates conflict aversion and protection behaviors. We become more reactive and sensitive. We often perceive even greater judgment and negativity than actually exists. And these effects can last for 26 hours or more, imprinting the interaction on our memories and magnifying the impact it has on our future behavior. Cortisol functions like a sustained-release tablet – the more we ruminate about our fear, the longer the impact.

Positive comments and conversations produce a chemical reaction too. They spur the production of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that elevates our ability to communicate, collaborate and trust others by activating networks in our prefrontal cortex. But oxytocin metabolizes more quickly than cortisol, so its effects are less dramatic and long-lasting.

This “chemistry of conversations” is why it’s so critical for all of us -especially managers – to be more mindful about our interactions. Behaviors that increase cortisol levels reduce what I call “Conversational Intelligence” or “C-IQ,” or a person’s ability to connect and think innovatively, empathetically, creatively and strategically with others. Behaviors that spark oxytocin, by contrast, raise C-IQ. (Read more.)
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Gluck at the Trianon

Gluck playing for Marie-Antoinette and her ladies. Via Vive la Reine. Share

Celtic Round Houses

How the British Celts lived. To quote:
The British Celts lived in roundhouses. We know this from the archaeological remains that have been excavated and dated to the Iron Age. The size of the roundhouses can be seen from the rain ditches which surround the houses. From those ditches we know that some of the roundhouses in the hill fort were quite big and that there was room for a lot of people inside.
 
The archaeological record for these roundhouses is incomplete due to the decomposition of organic materials and the removal and reuse of their contents elsewhere. However, Castell Henllys Iron Age Hill Fort probably provides the most authentic reconstruction of Iron Age roundhouses in Britain. (Read more.)
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Doors of Paris

From The Chartreuse Life:
I have always had a love of architecture, and doors in particular.  They are the life-line to the space within, and as such have far more impact than we often give them credit for.  As I strolled through the extraordinarily beautiful streets of Paris, it was the seemingly infinite variety of portals – size, shape, color, embellishment – one right after the other. (Read more.)
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What ISIS Really Wants

From The Atlantic:
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.

We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.

Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)

We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in 1997, titled his first book Holy War, Inc. in part to acknowledge bin Laden as a creature of the modern secular world. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. He requested specific political concessions, such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently. On Mohammad Atta’s last full day of life, he shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut. (Read more.)
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The Ambassadors

Television producer George Lerner’s debut novel The Ambassadors tells the turbulent story of a Mossad operative who in his determination to save the world loses his family. Traumatized by witnessing the Holocaust and other World War II experiences, Jacob Furman must also face a family tragedy, which proves to him that, even in America, Jews are not safe. He becomes an agent for the Mossad and spends his life traveling around the world trying rescue Jewish communities in crisis.

He marries a Shoah survivor, a brilliant anthropologist named Susanna, whom he leaves late in her pregnancy in order to go on a mission. She must bear her son alone. Later, when he travels with her to Ethiopia and abandons her in a dangerous situation, she decides to divorce him. Although he continues to live in the basement of their house, Jacob becomes more and more estranged from his son Shalom. His last mission takes him to Rwanda which is in the throes of a genocidal civil war. In the meantime, Shalom goes out of his way to disappoint both of his parents, abusing drugs, alcohol and women along the way.

The narrative is told from the point of view of all three characters, Jacob, Susanna, and Shalom, leading very different lives, until illness unites them at last. The novel is full of international intrigue as well as quiet human pathos and inner transformation.


(*NOTE: The Ambassadors was sent to me by the Historical Novel Society in exchange for my honest opinion.)
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Prince Henry Frederick Stuart

The first Prince of Wales from the House of Stuart was named for his grandfather, Lord Darnley. (Yes, the Lord Darnley.) To quote author Linda Root:
Many historians wrongly refer to Henry Frederick Stuart as the Prince of Wales from the time he arrived in England in 1603.  This is incorrect.  He was not invested with that title until 1610.  His predecessor was Edward Tudor, the boy king Edward VI (1537-1553)  Upon Henry Frederick's  birth in Scotland he was given the customary title of a male Scottish heir apparent, Duke of Rothesay, as well as several lesser grants appropriate to the Scottish heir. However, when he arrived in England he was also conferred the English title Duke of Cornwall.  He had to wait seven more years to become Prince of Wales.  Referring to him as Prince of Wales during his early childhood should be a cause of embarrassment to a any historian or historical novelist who refers to him as Wales prior to 1610 and yet, it is a common mistake.  It is the way he is most often remembered although he only lived two years to enjoy the title. (Read more.)
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The Beautiful Struggle

From Mary Victrix:
In the immortal masterpiece, Don Quixote by the Spanish king of poets, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, we see the complete opposite embodied in the figure of a middle-aged gentleman from the region of La Mancha. Don Quixote befuddles his imagination with the tales of knightly derring-do and fantastic deeds of chivalry. He decides that his world needs such a knight-errant and that he is just the man. Due to his mistreatment of the imagination, Don Quixote too lives in a sort of “never never land,” where he is paradoxically a self-appointed hero who constantly disturbs the peace. We read in chapter 18, that he often saw “in his imagination what he did not see and what did not exist.”

Far from lampooning genuine knighthood, what Cervantes fluently describes and brands with such mordant satire is a degenerated knighthood, stemming from a presumptive use of the imagination—the good old “art for art’s sake.” In consequence, the factor that originally sparks Don Quixote’s wild adventures, namely, an uncontrolled imagination, results in persistent misinterpretations of ordinary events he encounters on the road. The aftermath is only natural. He mistakes the windmills for giants. A funeral procession becomes a troop of devils carrying off a princess. A barber’s basin becomes the miraculous Helmet of Bambrino. We are told of how his unsanctified imagination “immediately conjured all this to him vividly as one of the adventures of his books.” The attempt to live chivalry, while failing to tame the “madman of the house,” only ends in humiliation and suffering.

In all this, the power of the Cervantes’ narrative lies in illustrating the gradual transformation of Don Quixote as he regains the balance of his imagination. In Don Quixote we have an eloquent proof of one thing: reality will always be a salutary kryptonite for those who imagine themselves to be superman. (Read more.)
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An Illustrated Introduction to The Tudors

With all the sundry costume dramas about the Tudors that are available on DVD, cable and streaming, it is easy to become confused about who the major characters are in the various portrayals. Not to mention the dozens of historical novels, both old and new, telling of the rise and fall of kings and queens in sixteenth century England. Gareth Russell's An Illustrated Introduction to The Tudors is therefore indispensable, and can serve as a guide for Tudor novices as well as a refresher course for Tudor aficionados.

I have enjoyed internet debates over the years with Mr. Russell over some of the points brought up in the book. I have agreed with many of his interpretations; he has certainly changed my opinion about Anne Boleyn. I used to see Anne as a heartless opportunist and hussy. Now I see her as a witty, glamorous and highly-intelligent woman who played a ruthless game of chess and lost.

The author's style is as engaging and entertaining as readers have come to expect from his plays, his novels, his Confessions of a Ci-Devant blog, and his book on World War One called The Emperors. The Tudors is Mr. Russell's second non-fiction work and will be followed next year by a biography of Katherine Howard. The volume includes magnificent images of historic persons and sites, together with the author's thorough mastery of his subject. The Tudor era is vivified in a concise and cogent manner.

Mr. Russell tries to be as balanced as possible, although he leans just a little bit to the Protestant side. I do not agree with his statement about Queen Katherine of Aragon resisting an annulment and refusing to go to a convent just in order to save her title. (p.74) An annulment was, and is, a matter of conscience. If one party sincerely feels that the marriage is valid then it is right for them to contest the annulment, as the Queen did. Also, if a woman does not feel a call to the convent, then she should not go. Sometimes women who misbehaved were sent to monasteries but Queen Katherine had never misbehaved.

Mr. Russell looks at the strengths and weaknesses of every reign of the Tudor family, including Henry VII and his parsimony; Henry VIII and his megalomania; Edward VI and his priggish reforms; Lady Jane Grey and her fervent devotion to Protestantism; Mary I and her burnings of heretics, and finally, the most politically successful Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I. I find the analysis between the popular image of Lady Jane Grey versus the image of Mary I to be intriguing. "While Jane Grey was immortalized in paint as Delaroche's virgin-pure martyr, in 2010 the London Dungeons advertised their tours with a portrait of Mary morphing into a blood-drinking zombie." (p.79) This is, of course, because Mary had people burned at the stake, while Jane ruled for only nine days, and later was beheaded, and so became a martyr of the New Religion. Nevertheless, if Jane had reigned long, she may have made life as difficult for Catholics as her cousin Elizabeth did. Elizabeth's political astuteness, as well as her fear of marriage, is shown. It is possible that she reigned so successfully because she remained single, and so she was able to avoid the entanglements that came with having a consort.

I heartily recommend this short, readable history as both an introduction and a review. It is the perfect book to have on hand for quick consultation. For those who love English history, it makes an important addition to any library.

*NOTE: The book was sent to me by the author's representative in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"If Ever I Cease To Love"

It is Mardi Gras. "If Ever I Cease To Love" is the theme song of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It is a song which does not make sense, but then neither does love, most of the time. Just a few more hours and it will be Lent.
In a house, in a square in a quadrant
In a street, in a lane, in a road.

Turn to the left on the right hand
You see there my true love's abode

I go there a courting, And cooing to my love like a dove;
And swearing on my bended knee, If Ever I Cease To Love,
May sheep-heads grow on apple trees, If Ever I Cease To Love.

Chorus:
If Ever I Cease To Love, If Ever I Cease To Love,
May the moon be turn'd to green cream cheese,
If Ever I Cease To Love
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More Coptic Martyrs

From Abbey-Roads: "Whoever loses his life for my sake, will find it in eternity, says the Lord."- Common for Martyrs


From Vultus Christi: "Their only words: 'Jesus, help me!'"


Let us have courage like our brothers in faith. The assassins who killed them have accomplished nothing but increase the number of saints in Heaven. Every Christian in the world will look upon those brave martyrs and find strength and fortitude. In trying to destroy us, the enemy had made us strong.
But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery: And their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace. And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality. Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of himself. ~Wisdom 3: 1-5

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The Wall

Many books have been written about the Shoah, and many more will be in the future. Few, however, are as haunting and utterly heart-wrenching as The Wall, which takes the reader inside the head of a man who has survived the hell on earth of the Nazi death camps. The Wall is not only a literary masterpiece, but literary history is made as well. Translated by Peter Filkins, this edition is the first English version of the magnum opus of H. G. Adler, scholar and Holocaust survivor. The novel is the continuous stream of consciousness of its protagonist, Arthur Landau, a former professor, who returns to his native city like one come back from the dead. He is overwhelmed by the feeling that he himself no longer exists as he stumbles into people he used to know as well as new acquaintances, who try ineffectually to help him. Written without chapter breaks, the story veers from reality to dreams to memories and back to reality again, as Arthur tries to absorb everything he has survived as well as the basic fact that he is still alive. While few experiences compare to the horrors of a concentration camp, many who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder will identify with the main character’s sense of alienation and dissociation. It is only through the healing relationship with his loving wife, Joanna, and having the courage to start a family does Arthur begin to find a foothold in the world, and see life as a gift instead of a curse.
 
This review originally appeared in the February 2015 edition of The Historical Novels Review.

(*NOTE: The Wall was sent to me by the Historical Novel Society in exchange for my honest opinion.)


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Monday, February 16, 2015

Comtesse d'Artois

Wife of Comte d'Artois and Marie-Antoinette's sister-in-law. Mother of the Duc de Berry and Louis XIX. Via Vive la Reine. Share

Dressing Like a Lady

A brave girl makes a bold statement:
“If you dress like a lady you will be treated like a lady. A short skirt or perhaps more a see-through top, encourages a man to come and take advantage, it encourages unwanted attention.
“I go to nightclubs like other girls my age and when I do I’m always struck by the same thing.
“You walk into a room all the guys are looking at you, just up and down like you’re a piece of meat and I think if girls had longer skirts they would feel more confident and safe.
“I think there is a certain element of responsibility that comes with designing clothes and an element of responsibility when it comes to wearing them.
“I don’t believe anyone under any circumstances should be taken advantage of, however when it comes to clothes, young women have to take responsibility for their look if they do not wish to be left in a vulnerable position.” (Read more.)
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Princesse de Lamballe as a Child

Via Tiny-Librarian. A childhood portrait of the lovely Marie-Louise-Thérèse de Savoie-Carignan, who was to become the sweet widowed friend of Marie-Antoinette, and died at the hands of the revolutionary mob. Share

Secrets to Creativity

From the HuffPost:
Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process.

Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don't have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works.

And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they're complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. And it's not just a stereotype of the "tortured artist" -- artists really may be more complicated people. Research has suggested that creativity involves the coming together of a multitude of traits, behaviors and social influences in a single person.

"It's actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self," Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University who has spent years researching creativity, told The Huffington Post. "The things that stand out the most are the paradoxes of the creative self ... Imaginative people have messier minds." (Read more.)
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A Soldier's Fare

From Smithsonian:
Even before a food supply system was organized, on June 10, 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Council set the daily allowance or ration for its troops in Boston as:
  1. One pound of bread
  2. Half a pound of beef and half a pound of pork; and if pork cannot be had, one pound and a quarter of beef; and one day in seven they shall have one pound and one quarter of salt fish, instead of one day's allowance of meat
  3. One pint of milk, or if milk cannot be had, one gill [half a cup] of rice
  4. One quart of good spruce or malt beer
  5. One gill of peas or beans, or other sauce equivalent
  6. Six ounces of good butter per week
  7. One pound of good common soap for six men per week
  8. Half a pint of vinegar per week per man, if it can be had.
(Read more.)
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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love Letters

From the Brownings.
“I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett...”

So begins the first love letter to 19th century poet Elizabeth Barrett from her future husband, fellow poet Robert Browning. Their 573 love letters, which capture their courtship, their blossoming love and their forbidden marriage, have long fascinated scholars and poetry fans. Though transcriptions of their correspondence have been published in the past, the handwritten letters could only be seen at Wellesley College, where the collection has been kept since 1930. But beginning Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, their famous love letters will become available online where readers can see them — just as they were written — with creased paper, fading ink, quill pen cross outs, and even the envelopes the two poets used.

The digitization project is a collaboration between Wellesley and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, which houses the world’s largest collection of books, letters and other items related to the Brownings. Wellesley administrators hope the project will expose students, romantics, poetry lovers and others to their love story. Barrett, one of the most well-known poets of the Victorian era, suffered from chronic illness and was in her late 30s when Browning first wrote her in 1845 to tell her he admired her work. In their fifth month of corresponding, they met for the first time, introduced by Barrett’s cousin.

After more than a year of almost daily letters between them, the couple married in secret in September 1846, defying her father’s prohibition against her ever marrying. They fled from London to Italy, where doctors had told Barrett her health might improve. Her father disinherited her and never spoke to her again.

“It’s the fact that she defied her father, she was in ill health, they fell in love through letters, she left with hardly anything,” said Ruth Rogers, Wellesley’s curator of special collections. “If you want a perfect romance, just read the letters,” she said. (Read entire post.)
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The Vaccine Debate

From Dr. Lina Abujamra:
#1 This debate is not about vaccines at all. It’s about control. 
No matter how hard we try, we can’t make safe happen. We will always have only a small measure of control over the outcome of our kids health. That doesn’t mean you get to check your brain at the door, but sooner or later, you are going to have to trust your children’s health to the God who created them.

#2 This debate is not driven by science. It’s driven by fear.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s certainly a lot of science involved in the vaccine debate, but what has motivated the fisticuffs over this issue has little to do with science and everything to do with fear. We are afraid of what might happen to our kids to the point of exhaustion. God’s peace overcomes our deepest fears if we’ll turn to Him for comfort.

#3 This debate puts personal opinion in the drivers seat. It’s forgotten about love.
We live in a country where we’re blessed with the freedom of speech and opinion. That’s awesome. But as followers of Jesus, we ought to rather be known by our love for one another. Let’s not lose sight of people in our quest to be right. Let’s not get arrogant and think we know better than whoever is our villain for the day. Let’s first and foremost be known by our love.

#4 This debate has created an “Us vs. Them” mentality. It’s a lose lose for all.
We’ve picked sides, drawn lines in the sand, and made our decisions. Some of us have even quit talking to others because of our disdain over their decisions about vaccines and diaper choices. May God forgive us our petty disregard for each other, and our desire to “win” the battles that don’t matter in eternity.

#5 When it comes to public forums for debate, social media gets a big fat F.
If there’s anything I’m learning it’s that the idea that we can rule the world from our desks via Facebook and Twitter is plain wrong. Nothing will destroy our relationships faster than our wielding our so called power of opinion via social media. What if we were to sit with each other over a meal and talk about our differences? What if we were to hear what’s behind our words and opinions and see the root of our fears?

We might just find that we have a whole lot in common with each other than we initially thought. (Read more.)

And here is an article on the grim realities from The Washington Examiner:
 Those framing the issue in such absolutist terms need to get a grip. This is still America, where parents have always been responsible for their own children. One cannot simply deploy the SWAT Team to administer forced vaccinations or remove the offspring of those who resist science and common sense.

The state has an interest in vaccinating as many people as possible. A failure to do so affects more than just the children of anti-vaccine zealots. Some people simply cannot be immunized — infants, children suffering certain diseases, and a small number of vaccine recipients for whom it is ineffective. When parents refuse to vaccinate their children, they are also endangering all of these people as well. The recent incident at Disneyland, in which at least four dozen children were infected with the measles, illustrates this.

As every parent knows, schools cause diseases to spread through even the healthiest communities. Children bring them to school, and children bring them home to their families. There is thus an enormous state interest in making sure children who do not get vaccinations are barred from attending them with other children.

In Marin County, California, where vaccination opt-out rates are extremely high, some pediatric practices simply refuse to see unvaccinated children, lest their offices become breeding grounds for dangerous diseases. These are both legitimate ways of dissuading parents from foolishness without resorting to fascism.

Parents have the natural and legal right to make most decisions for their young children. It would set a terrible precedent to criminalize decisions like this one and create an individual vaccination mandate. (Read more.)
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Benefits of Coconut Oil

From Popsugar:
Coconut oil is the It oil right now, and the good news is that there is no harm in getting your little one in on the amazing potential this oil has to offer. While we appreciate coconut oil as a beauty must-have, your child may also benefit from its antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Any time we can ditch those chemicals on our baby, we're all ears, so check out these wonderful uses for coconut oil on your baby. Just be sure to stick to an organic version. (Read more.)
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Friday, February 13, 2015

Tudor Dining

From History Extra:
In Tudor England, maintaining the difference between ranks was so important to the concept of a well-ordered society that efforts were made to enshrine the distinctions between the classes in ‘sumptuary’ laws. These laws tried to control what you ate and wore, according to your position in the God-given hierarchy, which stretched from the king at the top, down through the numerous grades of nobility and clergy, to the gentry, yeomen and finally the labourers at the bottom of the heap.

Of course, for the poorest, sumptuary laws were not terribly relevant. Labourers would not often be able to afford more than pottage – the staple dish – and you could eat as much of that as your budget would allow. The rich ate pottage too, but instead of what was basically cabbage soup with some barley or oats – and a sniff of bacon if you were lucky – a nobleman’s pottage might contain almonds, ginger and saffron, as well as wine.

However, for aspiring courtiers who spent fortunes trying to outdo one other in lavish display, the sumptuary law was very relevant indeed. Failure to obey it could earn you a fine, as well as contempt for trying to ‘ape your betters’. In theory, even the nobles were supposed to limit the amount spent on food each year to about 10 per cent of their capital, although that was for their immediate family, and did not include the amount to be spent on the household.

The other rule to take into account was the strict observance of fasting on Fridays, Saturdays and, sometimes, Wednesdays too. Fasting did not mean going without food altogether, just eschewing flesh, and, in Lent, butter, eggs and dairy foods as well. Children, pregnant women and the elderly were not expected to fast, however, and it was possible to obtain a dispensation from fasting, but this was exceptional.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was hauled before the King’s Council and severely reprimanded in 1543 for flagrantly eating meat during Lent. He was either deliberately risking an accusation of heresy (the reformed church being inclined to see fasting as superstitious), or he actively disliked fish.

Pocket permitting, meat was replaced by an extraordinary array of fish and other seafoods, including seal and porpoise, the latter apparently a great favourite of Katharine of Aragon.

Monarchs, although strictly observing the rules of fasting, were, of course, unlimited in what they could eat, or provide for their guests and courtiers. On flesh days at Henry VIII’s court, a staggering range of meats and fowl would be enjoyed, including brawn, beef, mutton, bacon, goose, veal and lamb. Kid, hens, capons and peacocks also featured, as did cygnet, mallard, teal, woodcock, ousels, thrush, robins, cranes, bitterns, buzzards and venison of all sorts. Venison was the king of meats – not available to buy, it was hunted in the deer parks of the king and his nobles, and frequently given as a present.  Henry VIII sent a hart to Anne Boleyn as a symbol of courtship. (Read more.)
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Will a Future Pope Flee Rome?

From Catholic World Report:
Where will the Pope live when Rome falls to Islam?

It’s not an idle question. For one thing, there is historical precedent. Popes have been forced from Rome in the past. For another thing, numerous Islamic authorities have explicitly targeted Rome for conquest.

Rome may be the Eternal City, but it has seen rough times. In 846, for instance, Pope Leo IV had to briefly flee Rome when it was attacked by an Arab fleet. The following year, he ordered the construction of a great wall around the Vatican to protect it from marauding Muslims. Even as recently as the 1940s, Rome was occupied by a foreign army. Although the Nazis left the pope alone, there is no guarantee that that situation would have continued had the Germans been able to keep the Allied forces at bay.

If Rome ever falls to Islam, the pope—whoever he may be at that time—may choose to remain in Rome and suffer the almost certain martyrdom that would follow. That is up to him and the Holy Spirit. However, in light of the escalating Islamization of Europe, it would seem prudent for Vatican officials to draw up some contingency plans. If the pope chooses exile, it would probably have to be in North or South American since it’s unlikely there will be any safe havens in Europe. In fact, Italy is currently a safer place than many other European nations. Although many Muslim immigrants pass through Italy, it is not their first choice of residence. Other European countries offer much more generous welfare incentives than does Italy. Countries such as England, Belgium, France, Sweden, and Germany are likely to fall first.

By “fall,” I don’t mean that these countries will fall to Muslim armies. That probably won’t be necessary. What we will see—what we are already witnessing—is a slow, steady process of submission. Well, slow and steady up to a point—and then, a rapid acceleration.

Some places in Europe seem already to be in the rapid acceleration phase. Birmingham, England now has more Muslim than Christian children. “That means,” as Mark Steyn observes, “that absent any countervailing dynamic, its future is Muslim.” What will that future look like? Steyn comments:

If you’re a Muslim girl, the authorities will systematically turn a blind eye to forced marriages and honor violence and, if you’re a lower-class infidel girl, to “grooming.” If you’re boorish enough to draw attention to such unpleasantness, you’ll be committing a hate crime… 

It’s not necessary to consult a crystal ball to see the future of Birmingham (England’s second largest city). The forced marriages of Muslim girls and the grooming of lower-class girls is already a reality in England. And so is the blind eye response. Most Americans don’t know about it, but it was recently revealed that over a sixteen-year period, 1400 girls in the city of Rotherham had been groomed, gang-raped, and traded by Muslim gangs—and all with the full knowledge of police, city officials, and child protection agencies. No one in authority did anything about it because no one wanted to be charged with “committing a hate crime” by singling out Muslims. (Read more.)
It is interesting speculation because there have been prophecies about the Pope fleeing Rome. According to Unveiling the Apocalypse:
Pope St. Pius X (1903-14): “Will I be the one, or will it be a successor? What is certain is that the Pope will leave Rome and, in leaving the Vatican, he will have to pass over the dead bodies of his priests!”(Before his death) “I have seen one of my successors, of the same name, who was fleeing over the bodies of his brethren. He will take refuge in some hiding place; but after a brief respite, he will die a cruel death. Respect for God has disappeared from human hearts. They wish to efface even Gods memory. This perversity is nothing less than the beginning of the last days of the world.” (Read more.)
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The Twins of Auschwitz

From the BBC:
Vera Kriegel and her twin sister Olga were just five years old when they were taken from their village in Czechoslovakia to Auschwitz. Transported in cattle cars which were so tightly packed that the dead were still standing, she recalls the "sheer terror" of arriving at the camp and treading on "dead people like steps" as she left the train.

New arrivals at the camp were sorted into the weak, who would be gassed straight away, and the strong, who would be made to work. But Mengele and his assistants were there too, looking for twins. Vera, her sister, and her mother were taken straight to SS Captain Josef Mengele. He was intrigued, she says, by what he described as her mother's "perfect Aryan features" and blue eyes, while Vera's and her sister's were brown.

Mengele selected them for experimentation.

Another woman who remembers her arrival at the camp is Jona Laks, who was taken as a teenager from the Lodz ghetto. She was not immediately recognised as a twin and was initially sent off in the direction of the gas chamber - when her sister told Mengele they were twins he had her brought to his laboratory.

Josef Mengele was an assistant to a well-known researcher who studied twins at the Institute for Heredity Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt - he started working at Auschwitz in May 1943.

There he had an unlimited supply of twins to study, and he wouldn't get in trouble if they died. According to Prof Paul Weindling of Oxford Brookes University, author of Victims and Survivors of Nazi Human Experiments, hundreds of children were used in Mengele's experiments.

"I found a record of a prisoner doctor and bacteriologist who was forced to work for Mengele that there were 732 pairs of twins," he says, and suggests the doctor was interested in genetics. "I think Mengele might have been interested in the inheritance of the propensity to having twins."

He believes many of the twins survived Auschwitz, although he thinks Roma twins were almost certainly killed. (Read more.)
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

An Altar in Tobolsk

Via Tiny-Librarian. "The Christmas altar of the Imperial Family in Tobolsk, 1917." Share

Mystery of the Newport Tower

Via Joshua Snyder:
The mystery of the Newport Tower may have been solved — Ancient Lime Kiln found at Newport, RI. From the article:Extensive Internet research regarding lime kilns, masonry styles, and arches in Colonial America and Medieval Europe confirms the probable time of construction for the Old Stone Tower as being the late 14th century. The masons were most-likely Norman-Scottish – that is, they were trained in masonry traditions of Northern Scotland (which at the time was still regarded as a Nordic Province). Between 1365 and 1410, agents of Denmark and the Kalmar Union were involved in the resettlement of refugees from the Eastern Settlement of Greenland. The Settlement was a Western Province of Norway (and hence also of the Kalmar Union that consisted of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Western Province of Landanu – that is, the “New Land”). (Read more.)
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Death by Quill

Author Beth von Staats writes on the parliamentary Act of Attainder. To quote:
Common Law in medieval and early modern English and Welsh history could be quite a convenient tool for monarchs and their supporting ministers. With the stroke of the quill onto parchment and Parliamentary approval, not only could the riches and properties of "treasonous" nobility be easily converted to the crown, but most prominently during the reign of King Henry VIII, an attainder could also arrange for swift judicial murder.

Just how did this work? The Act of Attainder was a handy procedure of Parliamentary Law that swiftly enabled Parliament to pass judicial sentence upon an accused person, whether justified or not irrelevant, as if it was a court of law. The concept when actualized enabled Parliament to act as judge and jury, with the Act of Attainder submitted for review replacing a judicial verdict. Thus, the accused was condemned by statute rather than judged by a jury of peers. Literally speaking, the condemned was determined by legislative action to have "tainted blood" that needed to be "destroyed".

Think about that for a moment. With ink and quill a minister acting on behalf of a monarch could propose a law and demonstrate that an individual violated the said law, thus punishment levied -- often retroactively. The minister could bi-pass the potential of subject revolt based on questionable actions, a clever individual demonstrating his innocence, and the risk of trial and judgment by peers. An attainder could even be brought for Parliamentary consideration after an offender's death in battle or revolt. Nifty, eh? What a convenient stroke of genius!

Although the use of Acts of Attainder began in the 14th century, first to depose the DeSpensers, allies and favorites of King Edward II, they were initially limited to garnishing the riches and lands of men who rivaled the security of the monarch or who were defeated in battle. During King Henry VIII's reign, however, the Act of Attainder became a far more ominous tool, as for many unfortunate souls, it resulted in a death sentence, a convenient and expedient way to exact justice through judicial murder. In all cases, whether execution was exacted or not, the condemned lost nobility status if applicable with all property reverted to the crown, obviously leaving the condemned, family and heirs destitute.

Let's now look at some of the famous and infamous who became victims of 16th century Parliamentary Acts of Attainder...(Read more.)
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Geography of the House

Mimi Thorisson, author of A Kitchen in France, shares the story of her family's new house, as well as some wonderful recipes. To quote:
Our new house has had many lives, it used to be a wine-making château and then later a hotel & restaurant. When we bought it the previous owner left us quite a bit of beautiful furniture that we’ve been cleaning and restoring but since it’s a big house we needed many more pieces. After spending a few afternoons in my new kitchen earlier this winter (before we moved in) I started thinking about a perfect table for the room. I found some photos that looked like what I wanted, a sturdy oak table with drawers for cutlery and Oddur and I searched for something similar around the local antique stores. One day he was driving past a little shop, popped in, liked what he saw and after I had approved by sms (technology can be so useful) he brought home exactly the table I wanted. Now this isn’t really that interesting, people find tables every day, but wait, there’s more. A few days after, the previous owner, Monsieur Ladra, stopped by to give us some guidance regarding the plumbing (a labyrinth comes to mind) and when he entered the kitchen his jaw dropped to the floor. “Where did you find that table he said, his voice almost shaking”. It had been in our house for over 80 years before he sold it to and antiques dealer some months before we bought the house and now the table had found its way home. It may just be a simple little coincidence but typing this gives me goosebumps. (Read more.)
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800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta

From the BBC:
Magna Carta outlined basic rights with the principle that no-one was above the law, including the king
  • It charted the right to a fair trial, and limits on taxation without representation
  • It inspired a number of other documents, including the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Only three clauses are still valid - the one guaranteeing the liberties of the English Church; the clause confirming the privileges of the City of London and other towns; and the clause that states that no free man shall be imprisoned without the lawful judgement of his equals
(Read more.)
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How to Draw Out an Extrovert

From Verily:
Opposites attract, right? While that may be true in magnetics, when it comes to the finer points of friendship, mixing introverts and not-so-introverts can be harder than it looks.
This is especially true for extroverts looking to be there for an introvert friend. If you’re of the extroverted variety, a simple “how was your day?” might launch a 30-minute blow-by-blow of insanity. Your introverted friend, however, may be more inclined to just say, “good.” We may think that they don’t have much to say since we gave them a chance, but really, introverts need to be drawn out by further probing and gentle encouragement.

Your extroverted ways don’t mean you’re incapable of having good introvert friends. Jennifer B. Kahnweiler Ph.D., author of Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference, explains that, contrary to popular belief, “Extroverts can be incredible listeners, because they draw people out by their open-ended questions and paraphrasing. Extroverts are able to develop rapport with others and know how to make people comfortable.”

So really, you’re a natural! But you do need a different strategy than “treat others as you want to be treated.” Introverts require a different script. So if you’re grabbing your favorite introverted friend for drinks tonight and are hoping to get her out of her shell, here are six tips to help you do just that. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Louis XV as Dauphin

From Tiny-Librarian. It is said that Marie-Antoinette's second son, Louis XVII, resembled his great-grandfather.

Louis XVII

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Why Does God Alllow Suffering?

From author Karl Erickson:
Are all types of pain and suffering, then, because of the Fall of Man? The simple answer is Yes. The choice of Adam and Eve, already created in the image of God, to disobey their Creator in a tragically misguided attempt to be "like God," led to evil being allowed to enter the world, permanently changing every facet and dimension of our lives. With the barrier of sin now present between us and our Heavenly Father, however, God never gave up on mankind, but He continually sought to give us the means to seek and receive redemption and freedom from the sin. While the sin weakens us, the suffering may build spiritual strength and endurance.

The simple answer to Why does God allow suffering? is really impossible until we first have a solid understanding of the nature of sin and evil. Once that is understood, we can say that suffering allows us to become the people God created us to be, refined by fire as it were. As previously mentioned, God allows our broken world to run its course. When my grandmother lay dying in a coma some years ago in a small hospital room overlooking the brilliant fall tapestry of the Yakima Valley below, I remarked to my grandfather "that it wasn't ever supposed to be this way." By that statement, I was trying to say that God had other plans for us--even though his omniscient nature was fully aware that we would fail. If there was no free will, we could not truly say that we could independently love God; we would be automatons, machines. Likewise, suffering may also be tied to this free will. We are held accountable for our bad choices and decisions--sin being the worst.

Along our journey, it’s important to remember that every person we meet within our hectic daily schedules is someone for whom Christ’s blood was spilled, and, therefore, a fellow member or potential member, of the Body of Christ. As C.S. Lewis reminds us in The Weight of Glory, there aren’t “ordinary people.” We all have everlasting souls. 

We are familiar perhaps with the idea of redemptive suffering, offering our pains and struggles up to God. If we can apply this kind of internal reverence to our daily lives, we are offering these routine activities up to Christ. In this way, we are also acknowledging that we our identity is greater than what our daily life may trick us to believe. That is, our identity should not necessarily be tied so closely to our work or vocation. We are more than what we do from 8-5; our jobs should not define us. When we understand this, we are transforming the mundane to the eternal as we strive to live Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 10:31: “whatever you do, do for the glory of God.” (Read more.)
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