Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Madame Dugazon

The singer who sang the lead at Marie-Antoinette's last opera, as mentioned in my new book. Via Vive la Reine. More about her HERE. Share

Our Double Lives

From the New York Post:
There are 80 million photos posted in Instagram a day. Facebook has 1.49 billion active users per month. Twitter has 316 million active accounts; Tumblr 230 million. Pinterest has 47.66 million unique visitors from the US alone and is the fastest-growing independent site in history. Increasingly, most of us are living two lives: one online, one off. And studies show that this makes us more vulnerable to depression, loneliness and low self-worth. In 2013, scientists at two German universities monitored 584 Facebook users and found one out of three would feel worse after checking what their friends were up to — especially if those friends had just posted vacation photos. Even smaller details had the same effect. “Overall,” wrote the study’s authors, “shared content does not have to be ‘explicitly boastful’ for feelings of envy to emerge. In fact, a lonely user might envy numerous birthday wishes his more sociable peer receives on his Facebook wall. Equally, a friend’s change in the relationship status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ might cause emotional havoc for someone undergoing a breakup.” (Read more.)

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

From Help Guide:
Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Sure, exercise can improve your physical health and your physique, trim your waistline, improve your sex life, and even add years to your life. But that’s not what motivates most people to stay active. People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.

Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing. Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression. (Read more.)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Cape May

A few weeks ago a dear friend and I traveled by ferry to Cape May, New Jersey where we spent a lovely few days. We stayed at a bed and breakfast called Angel of the Sea which served a lovely high tea every afternoon, and wine and cheese in the evenings. The big porches were perfect for long conversations while watching the ocean. And downtown, there was a beautiful church, Our Lady, Star of the Sea.



From Chronicles:
Should one of its most prosperous members vote to leave this Union, many other members will ask what a French friend recently asked me when I posed the possibility of Brexit: “Pourquoi pas nous?” Even more interesting, again, for those paying attention, is that visa-free travel is being extended to Turkey on June 1, just one week from now. Surely the significance of legally opening the doors to the descendants of those who besieged Europe for centuries is lost on a populace that seems not to know that Britain existed (and even prospered) before the drafting of the constitution of the European Union.

Brexit would allow the EU to take a hard look at their emulate-the-USA project. They could ward off the rise of right-wing parties everywhere in Europe (gasp!), which saw its most recent surge in yesterday’s near-election of Norbert Hofer in Austria. It might allow the EU to realize that the road to peace and prosperity doesn’t run through Brussels (as if Brussels can even keep itself safe), and doesn’t operate in a secularist vacuum that pretends that history, money, and religion have no previous lessons to teach us. In restoring subsidiarity to Europe by allowing free and uncoerced cooperation in areas like currency and immigration, free from ideologically-driven treaties, the EU could regain safety for the long term, a safety which is currently only preserved in the most fragile and temporary way.

And yet most cannot help but think that the epiphany of Brexit might cause a Macbethian reaction among the EU elites, who have not been above removing democratically elected leaders in Greece: already halfway through a river of misery, it would be just as far to the other side of “ever closer union” as to turn back to the original point of departure, the 1951 “European Coal and Steel Community.” Furthermore, that further bank would now be more easily reached without Britain on its back, the Britain that Churchill always claimed was “with Europe, but not of it, linked, but not combined . . . interested and associated but not absorbed. (Read more.)

Feminism and the War on Masculinity

From The Maccabee Society:
After the onslaught of multiple feminist movements, the sexual revolution of 60s onward, and the gender bending movements of today, men find themselves in an oddly precarious position in society. Not only have these trends undermined men’s role as protector and provider; they have demonized manhood itself and hope to force a revolution in thinking. First, feminists simply requested equal political status with men through voting, then equal economic status through employment, then equal sexual status through contraception and abortion. Now, radical feminists and the LGBT community hope to erase divisions of sex altogether and demand equal natures, either through mass indoctrination (political correctness and “gender acceptance”) or subsidized sex-change operations.

Instead of addressing this reality by reconsidering their rejection of traditional roles, feminists today now demand that men change their very natures. This comes as a result of feminism’s past successes: the workplace has become feminized; the Church has become feminized; politics has become feminized; art and literature have become feminized; and morality and education have become feminized. Unfortunately, rather than having the intended effect of making women happier (which it hasn’t), this has only made men sadder.

Boys today grow up in a confusing world that has marginalized them completely. Often fatherless, they grow up with no actual role models except perhaps superheroes and hip hop performers. Their education only reinforces this denial of masculinity. Rather than reading about courageous virtuous men, they now read revised histories characterizing great men as cruel sexist pigs; rather than reading exciting stories about men going on adventures, they read boring stories about young women of color overcoming adversity; instead of seeing intellectual pursuits as a desirable component to a complete life for men, they only see sports as the only outlet for their manhood. Not surprisingly, many will end their education at high school at a loss with what to do with themselves while the girls go on to college, wondering where all the boys went. (Read more.)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Gluck's Revolution

From The Seattle Times:
In May of 1774, 15 years before the French Revolution, the 18-year-old Marie Antoinette ascended the throne as queen of France. Less than a month before that, German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck, her former music teacher — and the son of a gamekeeper — made his debut in Paris with his opera “Iphigénie en Aulide.”

Thanks to Gluck’s tutelage, the new queen had become a passionate musician (she was known for her love of playing the harp), and her patronage ensured the composer access to the influential Parisian opera scene, for which he wrote his final sequence of stage works.

Gluck had started fomenting a revolution of his own with “Orfeo ed Euridice,” which premiered in 1762 in Vienna, Marie Antoinette’s native city. In August 1774, soon after “Iphigénie en Aulide,” he unveiled a substantially revised, expanded version of “Orfeo.” Now titled “Orphée et Eurydice,” it incorporated French musical practice of the time — by recasting Orpheus, for example, from a castrato to a high tenor role. (Read more.)

Secular War on the Supernatural

From Roman Catholic Man:
The supernatural is the greatest gift that God has given us. We are humble, modest creatures. The human male was made from the dust of the earth, a very un-aristocratic origin; the human female did a little bit better and was taken from the body of a human person. (This is one of the big triumphs that women have, one of the advantages that they have over men!) The supernatural is a partaking in God’s very life. There is not one single religion that can compete with Christianity, a religion allowing us to become God-like by participation in His life.

The supernatural is something that could never have been invented by the most inventive human person. The supernatural is a new song, a new music coming from above that never entered man’s head. In some way you can prove the Divinity of Christ by saying no human being would ever have invented a God who chose to take the form of a slave, to suffer and to die, to re-open for us the gates of Heaven, Humanly speaking, it is sheer madness.

It was the supernatural which converted Edith Stein, who studied under Husserl with my husband. She was an atheist who one very fine day read the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila. She started at seven in the evening and the next morning at seven o’clock she said “I’m going to become a Roman Catholic” and she became a Roman Catholic saint (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross). (Read more.)


From Intellectual Takeout:
"American businesses typically want someone else … to train their future employees," writes Peter Downs. Such is not the case in European nations, who are once again discovering the age old tradition of providing hands-on training to produce a well-trained and capable workforce.
In Switzerland, 70% of young people age 15-19 apprentice in hundreds of occupations, including baking, banking, health care, retail trade and clerical careers. In Germany, 65% of youth are in apprenticeships; in Austria 55%. All three countries have youth unemployment rates less than half of America's 16%. Last year, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, the Slovak Republic and Spain all asked Germany to help them set up similar systems.
The fact that the U.S. has ignored this trend, and actually has declining apprenticeship rates, may stem from a stigma that apprenticeship is for the "dumb kids" who can't get grades good enough to go to college. (Read more.)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hardman's New Biography of Louis XVI

From Munro Price at the Literary Review:
Bringing to life such an enigmatic and elusive character is a formidable task. John Hardman accomplishes this with immense subtlety and skill. He has already written one excellent biography of Louis, which appeared on the bicentenary of the king’s death in 1993. His latest, however, is greatly expanded: broader in scope and considerably more detailed. There are two reasons for this. The first is that, finally, some of the papers examined by Soulavie have resurfaced – 171 of Louis’s letters to his long-serving foreign minister Vergennes, which at a stroke quadruple the existing number. These were published in 1998. The second is that, after a long period of neglect, historians have returned to the field of 18th-century French politics and some important new works have appeared. The materials are now in place for a fuller portrait of Louis XVI than at any previous time.

As a result, Hardman is able to dispel many of the myths that have gathered about the king since his death. Contrary to what hostile contemporaries, echoed by many historians, claimed, Louis was very far from stupid or lazy. He was gifted at mathematics and geography, and fascinated by the sea – his reign saw a remarkable rebuilding of the French navy. He also spoke Latin, Italian and, surprisingly, English, the language of France’s hereditary enemy. Throughout his life he was alternately fascinated and repelled by Britain’s political system and commercial power. He is probably the only French ruler to have had a subscription to The Spectator. Louis’s flaw was not stupidity but sometimes paralysing indecision, a product of heredity, early bereavements and the stultifying ritual of Versailles. Its effects were memorably summarised by his younger brother, the future Louis XVIII: ‘Imagine a set of oiled billiard-balls that you vainly try to hold together.’

This indecision, however, was much less apparent before than after 1789. Indeed, the greatest importance of the newly available letters to Vergennes is in showing how effective Louis could be, particularly in foreign policy, the traditional business of kingship, when seconded by a minister he trusted. This is clearest in Louis’s most crucial decision before the Revolution, to intervene on the side of the Americans in their struggle against Britain. This had enormous consequences: it brought the United States into being but saddled France with a war debt that four years later pitched the monarchy into terminal financial crisis. Louis later claimed that he regretted the decision. In the course of eighty fascinating pages that shed much new light on this turning point in the American War of Independence, Hardman shows that ultimate responsibility was the king’s. (Read more.)


Enjoying Rhubarb

From Produce Made Simple:
Fluffy meringue is nestled on top of a tangy rhubarb custard filling, and a rich shortbread crust, in these individual rhubarb tortes. Serving stewed rhubarb with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a sprinkling of granola, has all the yummy flavours of a crisp without the work! Make up a batch of this rhubarb shrub and enjoy it with a splash of sparkling water for a fresh springtime drink. (Read more.)

A Sense of the Sacred

From Roman Catholic Man:
Therefore, if we are truly serious about evangelization, our attention must be placed on restoring what the Catholic Church once, so beautifully possessed: sacred art, sacred architecture, sacred music and special attention to the sacred offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Everything else is just “spinning our wheels,” until we give this the primary attention it requires.

Pope Benedict XVI famously stated, “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy.” Building on this, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf speaks often about, “Save the Liturgy, Save the World.” Nothing could be more true, when we consider the fact that the world needs saints, ignited by supernatural grace. And, that it is reverent and sacred Masses that assist the faithful in receiving this first and essential “trigger gift” of the Holy Spirit: The Gift of Awe and Wonder.

Therefore, we must discern, together, how to “save the liturgy.” What does that look like? While I have my own opinions about this restoration, I do not pretend to be among the experts. I will leave those decisions to them. All I know is that I believe something drastic must be done to restore the Catholic Church’s once great aptitude for bringing souls to that first Gift of Awe and Wonder. (Read more.)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Beauty and Flowers

From All Things Georgian:
We have taken a look at cosmetics previously in a series of blogs, but we couldn’t resist sharing some of these beauty recipes with you that we came across in ‘The Toilet of Flora’, although its title is not strictly accurate, as it contains far more than just flora. A beauty regime was just as important in the 18th century as it is today, so we’ll start at the head and work downwards, although we’re not quite sure if the first two were meant specifically for women or not, although arguably they would work for either sex. (Read more.)

The Herbal in England

From Margaret Porter:
When foul weather or other matters keep the gardener from tending or admiring the garden, the next best occupation is reading about garden plants. For many centuries, plantsmen with a cataloguing mindset have produced lists, descriptions, guides, and advice. The growth of printing expanded knowledge about plants and their various uses and merits, disseminating information beyond the most learned classes to anyone who happened to be literate.

During the Middle Ages in England, religious communities compiled the sort of lists we know as herbals, detailing their medicinal uses. The composition of plants and the beauty of flowers was recorded in florilegia, books containing floral artwork. With the rise of printed books in the Renaissance period, with improvements in the printing process, metal engraving, and the skills of colourists, this category of literature and plant lore increased in availability and popularity.
(Read more.)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Duchesse de Berry in a Blue Velvet Dress

Caroline of Naples, great-niece of Marie-Antoinette, in 1824. Portrait by Madame Lebrun. Share

The Cost of Amnesty

This article is a few years old; no doubt the numbers have increased. To quote:
Unlawful immigration and amnesty for current unlawful immigrants can pose large fiscal costs for U.S. taxpayers. Government provides four types of benefits and services that are relevant to this issue:
  • Direct benefits. These include Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.
  • Means-tested welfare benefits. There are over 80 of these programs which, at a cost of nearly $900 billion per year, provide cash, food, housing, medical, and other services to roughly 100 million low-income Americans. Major programs include Medicaid, food stamps, the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit, public housing, Supplemental Security Income, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
  • Public education. At a cost of $12,300 per pupil per year, these services are largely free or heavily subsidized for low-income parents.
  • Population-based services. Police, fire, highways, parks, and similar services, as the National Academy of Sciences determined in its study of the fiscal costs of immigration, generally have to expand as new immigrants enter a community; someone has to bear the cost of that expansion.
(Read more.)

In Defense of Elitism

From Roger Scruton:
There is a very famous phrase, “the tyranny of the majority,” that was introduced into political discourse by two near contemporaries in the nineteenth century. Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous French writer who wrote Democracy in America, travelled around this country trying to understand how it is that people can survive without an aristocracy. He was amazed to discover that they did, he being a member of the aristocracy. And while he thought that human life could change in a democratic direction, he discerned a permanent danger, which he described in these terms: the tyranny of the majority—that is to say, the danger that every public decision will be taken by the majority for the majority and disregard both the rights of minorities and the possibility of disagreement. He discovered that in America this tyranny of the majority had not emerged. So he asked the question, why? (Read more.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Celebrating Christian Dior

From Harper's Bazaar: "To fête Christian Dior's birthday today, we're taking a look back at the way the designer transformed the fashion scene post-World War II, all thanks to his iconic New Look in 1947." Share

To the Catholic Left

From The Liturgy Guy:
As one of the many cassock-wearing, Communion-on-the-tongue-receiving, Latin-loving, Extraordinary-Form-Mass-saying young priests that have passed through the halls of Theological College, allow me to say plainly to anyone who would agree with the tone and sentiment of this article that you have deliberately and painfully pigeon-holed men who love the Church and cast us to be pompous little monsters simply because we have a different theological/liturgical outlook than you.

You condescend towards us as if we were not thinking, opining, and sincere men.

You gossip about us, ensuring that we are “put in our places” and “taught a thing or two” by your confreres.

You confuse our strong convictions with arrogance and accuse us of being staunch when we are trying more than anything else to be faithful, helpful, and loving.

But let’s be quite honest…you don’t really know us because you never took the time to get to know us. You saw us when we were in the seminary chapel or over breakfast…but that’s about it. Have you seen us at 2:00 AM in the hospital? Have you seen us working late into the night on a funeral homily? Have you seen us giving up our one day off a week to visit with a lonely elderly parishioner? Have you seen us on our knees at night before the tabernacle weeping because we just buried a child earlier that day?nHave you seen us celebrate four Masses on a weekend, hear hours of confessions, and still show up to Sunday evening Youth Ministry? Have you seen us wear the same pair of socks two days in a row because we simply ran out of time to do laundry? Have you seen us muster a smile even when we’re exhausted, or miss Christmas with our families because we’re assigned 300 miles away, or forget to eat dinner because there’s another meeting to go to?

The answer is no. What you see are the cassocks and birettas and fiddleback chasubles and accuse us of being “out of touch.” Well the reality is, you are guilty of the very thing you accuse us of. You ignore our humanity, our struggle, our sincerity, and you fixate on external things to make your judgments. (Read more.)

Jane Austen and Modesty

From the Circe Institute:
I have observed a tendency among some Christians to equate “Christian” and “biblical” with “old-fashioned.” I once attended a very conservative Christian conference that had such an extreme view of modesty that many young women dressed like characters in a Jane Austen novel. In their homemade empire-waist Regency dresses, they were all quite modestly attired by today's standards. But the irony was not lost on me:  to the young men of the Regency period, those dresses were hardly quaint and certainly not without the ability to inspire desire and lust.

Because while principles of modesty may be unchanging, practically speaking, what behavior and attire titillate is quite culturally relative. Compared to the stiff, structured dresses of the previous generation, the free-flowing dresses of the Regency period were alluring because they clung to a woman’s form. When a woman moved in one of those dresses, there was much to attract the eye of a man. In fact, women of this period dampened their dresses before a night out so that their clothes clung to their forms even more alluringly. That’s right. Those prim and proper heroines of the Austen era were just as capable of pushing the limits of modesty as any modern girl.

But there has never been a time when women did not want to attract the attention of men. And there has never been a time when there wasn’t conversation about where the line of propriety lies. There was no golden age of history when everyone agreed on what constituted appropriate, modest behavior and dress. Even an old fashioned dress can be alluring and inspire lust in the right circumstances.
Modesty is an issue of the heart, which is not to say that it is not also an issue of the eyes, hips, and shoulders. But if we fail to get to the heart of the matter, we will forever be arguing with Scarlet O’Hara about the appropriate placement of sleeves before noon. And we will get nowhere. (Read more.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Peaceful Sojourns

A trip to Burgundy. From Victoria:
With its colorful, glazed-tile roof and Gothic facade a beacon of hope, the Hospices de Beaune was founded in the fifteenth century as a hospital for the destitute. Through the years, gifts from wealthier classes afforded expansion and an impressive art collection. The original structure, the Hôtel-Dieu, now functions as a museum.

Roses outside the café—the casual counterpoint to gastronomic La Table de Levernois—welcome patrons to the mansion’s eighteenth-century kitchen. (Read more.)


Gender Dysphoria

From The Public Discourse:
First, though, let us address the basic assumption of the contemporary parade: the idea that exchange of one’s sex is possible. It, like the storied Emperor, is starkly, nakedly false. Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they “identify.” In that lies their problematic future.

When “the tumult and shouting dies,” it proves not easy nor wise to live in a counterfeit sexual garb. The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people—extending over thirty years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered—documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to fifteen years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to twenty times that of comparable peers. (Read more.)

The Ethics of Escape

From Charles Coulombe:
The point to be made is that the "escape into fantasy" so often condemned by so-called "right-thinking people," is not without a real utility in solving problems in the here-and-now, especially the political here and now. Being devoted to the literature of escape does not preclude a deep and abiding interest in reality; quite the contrary. It allows one to meditate, as Huxley did with the ideals of Dr. Williams, on hypothetical questions in a constructive way. Not that fantasists are unanimous in their political or religious views---far from it. Yet they do have a commonality of perspective which transcends mere party labels---even as do the Technocrats. Tolkien was a Catholic, Royalist, Tory (as indeed, am I myself); but the chapter of The Return of the King called "The Scouring of the Shire" would be very pleasing indeed to any self-respecting Green or Anarchist. William Morris was considered a radical in his time, George Wyndham a reactionary; yet their taste in literature mirrored the fact that their politics contained a great deal of mutuality. Rudyard Kipling and Hilaire Belloc were in quite opposite camps when it came to the Empire---but as one when it came to England herself, as a comparison of the one's Puck of Pook's Hill with the other's Four Men will show clearly. Not for nothing did our old friend Herbert Spencer call the nascent Labour Party "the New Toryism," and would no doubt have made the same accusation against not just R. H. Tawney, but Tolkien and Henry Massingham as well. I have myself found much more in common in terms of basic values with other lovers of fantasy whose party labels are supposedly opposed to mine than either of us do with those who share those labels---but are committed believers in the truth of the gaol in which we live. (Read more.)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Princess Augusta of Bavaria, Duchess of Leuchtenberg

From Madame Gilflurt:
Augusta was born to Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt. She lost her mother when she was just eight years old and though Maximilian married Princess Caroline of Baden, it took some years for the young Augusta to get used to her stepmother. From the start, it was intended that she would make a good dynastic match. Initially the young woman was promised to Charles, heir to the Grand Dukedom of Baden and brother of her stepmother. However, Napoleon had other ideas and prevailed upon Maximilian to offer his daughter as a bride for Eugène. (Read more.)

Economic Nationalism

From Chronicles:
Even in recent crises, Republican presidents have gone back to the economic nationalism of their Grand Old Party. With the Brits coming for our gold and Japanese imports piling up, President Nixon in 1971 closed the gold window and imposed a 10 percent tariff on Japanese goods.

Ronald Reagan slapped a 50 percent tariff on Japanese motorcycles being dumped here to kill Harley-Davidson, then put quotas on Japanese auto imports, and on steel and machine tools. Reagan was a conservative of the heart. Though a free trader, he always put America first. What, then, does history teach?

The economic nationalism and protectionism of Hamilton, Madison, Jackson, and Henry Clay, and the Party of Lincoln, McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, and Coolidge, of all four presidents on Mount Rushmore, made America the greatest and most self-sufficient republic in history.

And the free-trade, one-worldism of Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama enabled Communist China to shoulder us aside us and become the world's No. 1 manufacturing power.

Like Britain, after free-trade was adopted in the mid-19th century, when scribblers like David Ricardo, James Mill and John Stuart Mill, and evangelists like Richard Cobden dazzled political elites with their visions of the future, America has been in a long steady decline.

If we look more and more like the British Empire in its twilight years, it is because we were converted to the same free-trade faith that was dismissed as utopian folly by the men who made America.

Where in the history of great nations—Britain before 1850, the USA, Bismarck's Germany, postwar Japan and China today—has nationalism not been the determinant factor in economic policy? Speaker Ryan should read more history and less Ayn Rand. (Read more.)

Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

From Church Militant:
Nothing happens in the the universe without God willing and allowing it. This statement must be taken absolutely of everything with the exception of sin. "Nothing occurs by chance in the whole course of our lives" is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, "and God intervenes everywhere."

"I am the Lord," He tells us Himself by the mouth of the prophet Isaias, "and there is none else. I form light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these things" (Is. 45:6–7). "It is I who bring both death and life, I who inflict wounds and heal them," He said to Moses (Deut. 32:39). "The Lord killeth and maketh alive," it is written in the Canticle of Anna, the mother of Samuel, "He bringeth down to the tomb and He bringeth back again; the Lord maketh poor and maketh rich, he humbleth and he exalteth" (1 Kings 2:6–7). "Shall there be evil (disaster, affliction) in a city which the Lord hath not done?" asks the prophet Amos (Amos  3:6). "Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches are from Go," Solomon proclaims (Ecclus. 11:14). And so on in numerous other passages of Scripture.

Perhaps you will say that while this is true of certain necessary effects, like sickness, death, cold and heat, and other accidents due to natural causes which have no liberty of action, the same cannot be said in the case of things that result from the free will of man. For if, you will object, someone slanders me, robs me, strikes me, persecutes me, how can I attribute his conduct to the will of God, Who far from wishing me to be treated in such a manner, expressly forbids it? So the blame, you will conclude, can only be laid on the will of man, on his ignorance or malice. This is the defense behind which we try to shelter from God and excuse our lack of courage and submission.

It is quite useless for us to try and take advantage of this way of reasoning as an excuse for not surrendering to Providence. God Himself has refuted it, and we must believe on His word that in events of this kind as in all others, nothing occurs except by His order and permission. (Read more.)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Untoward Circumstances"

From Jane Austen's Microcosm:
Miss Bates is one of my favourite Austen characters. Mr Knightley insightfully realises she is not as silly as she is made out to be. She does go on a bit about trivial matters, but the intelligence she provides helps us get a better picture of everyday life in Highbury – what can be more delightful than her ‘harmless gossip’? The seemingly inconsequential flow of important and mundane information found in Jane Austen’s letters often reminds us of her. Yet Cassandra must have relished every detail, and fans as well as scholars joyfully strive to make sense of it all. And, unlike so many foolish people, Miss Bates knows she is not clever: ‘I shall be sure to say three dull things as soon as ever I open my mouth, shan’t I?’ (Read more.)

Recent Broadcasts about Marie-Antoinette on #BlogTalkRadio

Here are the two recent Tea at Trianon Radio broadcasts. In the first program I discuss the sources for my new book, Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars, HERE. In the second program I talk a little about Marie-Antoinette's family, as well as how to deal with trolls on the internet, especially anti-Antoinette trolls, HERE. Share

Managing Your Emotions

From Harvard Medical School:
There are two kinds of stress that impact your brain. Helpful stress (also known as eustress) can assist you with getting things done by helping you focus your attention. Unhelpful stress (distress), on the other hand, can be so severe that it can lead to fatigue and heart disease.

If you have coronary artery disease (CAD), your heart may be deprived of oxygen. This deprivation, called myocardial ischemia, can occur in as many as 30% to 50% of all patients with CAD. It can be further exacerbated by emotional stress. In fact, if you have any type of heart disease, any strong emotion such as anger may also cause severe and fatal irregular heart rhythms. Expressions like “died from fright” and “worried to death” are not just hyperbole — they are physiologic possibilities. Furthermore, when patients with newly diagnosed heart disease become depressed, that depression increases the risk that a harmful heart-related event will occur within that year. (Read more.)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Marie-Antoinette's Beauty Regimen

From Mental Floss:
The Queen of France began her beauty routine with a special facial cleanser called Eau Cosmetique de Pigeon (yes, it was made from pigeons). According to The Toilette Of Health, Beauty, And Fashion, the cleanser was first used by Danish women and is made according to this recipe:
“Take juice of water-lilies, of melons, of cucumbers, of lemons, each one ounce; briony, wild succory, lily-flowers, borage, beans, of each a handful: eight pigeons stewed. Put the whole mixture into an alembic, adding four ounces of lump sugar, well pounded, one drachma of borax, the same quantity of camphor, the crumb of three French rolls, and a pint of white wine. When the whole has remained in digestion for seventeen or eighteen days, proceed to distillation, and you will obtain pigeon-water, which is such an improvement of the complexion.”
DIY skincare routines like this one were commonplace in 18th century France, because people believed they would help ward off illness. While regular full-body bathing was not the norm, facial cleansing was done more often, because products could be made from simple, household ingredients (and pigeons, of course). (Read more.)

Past Imperfect

From The Eclectic Reader:
After not hearing from each other for decades because of an embarrassing episode at a house party in Portugal, which we are kept in suspense about until the very end of the novel, and which really is not nearly as shocking as the build up leads the reader to believe that it will be,  Damian contacts the un-named narrator, who has had a moderately successful career as a novelist.  The narrator, "Fellowes," hates Damian but cannot resist going to see him.  "Fellowes" also cannot resist carrying out Damien's last request to find the mother of Damian's child and seeing that he or she inherits all of Damien's fabulous wealth.

The book goes back and forth between the present (the book was first published in 2008) and the late 1960s.  The book has all the inside scoop on the British upper classes that you would expect from the creator of Downton Abbey.  The novel chronicles one of the last debutante seasons in the late sixties when the parents of the aristocracy and the rich paraded their daughters from one dance and party to another to find an appropriate husband.

Just like in real life, what we want to become in our youth is rarely what really happens to us.  Past Imperfect is a well written and entertaining soap opera.  And it's educational.  You may learn how to dress for dinner if you're ever invited to an English country house or how to appropriately address the daughter of an Earl.  Five out of five. (Read more.)

Friday, May 20, 2016


From Geri Walton:
Schönbrunn was a wedding gift to Maria Theresa from her father, Charles VI, after her marriage in 1736. Over the years other rulers had added and modified the palace. When Maria Theresa decided to use it as a summer home, she found it dilapidated and in need of repairs. In addition, she remodeled it throughout the 1740s and 1750s. One person in the late 1800s described the palace as having “wings to the front and at end each of the main building…it is… whitish-yellow [in] color, and…too flat and squatty for good architecture.” However, it became one most popular country estate of the Habsburg’s under Maria Theresa’s reign.

Inside the Schönbrunn Palace, walls were adorned with wonderful paintings, murals, and medallions, and when the hunting lodge was converted into an imperial residence, its dining room was converted into what was called the Blue Staircase. Fortunately, when the staircase was added, the glorious ceiling—a fresco painted by the Italian artist Sebastiano Ricci in 1701-02—remained unaffected. 
Another room with unusual artwork is known today as the Breakfast Room. It has appliqued medallions completed by Maria Theresa’s mother, Elisabeth Christine. She created these medallions from fabric scraps, assembled them into floral bouquets, and sewed them onto silk moiré, complete with insects.(Read more.)

Of Gentlemen and the Gentry

From Random Bits of Fascination:
Social class was a huge factor in Regency era life. Birth played a huge factor in determining one's social standing. For some, especially the eldest son and heir, their standing was established with an inherited title and fortune.  For others, especially younger sons, inheritance of  land or fortune and occupation played a primary role. For most women, their place in society was determined by the status of the man they married.

Titled peers in all their various forms occupied the top of the social ladder. Immediately below them were the landed gentry. Though definitely part of the upper class, they were definitely lower ranked than the peers even though their income might exceed that of peers who might be saddled with debt or other financial difficulties.

Like the peers, the landed gentry was divided into various ranks, positioning some firmly above others. Within the landed gentry were:
  1. Baronet. A position created by King James in 1611, giving the person a hereditary title that passed to the eldest son, and the right to be addressed as "Sir."
  2. Knight. Originally a military honor, it was increasingly used as a reward for service to the Crown. This was not a hereditary title.
  3. Esquire/squire. Originally a title related to the battlefield, it included a squire or person aspiring to knighthood, an attendant on a knight. Later it was an honor that could be conferred by the Crown and included certain offices such as Justice of the Peace. A squire was often the principal landowner in a district.
  4. Gentlemen. This started as a separate title with the Statute of Additions of 1413. It is used generally for a man of high birth or rank, good social standing, and of wealth, especially the inherited kind.
(Read more.)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Origins of New York Fashion Week

From Mashable:
Paris, London, Milan, Berlin — Fashion Week is a central fixture in any major city of style, but the original was and is New York.
New York Fashion Week was born out of something like necessity during World War II, when journeying to Nazi-occupied Paris was an impossibility for the fashion world. These pictures show New York Fashion Week — then called "Press Week" — during the '50s, '60s and early '70s, several decades before the arrival of the iconographic white tents of Bryant Park and now Lincoln Center. (Read more.)

The Vatican Honors Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty

From Church Militant:
An Irish priest who dodged the Gestapo for more than two years during the Nazi occupation of Rome was commemorated by the Holy See and the Teutonic College in the Vatican last weekend, which honored the priest for saving thousands of Jewish and Allied soldiers' lives during the Second World War.
Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty was responsible for saving 6,500 Allied soldiers and Jews. His ability to evade the traps set by the German Gestapo and Secret Police by donning assorted disguises earned O'Flaherty the nickname "The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican."

"The Scarlet Pimpernel," a novel written in 1905, is a story set during the French Revolution that followed Sir Percy Blakeney, a.k.a. the Scarlet Pimpernel. Blakeney saved many aristocrats using different costumes and disguises, saving them from execution by guillotine at the hands of revolutionaries.

In the early years of World War II, Msgr. O'Flaherty toured many prisoner of war camps with the aim of finding soldiers who were reported missing. If he found missing soldiers at the camps, he would later reassure the concerned families through the use of Vatican Radio. (Read more.)

Boarding Schools and Social Climbing

From Naomi Clifford at Geri Walton's:
For centuries, genteel girls and those of the ‘middling sort’ were educated at home, usually by their mothers or governesses, but in the latter part of the 18th century and into the early 19th, the number of girls’ boarding school proliferated. Not only were they seized on by aspirational parents eager to enhance their daughters’ accomplishments but they were also offered a new opportunity to lone, or otherwise unsupported, educated women: a career and an income.

The reasons for the popularity of these private fee-paying schools with parents are much as they are now: standards and social aspiration. Their daughters could learn refined skills such as harp-playing or figure-dancing in an environment where they would brush shoulders with their social superiors. A boarding school education was an investment. It increased a girl’s value on the marriage market and, should the worst happen (that is, she did not marry or the family’s finances collapsed) at least she would be able to support herself. She would have acquired an education that would enable her to find work as a teacher.

Of course, there was a huge range in the quality and type of education on offer. In the middle of the 18th century, the basic curriculum might be reading and needlework, but by the early 19th century grammar and literature (English and French), history and geography were on the curriculum. Often specialist teachers were contracted in. It was not unknown to offer Italian, classical mythology, natural philosophy, or household skills such as pickling, preserving and pastry-making. The annual cost of a boarding school education would be in the region of 12 to 20 guineas but that could rise to 80 to 100 in London or Bath, with additional subjects charged separately. (Read more.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


From Nobility:
When the French monarch [Louis XVI] resolved to dispatch a military force to aid the American colonies in the Revolutionary War, Rochambeau was created a lieutenant-general and placed in command of a body of troops which numbered some 6000 men. It was the smallness of this force that made Rochambeau at first averse to taking part in the American War, but his sympathy with the colonial cause compelled him eventually to accept the command, and he arrived at Newport, Rhode Island July, 1780, and joined the American army under Washington, on the Hudson a few miles above the city of New York. Rochambeau performed the double duties of a diplomat and general in an alien army with rare distinction amidst somewhat trying circumstances, not the least of which being a somewhat unaccountable coolness between Washington and himself, which, fortunately, was of but passing import (see the correspondence and diary of Count Axel Fersen).(Read more.)

Quotes from Margaret Sanger

Total evil. From Life News:
Read on to learn why Planned Parenthood hides behind a false memory of Sanger, and why, despite her extraordinarily prolific writing career, one rarely sees her quoted by Planned Parenthood leaders and apologists.
The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.
Woman and the New Race, ch. 6: “The Wickedness of Creating Large Families.” Here, Sanger argues that, because the conditions of large families tend to involve poverty and illness, it is better for everyone involved if a child’s life is snuffed out before he or she has a chance to pose difficulties to its family.
[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.
Plan for Peace” from Birth Control Review (April 1932, pp. 107-108)
Click here to sign up for pro-life news alerts from LifeNews.com
Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies… and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.
Article 4. No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child, and no man shall have the right to become a father, without a permit…
Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth.
“America Needs a Code for Babies,” 27 Mar 1934
Give dysgenic groups [people with “bad genes”] in our population their choice of segregation or [compulsory] sterilization.
April 1932 Birth Control Review, pg. 108
Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.
(Read more.)

Commodore John Barry

From English Historical Authors:
Ireland of the mid 18th century smouldered with resentment against the ruling class and government, many of whom were descendants of the Cromwellian “settlement” of Ireland of the previous century. This and subsequent imposition of anti-Catholic Penal Laws of the early 18th century, meant that families like the Barrys were seriously disadvantaged in terms of civil rights, land ownership, access to education and many professions. The town of Wexford itself had recent bitter memories of Oliver Cromwell’s visitation to the area in 1649, when some 3,000 unarmed men, women and children had been slaughtered by Roundhead soldiers in the aftermath of the capture of the town in what was an extension of the English Civil War to Ireland. Before the end of the 18th century (during the United Irishmen’s rebellion of 1798), continuing resentment in the rural population would manifest itself in a bloody conflict which affected South-eastern Ireland more than any other part of Ireland, resulting in thousands of deaths among John Barry’s friends and neighbours in Wexford and its hinterland.

In 1761, aged 15, John left Ireland as a cabin-boy on a ship bound for Jamaica. One version of his life-story tells that his first landfall in North America was his arrival in Philadelphia as second mate on a trading ship sometime in 1762. Due to the city’s relatively liberal attitude towards Catholicism and the fact that it was the foremost maritime centre of the colony, John made Philadelphia his home. (Read more.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mimi Spinning

A self-portrait of the Archduchess Maria Christina, one of Marie-Antoinette's older sisters, with a small spinning wheel. Share

Christian Refugees Persecuted in Germany

From the Washington Times:
A nonprofit organization that has studied religious persecution around the globe for decades says Germany’s Christian refugees are under constant assault by their Muslim counterparts.
Open Doors, an organization that first started smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europe during the Cold War in 1955, conducted a survey that found 75 percent of Christian refugees in Germany claim to have been persecuted by fellow refugees and security staff.
Interviews conducted with 231 individuals over the past two months revealed the following:
  • 86 refugees claim to have suffered bodily harm due to their faith;
  • 96 refugees said they were the target of regular insults;
  • 73 refugees said they or family members faced death threats;
  • 80 percent of refugees pleaded for separate housing from Muslim counterparts; and
  • Physical attacks against Christians take the form of “punches, spitting, pushing and sexual abuse.”
“These figures are just the tip of the iceberg,” the report said. “Many Christian refugees are frightened of facing more difficulties if they report incidents. For instance, there is genuine fear that the information could get into the wrong hands and cause danger for relatives still living in their home countries.” (Read more.)

The Day They Killed Kennedy

Paul Craig Roberts on JFK:
Unlike most presidents, Kennedy was able to break with the conventional thinking of the time.From his experience with the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Joint Chiefs’ “Operation Northwoods,” Kennedy concluded that CIA Director Allen Dulles and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lemnitzer were both crazed by anti-communism and were a danger to Americans and the world.

Kennedy removed Dulles as CIA director, and he removed Lemnitzer as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, thus setting in motion his own assassination. The CIA, the Joint Chiefs, and the Secret Service concluded that JFK was “soft on communism.” So did the Bill Buckley conservatives.
JFK was assassinated because of anti-communist hysteria in the military and security agencies.The Warren Commission was well aware of this. The coverup was necessary because America was locked into a Cold War with the Soviet Union. To put US military, CIA, and Secret Service personnel on trial for murdering the President of the United States would have shaken the confidence of the American people in their own government. (Read more.)

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Iris: Fair Among the Fairest

From The Met at Pinterest:
In an episode from the Japanese literary classic "The Tales of Ise," a young aristocrat happens upon a place called Eight Bridges. Admiring the lush growth of irises, he composes a poem of five lines—each beginning with one syllable of the Japanese word for iris—that expresses his longing for a loved one left behind in the capital: "I have a beloved wife, / Familar as the skirt / Of a well-worn robe, / And so this distant journeying / Fills my heart with grief." (Read more.)


A Confession of Liberal Intolerance

From The New York Times:
To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.

The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose. Four studies found that the proportion of professors in the humanities who are Republicans ranges between 6 and 11 percent, and in the social sciences between 7 and 9 percent.

Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents). In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. So it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican. (Read more.)

The Danger of Prophecy

From Nancy Bilyeau:
Again and again, strange prophecies emerged in times of political distress in the Tudor era. After a young nobleman named Anthony Babington was arrested for a treasonous conspiracy to murder Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots, a book of Merlin prophecies was found in Babington's London home.

More than any other Tudor ruler since Henry VII, Elizabeth tried to harness prophecy, to understand it through her consultations with Dr. John Dee and his colleague, the bizarre necromancer Edward Kelley. She is the hard-headed queen, the ruler who said she had no desire for a "window into men's souls." However, she picked her coronation date based on what Dr. Dee told her to do.

It is with James VI that the brew of prophecy and the occult overflows. James was a Stuart king of Scotland, but part Tudor too, descended through both his parents--Mary Queen of Scots and Henry, Lord Darnley--from Margaret Tudor, the oldest daughter of Henry VII. 

Scotland was already a place uneasy with such fears before James VI was born. The Act of 1563 forbade anyone to use witchcraft, sorcery or necromancy or to claim any of its powers, the penalty for both witch and client being death.
(Read more.)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Charles Stuart, Prince of Wales

Charles II was the great grandson of Mary Queen of Scots, grandson of Henri IV of France, and first cousin of Louis XIV. From English Historical Fiction Authors:
Charles was the eldest son and heir of King Charles I of England and Queen Henrietta Maria (sister to Louis XIII of France). His grandfather, King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) united the crowns of Scotland and England upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Charles was born on May 29, 1630 in St. James’s Palace in London, and as the story goes, a bright star shone in the afternoon sky to mark his birth. Ironically, this star was Venus.

Charles took after his mother’s French heritage, with his dark looks. Henrietta Maria called him her ‘black boy', though not with affectionate fondness. Whereas most mothers are often blind to their children’s ‘imperfections’, Henrietta Maria was hypersensitive. Shortly after Charles’s birth, Henrietta wrote about her son to a former nanny, “he is so fat and so tall…I will send you his portrait as soon as he is a little fairer, for at present he is so dark I am ashamed of him.” Charles never became fair, but at 6’2” he fulfilled the promise of exceptional height. (Read more.)

The Thinking Man's Guide to Donald Trump

From The American Spectator:
1. Inspires and motivates others.
My favorite example is Jim Herman, who at 38 won his first PGA tournament on April 3, 2016. Herman tried for years to make the PGA but gave up on his dreams a decade ago, and settled in as an assistant pro at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“I got into a nice conversation with Donald, Mr. Trump, one day. He’s like, ‘Why are you folding shirts and giving lessons? Why aren’t you on the Tour? I’ve played with tour players, you’re good enough.’ I don’t know, maybe something like that gives you more confidence,” Herman told Simon Evans of Reuters after winning the Shell Houston Open.

2. Displays high integrity and honesty.
In business, your word is your bond. Fellow billionaires T. Boone Pickens, Conrad Black, and Carl Icahn vouch for him. Businessmen seldom give a liar a second chance. Trump is tough, but respected.

3. Solves problems and analyzes issues.
In the 1970s, developers gave up on most of Manhattan. Enter Trump. He bought the Commodore Hotel in the hope of restoring it to its former glory. That meant closing down the X-rated shops that infested its first floor. The city offered him tax abatements, but the banks were reluctant to finance his project. Trump, all of 34, figured out a way to make it work.

4. Drives for results.
The city of New York wasted six years and millions of dollars trying to renovate an ice rink at Central Park. Trump took the project over, and brought it in under budget and on schedule in six months. (Read more.)

English Law and Irish Hedgerow Schools

From Stephanie Mann:
Tom Jay writes for Crisis Magazine, summarizing the Penal Laws in Ireland:
The Anglo-Irish Parliament, controlled by England, passed a code of laws called “Laws in Ireland for the Suppression of Popery,” commonly known as the Penal Code. The Penal Laws struck deep into the political, economic, and religious life of Irish Catholics. The Code had three objectives: to deny the Irish any means of participating in civic life; to deny them access to education; and, to separate them from the land. Like the pernicious Apartheid laws of South Africa, the Penal Code was aimed specifically at a particular group: native Irish Catholics, three-fourths of the population of Ireland at that time.
The Penal Code included restrictions on education:
…no person of the popish religion shall publicly teach school or instruct youth, or in private houses teach youth, except only the children of the master or mistress of the private house, upon pain of twenty pounds, and prison for three months for every such offence. (7 Will III c.4 [1695])
Schoolmasters were now treated as criminals. To encourage the “Popish” schoolmaster’s neighbors to turn him in, a reward, extracted from those neighbors, would be given of
10 pounds for each popish schoolmaster, usher or assistant; said reward to be levied on the popish inhabitants of the county where found. (8 Ann c.3 [1709])
Any papist clergy or schoolmaster liable to transportation under these Acts shall within three months be transported to the common gaol of the next seaport town, to remain until transported. (8 Ann c.3 [1709])
Being “transported” had a very different meaning in the Penal Laws than it has in spiritual terms. It meant being shipped off to the West Indies. Any schoolmaster who tried to return to Ireland after being “transported” would be imprisoned indefinitely. Irish parents were also forbidden to send their child out of the country to be educated. This restriction was meant to deplete the number of priests in Ireland, who were generally educated in French seminaries. Irish Catholics were forbidden to teach Irish or Latin.(Read more.)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The French Alliance of 1778

From the York Daily Record:
The Treaty of Alliance with France, during the Revolutionary War, was both signed in France and ratified by the Continental Congress while York was the seat of government for the new nation. Without France’s significant military aid, provided by this treaty, it is doubtful that the Revolutionary War would have been won against Great Britain.

This 13-cent United States Postage Stamp commemorates French King Louis XVI handing the signed copy of the treaty to Benjamin Franklin. If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.

The Treaty of Alliance was signed in France on February 6, 1778, following many months of negotiations by American diplomats Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane and Arthur Lee. One of the keys to getting France to finally agree to a treaty was the colonists’ first major military victory in the defeat of British General Burgoyne’s army of 6,000 men at Saratoga, New York, on October 17, 1777. (Read more.)

Trump and the Supreme Court

From Life News:
When it comes to abortion, for pro-life voters there is no more important issue in the presidential election than who will control the appointment process for one or more Supreme Court judges who will determine the fate of abortion for decades. And on that point, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, told Bill O’Reilly he would name pro-life judges to the highest court. Asked what he would do to protect the “sanctity of human life,” Trump said it starts with the Supreme Court.

“I will protect it and the biggest way to protect it is through the Supreme Court and putting people in the court — and actually the biggest way to protect is electing me as president,” he said. Trump went on to say that he favored overturning Roe v. Wade and that, “I will appoint Supreme Court judges who will be pro-life.” His comments, along with hiring a pro-life advocate as his domestic policy director, will go along way to assuring pro-life voters they can consider him in November. (Read more.)

"The Dark Ages"

From Stephanie Mann:
The English Heritage Society referred to the period from 400 to 1066 A.D. as "the Dark Ages" at an exhibit at Tintagel Castle, and one of the writers at History Today doesn't like it:
The term ‘Dark Ages’ found a foothold in the 17th and 18th centuries, with historians like Edward Gibbon writing about the ‘darkness’ of the period, and reached its peak in the mid-19th century as, with a fervent belief in the dawn of a modern age, a growing Empire needed to build a dark past from which to emerge. The Dark Ages cling to Victorian ideals.

As a concept it is steeped in intellectual and cultural superiority used to dismiss the early Middle Ages as a period of ‘intellectual darkness’ before the Renaissance. In fact, we know far more about late Anglo-Saxon England than we do about Roman Britain.

The phrase feeds into a romanticised view of the period: lost to the mists of time, savage and lawless. But that could not be further from the truth. We might not have the overwhelming wealth of materials of later periods but enough survives to see the extent of their intellectual and cultural development. Pre-Conquest England was not without law, culture and politics.
Not to mention the anti-Catholic aspect of the nomenclature. (Read more.)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Our Lady's Flowers

From Return to Order:
However, other flower names have not survived to our times. The lily of the valley was called Our Lady’s Tears, since from afar the white flowers seemed like tear drops falling. The humble sweet violet used to be known as “Our Lady’s Modesty.” The enchanting forget-me-nots were reminders of the “Eyes of Mary.” Even the lowly dandelion with its bitter tasting greens came to be called “Mary’s Bitter Sorrow.” And the names go on and on, since nearly every familiar flower or herb known today had its equivalent Marian name. Some flowers gained their name because they bloomed close to feast days. The snowdrop, for example, was called “Candlemas Bells” since it often bloomed early on Candlemas – the feast of the Purification. The Assumption lily bloomed near the feast of the Assumption. It represented her immaculate purity, virginity and innocence that were rewarded by her assumption into heaven.
Of course, the rose came to symbolize Mary from the earliest times of the Church since it is a flower so rich in expression that it encompassed her purity, sorrow and glory. Numerous varieties of rose are associated with the Blessed Mother: the Rose of Sharon, Christmas Rose, or Scotch Rose. A collection of roses in a garden was called a rosarium. Later, a collection of Hail Mary prayers became known as a rosary. (Read more.)