Monday, October 31, 2016

An Irish Halloween


The picture above was painted by Irish artist Daniel Maclise in 1833, inspired by a typical Irish Halloween party. (Click on picture for details.) It was called "snap-apple night" and they did not wear costumes. Here is the caption which accompanied the painting:
There Peggy was dancing with Dan/While Maureen the lead was melting,/To prove how their fortunes ran/With the Cards ould Nancy dealt in;/There was Kate, and her sweet-heart Will,/In nuts their true-love burning,/And poor Norah, though smiling still/She'd missed the snap-apple turning.
For the ancient Celts, November 1 was Samhain, their New Year's day. It is not necessary to detail some of the more gruesome pagan customs which accompanied the festivities in pre-Christian times, customs which eventually disappeared as the Faith spread and took hold. Nevertheless, on a more positive note, the Celts believed that on the day in question the veil between the worlds grew thin, and one could easily pass from world to world, from time into eternity.

As Christians, in celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints, the sacred liturgy permits us to glimpse the place where the blessed ones dwell in light. We are led to think of all the dead, of the awe-inspiring realties of death, judgment, heaven and hell. On All Souls' Day we recall those who are still undergoing purgation in the realm beyond time. We, too, through the Mass and through prayer, pass from world to world, for all are present to God.

Here is an article (via A Conservative Blog for Peace) which elucidates on the history of All Hallows' Eve, the pagan versus Christian aspects and how the Irish, French, Germans, and English brought it all to North America. To quote:
Halloween can still serve the purpose of reminding us about Hell and how to avoid it. Halloween is also a day to prepare us to remember those who have gone before us in Faith, those already in Heaven and those still suffering in Purgatory. The next time someone claims Halloween is a cruel trick to lure our children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of Halloween and let them know about its Catholic roots and significance. (By Fr Scott Archer)
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The Cold Clinton Reality

Could we please have some voting based upon responsible citizenship and not upon emotions? From The Wall Street Journal:
Hillary and Bill Clinton are asking for a third term in the White House, and voters who want to know what this portends should examine the 12-page memo written by a Clinton insider that was hacked and published Wednesday by WikiLeaks. This is the cold, hard reality of the Clinton political-business model.

Longtime Clinton aide Doug Band wrote the memo in 2011 to justify himself to lawyers at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett who were reviewing his role and conducting a governance review of the Clinton Foundation at the insistence of Chelsea Clinton. In an email two weeks earlier, also published on WikiLeaks, Ms. Clinton said her father had been told that Mr. Band’s firm Teneo was “hustling” business at the Clinton Global Initiative, a regular gathering of the wealthy and powerful that is ostensibly about charitable activity.

Poor innocent Chelsea. Bill and Hillary must never have told her what business they’re in. If she had known, she would never have hired a blue-chip law firm to sweep through the hallways of the Clinton Foundation searching for conflicts of interest. Instead of questioning Mr. Band’s compensation, she would have pleaded with him never to reveal the particulars of his job in writing. But she didn’t, and so Mr. Band went ahead and described the “unorthodox nature” of his work while emphasizing his determination to help “protect the 501(c)3 status of the Foundation.” That’s the part of the tax code that has allowed the Clinton Foundation to remain tax-exempt on the premise that it is dedicated to serving humanity.

Mr. Band graciously copied John Podesta, then adviser to the board, who would eventually become Hillary’s campaign chief. His helpful reply was to suggest that Mr. Band “strip the defensive stuff out” and later “go through the details and how they have helped WJC” [ William Jefferson Clinton].
The Band memo reveals exactly what critics of the Clintons have long said: They make little distinction between the private and public aspects of their lives, between the pursuit of personal enrichment, the operation of a nonprofit, and participation in U.S. politics.

Mr. Band writes that he and his colleague Justin Cooper “have, for the past ten years, served as the primary contact and point of management for President Clinton’s activities—which span from political activity (e.g., campaigning on behalf of candidates for elected office), to business activity (e.g., providing advisory services to business entities with which he has a consulting arrangement), to Foundation activity.”

This excerpt and all the potential conflicts it describes, plus Chelsea’s warning about business “hustling” at foundation events, would seem more than ample cause to trigger an IRS audit of the foundation. For that matter, why aren’t the IRS and prosecutors already on the case? Any normal foundation has to keep records to show it is separating its nonprofit activity from any for-profit business. (Read  more.)
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Walking in Nature

From The New York Times:
Immediately after completing their walks, the volunteers returned to the lab and repeated both the questionnaire and the brain scan. As might have been expected, walking along the highway had not soothed people’s minds. Blood flow to their subgenual prefrontal cortex was still high and their broodiness scores were unchanged. But the volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk. They also had less blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex. That portion of their brains were quieter.

These results “strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers, Mr. Bratman said. But of course many questions remain, he said, including how much time in nature is sufficient or ideal for our mental health, as well as what aspects of the natural world are most soothing. Is it the greenery, quiet, sunniness, loamy smells, all of those, or something else that lifts our moods? Do we need to be walking or otherwise physically active outside to gain the fullest psychological benefits? Should we be alone or could companionship amplify mood enhancements? “There’s a tremendous amount of study that still needs to be done,” Mr. Bratman said. (Read more.)
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Sunday, October 30, 2016

An Educated Man

From the Art of Manliness:
“I’m bored!” is the plaintive cry uttered by many a child idling away their summer vacation or fall break. They expect their parents to come up with an activity to cure this boredom (if your mom was like mine, she would always make a wry suggestion like, “How about cleaning up your room?”).

Unfortunately, many men never outgrow this need to be entertained by others and don’t develop into manly self-starters. This is the man who puts his head down on the dinner table as people talk after eating (I’ve seen it), the college student who grouses his way through a class outing to the local museum, and the houseguest who comes to visit your fair city and has no idea what he’d like to do during his stay; he leaves all the planning to you.

The reason that children are perennially bored is not that there aren’t entertainment options available—they’re often surrounded by toys and games—but that they have such short attention spans. They play with one thing for a little bit and then another, and then don’t know what else to do. The educated man is able to lose himself in a task, a hobby, a conversation, or a book because he has developed his powers of focus and concentration. (Read more.)
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Trump's Policies

From Townhall:
It also means that my two options are actually this: (1) vote for Trump, or (2) help Hillary Clinton get elected. Once I put the choice in those stark terms, there is a good way to make a decision. Since I find both candidates morally objectionable, I am back to the old-fashioned basis on which I have usually decided how to vote for my entire life: Whose policies are better? Do I agree more with Trump’s policies or with Clinton’s?

It isn’t even close. I overwhelmingly support Trump’s policies and believe that Clinton’s policies will seriously damage the nation, perhaps forever. On the Supreme Court, abortion, religious liberty, sexual orientation regulations, taxes, economic growth, the minimum wage, school choice, Obamacare, protection from terrorists, immigration, the military, energy, and safety in our cities, I think Trump is far better than Clinton (see below for details). Again and again, Trump supports the policies I advocated in my 2010 book Politics According to the Bible. A caution: There are still three weeks until the election. Given the questionable backgrounds of both candidates, there may still be another major “October surprise” about either Trump or Clinton – or both.

But there is also a positive possibility, because Trump claims he is a changed person from who he was in 2005 and he has apologized for how he acted back then. There is a possibility he has really changed, and I hope it is true. I don’t know. Therefore what I write here is my best judgment as of October 18, 2016, given the information we know now. (Read more.)
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Learning from the Sioux

From the Art of Manliness:
The skilled hunter would regularly invite the old men of the tribe to feast with him and his family; in return, the old men entertained and edified the household with their stories of days gone by. By showing himself to be a generous host, “his reputation is won as a hunter and a feast-maker, and almost as famous in his way as the great warrior is he who has a recognized name and standing as a ‘man of peace.’”

Courage. The importance of courage to a Sioux is encapsulated in Eastman’s recollection that he had “wished to be a brave man as much as a white boy desires to be a great lawyer or even President of the United States.”

Courage was predicated on the ability to forget oneself in the pursuit of duty and the desire to serve and protect others. As Eastman explained: “The Sioux conception of bravery makes of it a high moral virtue, for to him it consists not so much in aggressive self-assertion as in absolute self-control”:
The truly brave man, we contend, yields neither to fear nor anger, desire nor agony; he is at all times master of himself; his courage rises to the heights of chivalry, patriotism, and real heroism. ‘Let neither cold, hunger, nor pain, nor the fear of them, neither the bristling teeth of danger nor the very jaws of death itself, prevent you from doing a good deed,’ said an old chief to a scout who was about to seek the buffalo in midwinter for the relief of a starving people.
(Read more.)
Via The Pittsford Perennialist. Share

Saturday, October 29, 2016

In Prayer

The daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette in prayer. Share

A Political Exorcist

From The Stream:
What about people who say Trump is too flawed to be president?

I say they are fundamentally unserious about politics — more concerned with manners than political reality. You’re not just electing a man, you’re electing an administration. And the reality is that every day of a Hillary administration will further the grinding under heel of the Constitution, with leftist bureaucrats fundamentally transforming America. Every day, by every conservative — or Christian — measure, things will get worse. (Read more.)
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A Murder in Ohio

From The National Review:
 A word about remorse. Judge Fleegle, as you’ve heard, found in Emile a woman without remorse. Miller asks, “What does remorse look like? What happens if you have someone who keeps everything inside and is just eaten alive by what’s happened, but they don’t cry, they don’t collapse? That should be the least important thing, in my opinion — the least important factor — in any criminal case.” I agree. Miller tells me that Emile’s father died when she was quite young — about eight. She was taken to counseling and would not talk to the counselor. Miller suspects she turned into a young adult “who does not express her emotions.” I think of beggars I have seen on the streets of New York, and the Gypsies I have seen all over Europe. They are remarkable performers. I have seen them “onstage” and off. Onstage, they are pitiable, pathetic — sometimes heartrending. Their faces contorted in pain and misery. A minute later, they are on break, having a cigarette or talking on their cellphone. Countenances are utterly changed. In courtroom photos and video clips, Emile Weaver often has a confused, hunted look. Or so it seems to me.
 
Also, Judge Fleegle stressed how selfish Emile was (which she herself admitted). She wrote a letter to the court, pleading for mercy. Here was Fleegle’s judgment on the letter: “In those four paragraphs, you mention ‘I’ 15 times. Once again, it’s all about you.” What in our culture — what in modern America — would have taught her that “it” was “about” anything other than herself? Haven’t we been taught to put ourselves — our own needs, our own gratification, our own future — before everything? Isn’t that the (modern) American credo? When you get an abortion, whom are you doing it for? (Read more.)
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Friday, October 28, 2016

Hannibal and the Alps

From War History Online:
In 218 BC, Hannibal marched an army consisting of soldiers, mules, horses and elephants from Spain, over the Alps, and into Italy to attack the Romans at the start of the Second Punic War. His precise route through the Alps has been debated for years. Bill Mahaney, a geologist and professor emeritus at York University in Toronto, led a team that has found evidence supporting a route proposed by British biologist Sir Gavin de Beer. From their study, it appears that the army marched through the Col de la Traversette on the French-Italian border....

 Mahaney has been interested in classical history as a hobby for decades. He knew about the debate over Hannibal’s route and thought he might be able to determine it from descriptions of the geology in historical texts. As an example, the Greek historian Polybius mentions a two-tier rockfall in his account of the trek. While involved with an unrelated study, Mahaney kept an eye out for clues that matched those descriptions. Over time, he accumulated enough clues to venture a hypothesis as to where the army must have passed. There is a mire an area where rocky mountain terrain gives way to vegetation, with a stream below the Col de la Traversette that would make a good place to water animals and allow them to feed. (Read more.)
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Alinsky's Eight Levels of Control

Now operating in America. From Planet X News:
Saul Alinsky died in 1972, but his writings influenced those in political control of our nation today. Recall that Hillary Clinton did her college thesis on his writings and Obama wrote about him in his books....Anyone out there think that this stuff isn’t happening today in the U.S.? All eight rules are currently in play. How to create a social state by Saul Alinsky:

There are eight levels of control that must be obtained before you are able to create a social state. The first is the most important.
1) Healthcare – Control healthcare and you control the people.
2) Poverty – Increase the poverty level as high as possible; poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything for them to live.
3) Debt – Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes and this will produce more poverty.
4) Gun control – Remove people’s ability to defend themselves from the government. That way you are able to create a police state.
5) Welfare – Take control of every aspect of people’s lives (food, housing and income).
6) Education – Take control of what people read and listen to; take control of what children learn in school.
7) Religion – Remove the belief in God from the government and schools.
8) Class warfare – Divide the people into the wealthy and the poor. This will cause more discontent and it will be easier to take from (tax) the wealthy with the support of the poor.

Does any of this sound like what is happening to the United States? Alinsky merely simplified Vladimir Lenin’s original scheme for world conquest by communism, under Russian rule. Stalin described his converts as “useful idiots.” The “useful idiots” have destroyed every nation in which they have seized power and control. It is presently happening at an alarming rate in the United States of America. (Read more.)
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The Madness of Giving Your Child a Smart Phone

From Life Site:
It’s crazy to think that a decade ago, smartphones were uncommon. Many people didn’t even own a cell phone. Now, as we heard from Vanity Fair journalist and author of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers Nancy Jo Sales, nearly every social interaction - and sexual interaction - of teenagers is shaped by the tiny, always-throbbing devices they carry with them wherever they go. This has given rise to cyber-bullying and a spate of suicides, sexting and sexual exploitation of teens by teens, and the nearly non-stop viewing and amateur production of pornography. Teenagers - and children - are pulled into the social webs woven from Facebook to Instagram, from Snapchat to a half-dozen other underground cyber-settings, the interactions and content curated only by the children who populate them, free of parental or adult supervision.

Teenagers know that it’s making their lives miserable. The girls Sales talked to told her so. They also said that they had no way of getting out. Much of life is now lived online, and to opt out is to engage in voluntary isolation. The currency is often nude or sexually explicit pictures or “selfies”—and increasingly, that’s often non-optional, too.

Parents cannot control the new world of teenagers. In many cases, they cannot even penetrate it. That is why one man was so bewildered when his daughter hung herself after a teenager cruelly posted a video of her in the shower on Snapchat—that was the first time the girl’s bereaved father had ever even heard of Snapchat. For parents who wish to rescue their children from the cyber-jungle or spare them the pain that is engulfing millions, there are a number of answers. Open communication and open conversations. Attempted oversight of social media use. Accountability software and filters on all technological devices. (Read more.)
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Slavery in Anglo-Saxon England

From History Today:
To be a slave was to be held in the most abject of conditions. As Old English law codes make clear, slaves could be treated like animals: branded or castrated as a matter of routine and punished by mutilation or death; stoned to death by other slaves if they were male, burned to death if they were female. ‘I go out at daybreak, goading the oxen to the field, and I join them to the plough; there is not a winter so harsh that I dare not lurk at home for fear of my master.’ So begins a famous passage written by Aelfric, a late tenth-century abbot of Eynsham, imagining the pains of an unfree ploughman. ‘Throughout the whole day I must plough a full acre or more ... I must fill the stall of the oxen with hay and supply them with water and carry their dung outside. Oh, oh, the work is hard. Yes, the work is hard, because I am not free.’

This passage – the only one in the surviving corpus of Anglo-Saxon literature to imagine life from a slave’s perspective – has given rise to the notion that the bulk of slaves were men and engaged in heavy agricultural work, such as ploughing. It is a skewed impression, reinforced by the prevalence of ploughmen recorded in Domesday Book. In fact, as other evidence makes clear, slaves might fill any number of functions: we find them occurring, for example, as cooks, weavers, millers and even priests. What’s more, a good many of them, perhaps even the majority, were women, kept in some cases as domestic servants or dairy maids, but also in many instances as concubines – the kind of slavery, in other words, that we tend to associate more readily with the harems of the Middle East in the Early Modern period rather than with England in the early Middle Ages. William of Malmesbury believed that the slave-traders of Bristol fornicated with their female captives before selling them on and it is probably significant in this regard that he emphasises their youth and beauty. Elsewhere he wrote about the wife of Earl Godwine (d.1053), who was said ‘to buy parties of slaves in England and ship them back to Denmark, young girls especially, whose beauty and youth would enhance their price’.
(Read more.)
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Two Catholic Springs

From Fr. Rutler at Crisis:
At the risk of fueling the imaginings of conspiracy theorists, it has been said that paranoia is just having the right information. But even a well-tempered analyst should be taken aback by Mr. Podesta’s reply: “We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this. But I think it lacks the leadership to do so now. Likewise Catholics United. Like most Spring movements, I think this one will have to be bottom up.” Podesta, who professes to be a Catholic, is past president of the Center for American Progress, a think tank that promotes “LGBT equality and women’s reproductive health and rights.”

To usher in this kind of man-made Spring, John Podesta recommended enlisting the help of the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who addressed the dissident organization Call to Action in 2008, and who has served on the board of the National Catholic Reporter.

Sandy—not John Henry—Newman acknowledged that he has a “total lack of understanding of the Catholic Church” since he is Jewish, and thus he deferred to John Podesta for implementing this anthropogenic climate change. But he does have experience in using the Catholic Church as an agent for community organizing, and in 1993 he hired a young man named Barack Obama to register voters in Illinois. Later, the same Obama sought to align Cardinal Bernardin with the United Neighborhood Organizations of Chicago, affiliated with Obama’s own group called the Developing Communities Project. In this he was assisted by Monsignor John J. Egan, another community organizer, who was a close associate of the primeval theorist of social restructuring, Saul Alinsky. That man boasted of his strategy, which was to enlist the sympathies of well-intentioned, if naïve, Catholic clerics, in his essentially Marxist agenda. He said, “To [expletive] your enemies, you’ve first got to seduce your allies.” Eventually, even Cardinal Bernardin disassociated himself with the more extreme organizers including Obama. Hillary Clinton clearly admired Alinsky, but her senior thesis at Wellesley College disagreed with his view that systemic change is “impossible from the inside” and requires radical revision from external engineering.

Well known is the dedication Alinsky wrote for his Rules for Radicals which was the chief object of Hillary Clinton’s college writing: “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history … the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom—Lucifer.” (Read more.)
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Britain's Atlantis

From The Vintage News:
Doggerland was an area of land, now lying beneath the southern North Sea, that connected Great Britain to mainland Europe during and after the last Ice Age. It was then gradually flooded by rising sea levels around 6,500–6,200 BCE. Geological surveys have suggested that it stretched from Britain’s east coast to the Netherlands and the western coasts of Germany and the peninsula ofJutland. It was probably a rich habitat with human habitation in the Mesolithic period, although rising sea levels gradually reduced it to low-lying islands before its final destruction, perhaps following a tsunami caused by the Storegga Slide.

The archaeological potential of the area had first been discussed in the early 20th century, but interest intensified in 1931 when a commercial trawler operating between the sandbanks and shipping hazards of the Leman Bank and Ower Bank east of the Wash dragged up a barbed antler point that dated to a time when the area was tundra. Vessels have dragged up remains of mammoth, lion and other land animals, and small numbers of prehistoric tools and weapons. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cleanliness and Class

From Pen and Pension:
Being clean was expensive. All water for washing or bathing would have to be fetched in buckets from a well or a stream. Then it had to be heated by burning suitable amounts of wood or coal. To heat enough even for a shallow bath would take a good deal of fuel — fuel which otherwise could have been used for cooking or heating a room.

Many of the wealthy would have used perfumes to keep themselves smelling good — another expense beyond the reach of the poorer classes — and had access to clean underclothes, shirts and bed-linen whenever they wanted. If you couldn’t afford the large quantity of linens needed for this, you might wash, but you wouldn’t stay clean for very long. This was a time when washing clothes was both labour-intensive and expensive, as I shall show in an upcoming post, so even the better off might undertake it once only every few weeks. (Read more.)
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Child Regret

One of the saddest things I have ever read. From The Stream:
Marie Claire magazine recently published one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. It’s one of those pieces where all the names have been changed because nobody wants to admit to what they’ve just admitted: child-regret. Mothers, feeling doomed by motherhood and wishing they’d never had kids. The article opens with Laura’s story:
“The regret hit me when the grandmas went home and my husband went back to the office and I was on my own with him,” she says. “I realized that this was my life now — and it was unbearable.” As more time passed, Laura felt convinced that she had made a life-altering mistake. “I hated, hated, hated the situation I found myself in,” she says. “I think the word for what I felt is ‘trapped.’ After I had a kid, I realized I hated being the mother to an infant, but by then it was too late. I couldn’t walk away and still live with myself, but I also couldn’t stand it. I felt like my life was basically a middle-class prison.”
According to the article, the number of mothers who feel this way is increasing:
It’s a huge taboo, admitting this kind of thing, but there’s a growing and largely ignored group of mothers all over the world who are confessing their regret over having children. Day after day, as they change diapers, drive to soccer practice, and help with college applications, they fantasize about a life unburdened by dependents and free from the needs of others. A do-over.
“What might have been” beckons loudly to these women, and they mourn the life they feel was taken from them, and all the freedom and achievement it would have held:
“I wonder if my accomplishments would be more spectacular,” says Ananya, a 38-year-old freelance writer and editor who divides her time between the United States and Singapore. “Would I have written my second or third book? Would I be able to travel to chase that elusive story? I feel motherhood has slowed me down so much. She envies friends not for their spontaneous vacations and naps, but for the time and space they have to think.
“I hold a lot of data in my head,” Ananya says of constantly keeping on top of all the details that go with small children: doctor’s appointments, weight, height, most recent allergies, toys they want, foods they will eat. “I long for a life without this mental clutter,” she explains.
It’s too easy to say, “Well, these women clearly just aren’t cut out for motherhood. Some people aren’t.” Perhaps they really feel that way; nevertheless, that’s a cop-out answer. The trouble here goes much deeper and is far more revealing. This is evidence of a culture that has shrunk into a real smallness of being. So small that there is only room for one: I. (Read more.)
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The Crisis in Masculinity

From Maggie Gallagher:
Eberstadt here perhaps underestimates men’s reluctance to admit to pollsters a failure or a weakness, but still, this reflects an enormous change in masculine norms. In the past, men would rather have it be known they aren’t working because they can’t find a job than that they chose financial dependence on others. As Eberstadt writes, “This mass retreat from the workforce has been possible to ignore because these men are largely socially invisible and inert.” No Male Lives Matter rallies or riots, no union or political organizing on their behalf. The complaints of men are invisible in public discourse in part because we have defined our social goal as getting more women to work. The Atlantic on July 25 published an essay by Derek Thompson, “What Are Young Non-Working Men Doing?” Since 2000, “the participation rate of 16-to-24-year-olds with just a high-school degree has fallen 10 points to about 70 percent,” he observed. Where are they? Living in Mom’s basement, as Hillary Clinton derided Bernie Sanders supporters for supposedly doing. Thirty-five percent of 18-to-34-year-olds live with parents, more than the 28 percent who live with a spouse — this is part of the fruits of the divorce and unwed-childbearing “revolution.” Many of these parents are likely to be single mothers, as few working fathers are willing to support idle sons indefinitely. (Read more.)
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500 Years of Utopia

From Rhys Tranter:
This year marks the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia. Despite its advanced age, More’s compelling vision of a perfect society remains a quintessentially modern aspiration. Utopia is hailed as ‘astonishingly radical’ by contemporary political thinkers, and the text continues to offer inspiration and renewal for writers, artists, and filmmakers.

The perfect island of Utopia is a dream of societal harmony and order, not unlike the Biblical garden paradise or Plato’s Republic. More’s early modern work is considered a canonical text of Western literature and culture, providing a template to which we might one day aspire. But Utopia is also a perplexing and troubling text. More’s explorer protagonist, Raphael Hythloday, is presented as a companion of Vespucci on his voyage to the New World, which binds the utopian dream to the European invasion and colonization of America. It is no coincidence that there are slaves on the island of Utopia. Despite its associations with liberal thought and communal happiness, the island of Utopia has a rigid societal hierarchy and strictly-regulated communal laws. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Man Who Invented Bookselling

From Literary Hub:
And if you’re a bookseller, then the chances are that you’ve encountered marketing strategies and competitive pressures that trace their origins to Lackington’s shop. In the 21st-century marketplace, there is sometimes a longing for an earlier, simpler age, but the uneasy tension between giant and small retailers seems to have been a constant since the beginning. The Temple of the Muses, which was one of the first modern bookstores, was a mammoth enterprise, by far the largest bookstore in England, boasting an inventory of over 500,000 volumes, annual sales of 100,000 books, and yearly revenues of £5,000 (roughly $700,000 today). All of this made Lackington a very wealthy man—admired by some and despised by others—but London’s greatest bookseller began his career inauspiciously as an illiterate shoemaker. (Read more.)
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The Pilate Option?

From Tom Piatak at Chronicles:
British statesman Enoch Powell began his most famous speech with this observation: "The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils."  I thought of Powell's cogent dictum often over the last week or so, as Rod Dreher (and others) have been loudly insisting that Trump's moral failings prevent Christians from voting for him, and even implying that supporting Trump somehow represents a betrayal of Christianity.  Even more recently, Dreher has tweeted, "By the time this thing is over, Trump will have indelibly stained everyone who stood with him.  Christians, please think hard about this."  Since tens of millions of American Christians of all denominations will in fact end up voting for Trump, that's an awful lot of indelible stain to go around.

Of course, virtually no one will be voting for Trump because of his moral failings.  Those failings are an embarrassment to his supporters and a source of joy to his detractors.  Not even Trump is defending those failings.  (I discussed those failings here.)  He has apologized forthrightly for his comments on the Access Hollywood tape, and denied that he behaved badly toward the women who have come forth on the eve of the election to accuse him of unwanted kissing and groping.  And, at this early stage, it seems that Trump's denial is more believable than some of the accusations, including the claim that Trump groped a woman like an "octopus" in a first class cabin three decades ago.

Since Trump's boorishness is not the basis for his support among Christians, the question is whether there are reasons that would justify Christians deciding to vote for Trump.  The answer to that question is an emphatic yes, since there are clear differences between Trump and the only other person running with a chance of being elected president on November 8, Hillary Clinton.  There are in fact numerous differences on important issues between Trump and Clinton, but two are particularly relevant in considering Dreher's fulminations against Trump: religious liberty, which Dreher believes is imperiled by the Democrats, and the prospect of yet more American intervention in the Mideast, opposition to which is the raison d'être of the American Conservative, the magazine for which Dreher writes.

The Obama administration began something new in American history, an attempt to deprive mainstream Christian bodies of the ability to run their institutions according to the dictates of their religious beliefs.  There is little doubt that a Clinton administration would intensify this assault on the autonomy of Christian institutions.  Indeed, Clinton has spoken of the need of Christians to change their beliefs to conform to today's leftist consensus, and the Clinton emails released by Wikileaks show that close advisers to Clinton created organizations to help undermine the "middle ages dictatorship" that is the papacy and end the "severely backward gender relations" that supposedly mark Catholicism.  The Supreme Court, though, put up a roadblock to the Democratic Party's assault on religious freedom in its 5 to 4 decision in the Hobby Lobby case.  But, with the death of Antonin Scalia, that decision now hangs by a thread, and whether it remains good law will be decided by the justice chosen to replace Scalia. It is virtually certain that a justice chosen by Hillary will cast the deciding vote to overturn Hobby Lobby and give the green light to a renewed assault on religious liberty.  After all, the last Democratic justice who deviated from leftist orthodoxy on social issues was Byron White, appointed by John F. Kennedy in 1961.

The differences are also stark over the American role in Syria.  Clinton, the architect of the disastrous decision to overthrow Khadafy in Libya, is equally committed to regime-change in Syria, even at the risk of confrontation with Russia.  Trump, on the other hand, has no desire to plunge us into another Mideast war, much less one that might also bring about war with Russia.  We know from our sorry experience since 2001 how disastrous intervening in the Mideast has been for America.  We also know how disastrous it has been for Mideast Christians.  And a victory for the forces backed by Clinton in Syria would be a calamity for Syria's Christians. (Read more.)
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Nettle Shirts and Cunning Women

From author Deborah Swift:
The difference between folk medicine and the “official” medicine was largely that folk medicine used plants that occurred naturally in Britain and had not been brought over from abroad. Official medicine drew on metals, chemical compounds and herbs and spices imported from other countries, such as the Mediterranean or Arabia. Physicians could charge more for their exotic-sounding imports, which by the dint of their strangeness appeared to offer more appeal.

In the 17th century many Folk remedies were “simples”, ie a single species of plants used as a cure or palliative, whereas apothecaries mixed perhaps thirty or more of ingredients for their “treacles”. Venice treacle, given by Thomas Sydenham to Lady Sedley in 1686, contained more than seventy ingredients including: wormwood, orange peel, angelica, nutmeg, horseradish, scurvy grass, white horehound, centaury, camomile, and juniper berries. All infused in 5 pints of sack!

And what was this medicine for? A headache. (Read more.)
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Monday, October 24, 2016

An Intimate Life of Henry VIII's True Wife

Catherine of Aragon
From
Amy Licence places Catherine’s life firmly within the Europe of the time, displaying a brilliant understanding of the Reformation, and its progress from central Europe to Henry’s court. Moreover, despite the eventual failure of the marriage, Amy Licence paints a glittering picture of the court of Henry and Catherine at its height, when this young, formidable couple were the superstars of Europe.
The most revealing part of the book is in the character of Catherine herself. The author has researched every aspect of Catherine’s life and personality, providing a portrait of a formidable woman navigating her way through a male-dominated world while trying to hold true to her deeply ingrained Catholic principles. And with this comes the realisation that it must have taken an inordinate amount of personal courage to face down Henry and his demands, and the overriding fear for her own personal safety.

Of course, the latter part of the book focuses on the divorce. I am no great fan of Catherine of Aragon and have often wondered at her stubbornness and why she was so unmovable in the face of Henry’s desperate need for an heir. Amy Licence explains Catherine’s viewpoint with absolute clarity; the reasons she stuck to her guns at the risk of her own safety and that of her daughter. The author’s theories and arguments are well though-out and incisive, giving an unprecedented insight into  the mind of this amazing queen and evoking empathy in the least sympathetic of readers, I’m sure.

I have no doubt that Catherine of Aragon, an Intimate Life of Henry VIII’s True Wife will be seen as the definitive biography of Catherine of Aragon. It is an impressive, essential complement to any Tudor library.
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Men, Abortion, and the Sexual Revolution

From Patti Maguire Armstrong:
In the abortion drama, men’s pain was overlooked for a long time. Dr. David Russell is one of those men. He actually overlooked it himself for a time. But death is not nothing. So one cold February morning, he started to remember. Outside an abortion facility with one-hundred-and-fifty other people, the past became the present. Russell had converted to Catholicism, became a veterinarian, and is now a permanent deacon for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M. But before all that, he had come to that very facility before, and not to pray. In 1983, Russell had gone inside with his girlfriend for an abortion. That is how his son Matthew died. Russell was an agnostic, yet, he tried unsuccessfully to convince his girlfriend not to abort their child. He numbly sat in the waiting room during the procedure. No one spoke to him. The relationship soon ended and he stuffed the abortion experience away, but a light went out from him that day. The whole flashback was entirely unwelcome. Russell didn’t even want to be outside the abortion facility that morning. He thought only fanatics did that, but it was assigned to participate in a prayer vigil for his church class. Emotions and memories broke out of hiding and Russell filled with regret. If only he had known that fatherhood cannot be erased! If only he had realized he had a son and not a blob of tissue, he would have tried harder to convince his girlfriend not to choose abortion. (Read more.)
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Those Monthly Cramps

Have women always had them? Oh, yes. From Wonders and Marvels:
Questions about medical practitioners’ expectations apply even more to period pains. Simpson considered that these too should be treated, recommending blood-letting, warm baths and fomentations, enemas and sedatives – the latter including opium – as well as treatment between the periods to relieve any underlying inflammation or congestion. Different theories as to what caused the pain existed; was it due to the blood being ‘too thick’, to an obstruction, or to the veins which send the blood into the womb being stretched by the sheer quantity?

Here, too, women’s voices can be heard even in male-authored texts. In her book Maids, Wives, Widows: Exploring Early Modern Woman’s Lives 1540-1714, Dr Sara Read noted a passage in Helkiah Crooke’s Microcosmographia (1615)
Between the kidneys and the womb the consent is evident in the torments and pains in the loins which women and maids have in or about the time of their courses. In so much as some have told me they had at least bear a child as endure that pain; and myself have seen some to my thinking by their deportment; in as great extremity in the one as in the other.
This explains why pain can be felt in other parts of the body; there is ‘consent’ or ‘sympathy’ between the organs. One way out of experiencing period pain was to get pregnant before your first period, and this was thought to be good for the baby as well: The English Midwife (1682) states that ‘if a virgin conceive before her first flowers [a traditional word for periods], it proves lusty and perfect child’.

After women’s roles started to change following the First World War, and in the popular literature of my mother’s day, the expectation of pain was played down in favor of the image of the girl who simply needs to ‘take things a little easier during those days’, the phrasing of a 1930 booklet for girls, Mary P. Callender’s Marjorie May’s Twelfth Birthday (a marketing device for Kotex pads). A similar message is promoted today, for example in the information campaign linked to the marketing of one brand of sanitary towel, which mentions cramps, tiredness and backache but emphasizes ‘stretches’ and ‘a positive mindset’. (Read more.)
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Porches and Pumpkins

From Southern Lady:
For this look, channel a farmhouse feel with a dose of feminine flair. A wreath made from fall leaves sets the scene, and towering cornstalks give prominence to the small-space display. Fill in with stacked pumpkins, potted plants, and baskets filled with pinecones, saving a few cones to string over the doorway with burlap and grapevine cascading in dainty curls. Get creative with signs of the season’s harvest, such as a wreath made from colored cornhusks. Use woven-look planters and hay bales as an easy way to incorporate levels. Or emphasize a clean black-and-white palette with sleek ebony lanterns on a whitewashed porch. A profusion of orange and green pumpkins along the entrance enhances the contrast and offers a festive October welcome. (Read more.)
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Trump's "Gettysburg Address"

Every voting American should listen to Trump's speech. From NewsMax:
GOP nominee Donald Trump Saturday outlined an ambitious plan for his first 100 days in office, saying on the first day alone he has several steps he plans to take to end Washington's corruption. "One thing we all know is that we will never solve our problems by relying on the same politicians who created these problems in the first place," Trump said to a supportive, cheering audience in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. "Hillary Clinton is not running against me, she's running against change. And she's running against all of the American people and all of the American voters."

It's time to for Americans to "dream big" once again, said Trump, outlining in what he called a "contract between Donald J. Trump and the American voter," that begins with "bringing honesty, accountability and change to Washington, D.C."

The first six measures, Trump said, will be "immediately" pursued on his first day of his first term in office to "clean up the corruption and special interests collusion in Washington." Trump said he would institute:
  • "A Constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
  • A hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition, exempting military public safety and public health;
  • A requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated. Regulations are killing our country and our jobs. Fourth, a five-year ban on white house and congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service.
  • A lifetime ban on white house officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
  • A complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections. That's what's happening."
Also on the same day, Trump said he will begin taking "and really taking strongly" seven actions to protect American workers. (Read more.)
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A Rare Collection Of Shakespeare's Works

From Our World Mysteries:
William Shakespeare’s First Folio —the Bard of Avon’s first collected edition of 38 plays, published in 1623, shortly after his death —is among the world’s rarest and most valued books. Without it, we might not have ever known “Macbeth.” Now, a previously unknown copy has turned up in a Gothic mansion. The folio was discovered in the collection of the Mount Stuart house, on Scotland’s Isle of Bute, and it has been authenticated by Emma Smith, a professor of Shakespeare at the University of Oxford. [History’s 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries]

At the time of Shakespeare’s death, at age 52 in 1616, only about half of his plays had been published. They typically appeared in quartos, which were small stand-alone editions that could be printed cheaply. Then in 1623, John Heminges and Henry Condell —who were part of the King’s Men acting troupe —collected Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and tragedies for a large-format folio edition.

Had the First Folio never been published, more than half of Shakespeare’s plays might have been lost to history. “Julius Caesar,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and 15 other plays all appear in print for the first time in this collected edition. The First Folio also includes as its frontispiece the Martin Droeshout portrait of Shakespeare, which is considered one of the rare reliable likenesses of the great playwright, as it was approved and published by his friends.

Scholars think that, at most, 750 copies of the First Folio were printed, according to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Of those, 234 are known to have survived, including the newly authenticated version. Slight differences in each copy are partly blamed on the proofing that happened during printing. According to a statement from Mount Stuart, their version is unusual because it is bound in three volumes, with many pages left blank for illustrations, as well as for annotations and notes from its onetime owner Isaac Reed, who edited versions of Shakespeare’s works in the 18th century.

“This is an exciting discovery because we didn’t know it existed and it was owned by someone who edited Shakespeare in the 18th century,” Smith said in the statement. Reed apparently bought his copy of the First Folio in 1786 and records suggest it was sold after Reed’s death in 1807 for a mere $54. Sometime after that, it ended up in Mount Stuart’s collection. (Read more.)
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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Scolding, Compassion and Relief

From Jane Austen's Microcosm:
What else could, in Emma’s opinion, lure the labouring classes away from the straight and narrow? The prospect of a mug of ale at the Crown, after an exhausting day? The appeal of idleness? Lust? They must be aware that they can’t afford so many children – but then again, without ‘separate rooms’ … The situation must surely be more complex than that. On her way to the humble cottage, for instance, she explains:
A very narrow income has a tendency to contract the mind, and sour the temper. Those who can barely live, and who live perforce in a very small, and generally very inferior, society, may well be illiberal and cross. This does not apply, however, to Miss Bates.
By her own admission, then, things may not be as simple as they look. Later on she acknowledges that ‘with insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of every body’s feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange every body’s destiny.’

Underpinning the class system was a shared belief that inequality had been ordained by God. Charity mitigated injustice and eased the conscience of the privileged. However condescending, it was much better than being upbraided for your lack of means. As Emma puts it,
I hope it may be allowed that if compassion has produced exertion and relief to the sufferers, it has done all that is truly important. If we feel for the wretched, enough to do all we can for them, the rest is empty sympathy, only distressing to ourselves.
I get the impression that rich and clever Miss Woodhouse might have done better than utter comforting platitudes, give them a coin and a few medicinal or household management tips, or offer a jug of soup. But she’s satisfied with what she reckons she’s achieved. From the very beginning we are warned that she has ‘a disposition to think a little too well of herself.’ On the other hand, she’s young, and caring in her own way. Experience and critical reflection may still broaden her mind.
In 1800, Jane Austen’s friend Mrs Lefroy, the Ashe rector’s wife, set up a straw manufactory, so that women and children could earn a few pence by making mats. And Eliza Chute, whose husband owned The Vyne and represented Hampshire in Parliament, made broth for her villagers and handed out blankets. In September of that year she writes:
The poor are dissatisfied & with reason. I much fear that wheat will not be cheap this year: & every other necessary of life enormously dear: the poor man cannot purchase those comforts he ought to have: beer, bacon, cheese. Can one wonder that discontents lurk in their bosoms: I cannot think their wages sufficient, & the pride of a poor man ( & why should we [not] allow him some pride) is hurt, when he is obliged to apply to the parish for relief & too often receives harsh answers from the overseers.
(Read more.)
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Abortion Demeans Women

Abortion has nothing to do with empowering women. It has everything to do with reducing them to objects of pleasure, who can be forced to have an abortion when the men in their lives do not want to be bothered with a child. From Life Site:
Thanks to the advent of the birth control pill and contraception, sex has turned into a recreational activity. Men and women engage in it, while floating in and out of relationships. Both sexes use each other in the promiscuous lifestyle made possible by birth control. When the contraceptives fail or are not used, women can become pregnant when they did not plan to be. Having enjoyed sexual relations without the worry of fathering an unwanted child, some men lose their minds when they learn they got a woman pregnant. Such men may threaten to leave their pregnant women altogether, unless they procure an abortion. Women can be caught in this dilemma if they wish to keep their babies. The love these mothers want so badly to experience is conditional on there being no children in the picture. If the mothers resist the pressure to abort, then they could be left to raise their children alone. Deadbeat dads often try to wash their hands of any responsibility for their own flesh and blood. Rather than helping women to fulfill their creative potential, abortion allows men to manipulate women into squashing it. (Read more.)
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Our "Maybe" Culture

From Fathers for Good:
Chesterton reminds us that true love by its nature desires to make vows. If you do not know yourself well enough to make this kind of appointment with the future, then you should not get married. If you are not certain that this is the person with whom you want to have children and grow old together, stay away from sex. Keeping your options open should not include destroying someone else’s future.
In today’s climate of hostility toward vows of any kind, it takes good friendships, healing, support, accompaniment, and growth in virtue to make these kinds of binding decisions. Now as a married couple, my husband and I try to provide help and guidance for those who are planning their future. You also can be someone young couples seek out for assistance. (Read more.)
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Friday, October 21, 2016

A Scottish Sanctuary

From Victoria:
Mere minutes from central Edinburgh, secreted away from the bustle and tourist traffic of the Royal Mile and nearby high streets, Prestonfield stands at the end of a quiet, tree-lined lane. The centuries-old Scottish estate was reborn in 2003 as an exclusive hotel decorated with sumptuous fabrics, fine art, and heirloom antiques.

Edinburgh, Scotland, is often counted among Europe’s most breathtaking destinations. Its grand stone castle is perched high upon a central promontory—a regal presence presiding over the city. Centuries of history unfold on streets that radiate from the majestic structure. Nearby, within secluded gardens on the fringe of the urban district, imposing gates frame a grand hotel. Built in 1687 as the manse of the Lord Provost, the baroque-style house was restored in 2003 under the vision and artistic eye of owner James Thomson as the exclusive Prestonfield. The renovation focused on reviving the character of the ancient property and reestablishing its distinctive appeal. (Read more.)

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The Clinton Russia Fiction

What's really going on. From Forbes:
The Clinton Campaign and the Obama Administration are presenting the American people a cynical political charade regarding Russia and Vladimir Putin, with most of the media playing the Greek Chorus. What is so remarkable is that in order to accept what Clinton is now saying about Putin and Russia means having to ignore the previous seven years of Clinton’s and Obama’s accommodation of the man and country they now insist is a national security threat.

This list of national security compromising appeasements that Obama and Clinton handed Putin is very long, but here are some highlights:

In 2009, Obama and Clinton abandoned strategic U.S. allies Poland and the Czech Republic by withdrawing newly placed missile defense systems from their respective nations. The ostensible reason for the defenses was to protect our allies from Iranian missiles, but the Czechs and the Poles saw it as a relationship with the U.S. that would provide them with added security against a Russian invasion similar to what had just happened in the nation of Georgia, and what subsequently happened in Ukraine. (Read more.)
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Austen's Pride

From author Isabel Azar:
This summer, I had the delightful privilege of attending a performance of the lovely new musical, Austen’s Pride, at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York (the production was part of the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival's summer season, and my mother and I made the journey from our home down South). It was well worth it; the duo behind the show, Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs, have skillfully woven together two riveting narratives, that of the novel itself, and the story of Jane Austen’s creation of it. They’ve been working on their masterpiece for roughly sixteen years now; stimulated by the profusion of Austen adaptations that came out in the late 1990’s, the ladies set about creating something of their own. As part of their research, they went to England and visited Chawton Cottage, Austen’s home, and were inspired to include the author in their show. Since its first performance in 2006, the musical has gone through many changes, and now, Austen has become more than a plot device; she’s a prominent character herself. She propels the play forward, both in her close bond with her sister Cassandra and in her associations with her characters. In the first scene, Jane rushes onstage to tell her beloved sibling that the publishers for Sense and Sensibility want to see more of her work, and together, the pair ponders the prospect of sending the manuscript for a certain First Impressions. Jane is uncertain at first, but with a little nudging from Cassandra, she decides to “give the story a second chance,” and is soon busy with editing her early draft. (Read more.)
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How to Keep the Homeschool Going

From Seton Magazine:
The variety of available sports, lessons and clubs are so tempting that many families, like mine, must work hard to choose them with great discrimination in order to keep schoolwork as the top priority. Even when limiting the number of activities, it can sometimes seem overwhelming to try to fit it all in. Usually, that’s a red flag to start pulling back on the activities and just focus on academics. There are times when the disruption will be only temporary, such as when students are doing extra rehearsals for a play, or practicing more for a tournament. In such times, it can make sense to momentarily change the school routine and fit in the learning when and where you can. For several years, my older two children were involved in a wonderful homeschool acting troupe. With careful planning, we were able to fit in the regular weekly rehearsals. Twice a year would be the performances. (Read more.)


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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Jeanne II, Tainted Queen

From
Jeanne de France was to be the only surviving child of her parents, Louis of France and Margaret of Burgundy. Louis had become King of Navarre on the death of his mother in 1305 and was married to Margaret later in the same year, when Louis was 16 years old and Margaret was about 15.

Louis was Dauphin of France, the eldest of 3 surviving sons of Philip IV le Bel, king of France and Navarre, and of Jeanne I, queen of France and de jure queen of Navarre. Louis’ sister, Isabella, married Edward II of England. His brothers, Philip and Charles, were married to 2 sisters, Blanche and Joan of Burgundy, who were also cousins to Margaret, being the daughters of her uncle Otto IV, Count of Burgundy.

In 1314 a scandal rocked the French monarchy to its very core, leaving a question mark over Jeanne’s legitimacy that is still there today. The Tour de Neslé Affair saw 2-year-old Jeanne’s mother, Margaret, convicted of adultery, and imprisoned in the Chateau-Gaillard for the rest of her life. Margaret’s cousin and sister-in-law, Blanche, was convicted alongside her. Although Blanche’s sister, Joan, with the support of her husband Philip,  was cleared of the charges, she was held under house arrest for a short time as it was believed she knew of the adulterous liaisons of her sisters-in-law.

The 2 knights in question, the D’Aunay brothers, were tortured and castrated before being brutally executed by being ‘broken on the wheel’ and decapitated. How much Jeanne would have known of these events is uncertain. Hopefully she was shielded from events in the royal nursery, but it  is not inconceivable that she was treated differently after the discovery of her mother’s adultery. Margaret’s betrayal meant Jeanne’s legitimacy was now in question.

However, events were to change again within in months. In November, 1314, Jeanne’s grandfather Philip IV died and her father succeeded to the French throne as King Louis X. Louis was now desperate to produce a male heir and with the papacy dragging its heels on his divorce from Jeanne’s mother, it’s possible he took matters into his own hands. Whether it was from natural causes after her rough treatment – or, more likely, strangulation on Louis’ orders – Margaret died shortly after Louis’ accession.

Louis then married Clementia of Hungary and the couple were crowned jointly at Reims in August 1315. Nothing is recorded of  the relationship between Jeanne and her stepmother, or of how Jeanne’s status changed as the daughter of the King. However, doubts over Jeanne’s legitimacy must still have been at the forefront of people’s minds as Louis X, on his deathbed in June 1316, made a point of  stating that Jeanne was his legitimate daughter. Clementia was pregnant at the time of Louis’ death, after a particularly strenuous game of tennis; their son John the Posthumous was born 5 months later and died just 5 days after that, causing a succession crisis.
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"Compliant Citizenry"

From The Conservative Tribune:
This email, as well as many others, demonstrate what Clinton actually thinks of American citizens, and it isn’t good. In fact, it strongly supports her “deplorable” remark a few weeks ago. Clinton’s plan isn’t to create a stronger America — it is to create a public that doesn’t understand what the government is doing to it, and, as a result, is largely oblivious to how the government is taking control of their lives. When the public becomes content with keeping up with the Kardashians, it fails to grasp how the government is ruining the country. (Read more.)
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Irish Proverbs

From Irish Central:
10. You'll arrive back with one arm as long as the other

Meaning: You heading out on a thankless quest. You'll arrive back with nothing to show for it.

11. You'll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind

Meaning: Merely thinking about something won't get it done.

12. He didn't lick it off a stone

Meaning: People’s actions are influenced by those around them.

13. I wouldn't call the Queen my aunt

Meaning: Being in such a contented mood that even becoming royalty couldn't improve upon it. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Return of Corsets

From Style.Mic:
"In the Victorian era, many men in positions of power opposed the wearing of corsets, which is why there are plenty of newspaper reports and books referencing doctors saying they're bad for women's health," Lori Smith, a fashion researcher who also works at the London College of Fashion, said in an interview. "Tight-lacing was not as common at this time as many would have you believe, plus our ribs are flexible and internal organs are designed to move around." 

So, what changed? What made women start to become less enthusiastic about corsets? The answer: Fashion. By the turn of the 20th century, designers were pushing for women to ditch the corset for a more natural look. Chanel, for instance, pushed for no corsets at all, and so the well-to-do women who had until then embraced corsetry suddenly had second thoughts. (Read more.)
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Jose Sanchez del Rio

From TFP:
The Mexican constitution of 1917 -- socialist at its core -- sparked this terrible conflict.  It put the Church under the strict control of the State: it regulated Catholic preaching, allotted a fixed number of priests per state, dictated Mass attendance, baptisms, weddings, the Sacraments, and tithing.  Even the ringing of Church bells was hampered, and prelates caught disobeying these unjust laws were exiled or killed.

The president at the time, Venustiano Carranza, did not immediately enforce  the anti-Catholic laws, but showed temporary tolerance.  When Plutarco Elías Calles took power in 1920, however, the new constitution was brutally enforced.  Calles sent more than two hundred priests into exile, along with a number of archbishops and bishops.

The worst persecution was unleashed by the iniquitous Ley Calles (Calles Law) of July 31, 1926.  It prohibited the practice of the Catholic religion in public.  All education was removed from the care of the Church and put under direct State control.  Religious vows were illegal.  Monasteries and convents were dissolved, and religious could no longer use habits.  Church property was confiscated.

Moreover, it was illegal for anyone, especially priests, to speak out against the government or the constitution.   Priests wishing to exercise their ministry had to ask the State for permission.  Frequently, this “permission” was not granted. Finally, those who did not obey these immoral laws were fined or imprisoned.  A “serious” or repeated offense often meant execution. (Read more.)
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Finding God's Will

From Seton Magazine:
By now, many of this year’s high school graduates have begun their first semester at college. Others are searching for a job or discerning their vocations. For some, it’s an exciting time, filled with the promise of a bright future. But for others, the future can be a daunting prospect. That’s hardly surprising, given the contradictory messages coming from society! One minute, we are practically superhuman, capable of success in anything so long as we believe in ourselves. The next, we are helpless victims caught in the twin fists of Fate and Fortune. Society has a ready-made solution for this terrifying contradiction: mediocrity. In fact, it has even invented a System to easily attain mediocrity, a System that all high school graduates are expected to follow:
  1. Go to college
  2. Get a degree
  3. Get a job that will support the American lifestyle
  4. Make money in relative security
It doesn’t matter whether the young adult in question is a man or a woman; whether he or she is called to marriage, singlehood, or consecrated life; or whether, most importantly, this is the path God has destined for him or her....

Abandonment to God’s Will is the only strategy that guarantees life success. If, by abandoning ourselves to His Will, we appear a victor in the world’s eyes, we win. If, by abandoning ourselves to His Will, we appear a loser in the world’s eyes, we still win. No “System” is right for everyone. Our society is wrong to assume that. In the end, only God knows what path will make us happy, and also save our soul. If we truly give our will to God, all that is left for us to do are two things, and they are very simple. The first is to “glory in our infirmities,” as St. Paul would say, for it’s precisely our weakness that allows God to work such marvels through us! (Read more.)
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Little Ballerina

The Archduchess Antoine dancing a ballet at her older brother's wedding. To quote:
vivelareine:
Did you know? In 1784, Louis XVI passed a decree which allowed the Paris Opera Ballet School to create a special class for children under 12, to allow dancers to begin their training and education at an earlier age. [image: Detail from a painting depicting Marie Antoinette and her siblings performing to celebrate the marriage of Joseph II by Georg Weikert; © Château de Versailles, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Christophe Fouin]
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The Hillary Tapes

Listen to Hillary Clinton chuckle over the rape of a little girl. How can anyone support such an evil woman? From Free Beacon:
Newly discovered audio recordings of Hillary Clinton from the early 1980s include the former first lady’s frank and detailed assessment of the most significant criminal case of her legal career: defending a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. In 1975, the same year she married Bill, Hillary Clinton agreed to serve as the court-appointed attorney for Thomas Alfred Taylor, a 41-year-old accused of raping the child after luring her into a car.

The recordings, which date from 1983-1987 and have never before been reported, include Clinton’s suggestion that she knew Taylor was guilty at the time. She says she used a legal technicality to plead her client, who faced 30 years to life in prison, down to a lesser charge. The recording and transcript, along with court documents pertaining to the case, are embedded below. The full story of the Taylor defense calls into question Clinton’s narrative of her early years as a devoted women and children’s advocate in Arkansas—a narrative the 2016 presidential frontrunner continues to promote on her current book tour.

Her comments on the rape trial are part of more than five hours of unpublished interviews conducted by Arkansas reporter Roy Reed with then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and his wife in the mid-1980s. The interviews, archived at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, were intended for an Esquire magazine profile that was never published, and offer a rare personal glimpse of the couple during a pivotal moment in their political careers. But Hillary Clinton’s most revealing comments—and those most likely to inflame critics—concern the decades-old rape case. (Read more.)
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Why I Was Wrong About Christianity

From the New Statesman:


When I was a boy, my upbringing as a Christian was forever being weathered by the gale force of my enthusiasms. First, there were dinosaurs. I vividly remember my shock when, at Sunday school one day, I opened a children’s Bible and found an illustration on its first page of Adam and Eve with a brachiosaur. Six years old I may have been, but of one thing – to my regret – I was rock-solid certain: no human being had ever seen a sauropod. That the teacher seemed not to care about this error only compounded my sense of outrage and bewilderment. A faint shadow of doubt, for the first time, had been brought to darken my Christian faith.

With time, it darkened further still. My obsession with dinosaurs – glamorous, ­ferocious, extinct – evolved seamlessly into an obsession with ancient empires. When I read the Bible, the focus of my fascination was less the children of Israel or Jesus and his disciples than their adversaries: the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Romans. In a similar manner, although I vaguely continued to believe in God, I found Him infinitely less charismatic than my favourite Olympians: Apollo, Athena, Dionysus. Rather than lay down laws and condemn other deities as demons, they preferred to enjoy themselves. And if they were vain, selfish and cruel, that only served to endow them with the allure of rock stars.

By the time I came to read Edward Gibbon and the other great writers of the Enlightenment, I was more than ready to accept their interpretation of history: that the triumph of Christianity had ushered in an “age of superstition and credulity”, and that modernity was founded on the dusting down of long-forgotten classical values. My childhood instinct to think of the biblical God as the po-faced enemy of liberty and fun was rationalised. The defeat of paganism had ushered in the reign of Nobodaddy, and of all the crusaders, inquisitors and black-hatted puritans who had served as his acolytes. Colour and excitement had been drained from the world. “Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean,” Swinburne wrote, echoing the apocryphal lament of Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome. “The world has grown grey from thy breath.” Instinctively, I agreed.

So, perhaps it was no surprise that I should have continued to cherish classical antiquity as the period that most stirred and inspired me. When I came to write my first work of history, Rubicon, I chose a subject that had been particularly close to the hearts of the philosophes: the age of Cicero. The theme of my second, Persian Fire, was one that even in the 21st century was serving Hollywood, as it had served Montaigne and Byron, as an archetype of the triumph of liberty over despotism: the Persian invasions of Greece.

The years I spent writing these studies of the classical world – living intimately in the company of Leonidas and of Julius Caesar, of the hoplites who had died at Thermopylae and of the legionaries who had triumphed at Alesia – only confirmed me in my fascination: for Sparta and Rome, even when subjected to the minutest historical inquiry, did not cease to seem possessed of the qualities of an apex predator. They continued to stalk my imaginings as they had always done – like a tyrannosaur.

Yet giant carnivores, however wondrous, are by their nature terrifying. The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics, and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value. As such, the founding conviction of the Enlightenment – that it owed nothing to the faith into which most of its greatest figures had been born – increasingly came to seem to me unsustainable.

“Every sensible man,” Voltaire wrote, “every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.” Rather than acknowledge that his ethical principles might owe anything to Christianity, he preferred to derive them from a range of other sources – not just classical literature, but Chinese philosophy and his own powers of reason. Yet Voltaire, in his concern for the weak and ­oppressed, was marked more enduringly by the stamp of biblical ethics than he cared to admit. His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian. (Read more.)
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