Monday, July 24, 2017

The French Girl Myth

From W:
Such is the root of the "French girl myth," which has captured the imaginations of fashion publications, brands, and popular culture writ large ever since the days of Coco Chanel, and maybe even as far back as Marie Antoinette. We find ourselves wanting to do everything "like a French girl," simply because there is a way in which French girls do things. That is to say: there is arguably no unified sense of taste for American girls, which is, of course, ultimately what makes America the place that it is.The grass is always greener, though, and thanks to celebrated French fashion icons like Brigitte Bardot and Françoise Hardy; movies like An American In Paris and Amélie; and books like A Moveable Feast and French Women Don't Get Fat, American women entertain the idea that French woman have the innate ability to possess superior style, smaller waists, clearer skin, more complex neckties, cooler social lives, and richer romance than the rest of us—and all while putting in little to no effort. (Read more.)


From Roman Catholic Man:
In February of last year, I wrote an article that was a compilation of historical pieces to a puzzle. The title of the article was, Our Lady of Fatima, 1917-2017 – Why 100 Years Matters. It is the most shared article I have ever written, at over 61,000 shares. I did my best to piece together what I had noticed about significant events preceding and leading up to this centennial year of 2017. But, what about this centennial year?

My good friend, Emmett O’Regan, has spent years seeking to unveil scripture, prophesies, apparitions of the Blessed Mother, etc.. In fact, he wrote a book on all of this entitled, Unveiling the Apocalypse. While Emmett’s amazing book goes into mind-boggling details, I want to highlight some of the events we are about to experience during this centennial year of Fatima, many of which Emmett O’Regan has brought to my attention.

I’ve recently become aware of St. Michael’s Lent, thanks to Emmett O’Regan. St. Francis of Assisi was especially devoted to Saint Michael and would fast from the Feast of the Assumption (August 15) to Saint Michael’s Feast Day on September 29. In fact, St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata while he was praying and fasting during St. Michael’s Lent. Some Franciscan communities continue to observe the period from August 15 to September 29 as “St. Michael’s Lent”, a time of fasting and prayer. Shortly after the beginning of this year’s St. Michael’s Lent, August 21, 2017, on the Feast of Our Lady of Knock, there will be a Total Solar Eclipse that cuts across the heart of America. (Read more.)

St. Columba's Scriptorium

From Blog of the Courtier:
St. Columba (521-597 A.D.) is known as one of the “Apostles of Ireland”, and you can read a more thorough biography of him by following this link. He lived the second half of his life on the Scottish island of Iona, where he founded a hugely influential monastic community in which he served as Abbott. He spent a great deal of time during the day writing and praying in his scriptorium, which was really just a little wooden hut that he built on a rocky mound overlooking the Abbey.

Not everything on Iona was contemplative, however. St. Columba and his companions also worked actively to expand their community to become a training center for missionaries to the many pagan tribes that dominated much of the British Isles during this period. In addition, the monks at Iona not only chronicled much of early Irish history, and preserved ancient texts for their library that would otherwise have been lost to us, but they are believed by many historians to have created the famous Book of Kells, with its lavish and strange Celtic decorations. (Read more.)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

How to Grow and Use Lavender

From Veranda: "Wondering what to do with all that lavender you're growing in your yard? From soaps to scones to sprays, we rounded up several lovely ways to put your lavender to good use." (Read more.)
White Chocolate Lavender Ice Cream


QTBGL Catholics

From Crisis:
For those who may not know, “QTBGL” stands for “Quietly Totally Believing God’s Law” and is sometimes referred to more simply as “TBGL” (just Totally Believing God’s Law). Personally, I think the “Q” is an essential aspect of our community, since it’s important to recognize just how quietly we go about totally believing the fullness of truth of the Catholic faith in our daily lives.

Coming out at this moment is vitally important. Not only do I need to be utterly honest about who I really am, but the Church needs to do a better job ministering to the QTBGL Catholic in the pew, not to mention QTBGL clergy in the Church, like me. We are marginalized, unjustly discriminated against, and regularly face demeaning “orthophobia” (irrational hate for, and fear of, right-thinking Christians) not only from fellow Catholics but even from secular society.

The level of orthophobia is getting worse, in fact. Within the Church, we are called “haters” and “bigots” simply for accepting and affirming what the Church actually teaches us about liturgy, justice, virtue, and, of course, the human person and sexuality (natural law). Outside the Church, orthophobes everywhere are trying to curtail our religious liberty, take away our conscience rights, and subject us to ridicule and hate simply because of who we really are.

Yet many QTBGL Catholics really feel as though we were born this way. Or at least baptized this way. Even in the face of such orthophobic animosity and outright discrimination (some of us have even lost jobs after publicly coming out as QTBGL), we know we are being true to ourselves. We are resigned to a rather lonely life of quietly accepting each and every truth taught to us by the Church, often at great personal cost. (Read more.)

Archbishop Chaput Defends Pro-Trump Catholics

From Life Site:
On July 13, La Civiltà Cattolica, which the Vatican reviews and approves prior to publication, criticized American "value voters" who have banded with evangelicals to fight abortion and same-sex "marriage". This "strange ecumenism" fosters an "xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations," thus making it an "ecumenism of hate," Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa wrote in the article. The "ecumenism" of Pope Francis, for which they advocate, "moves under the urge of inclusion, peace, encounter and bridges," they wrote. Spadaro is a close papal collaborator and often called the pope's "mouthpiece." Figueroa, a Presbyterian pastor, runs Argentina's edition of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano

Spadaro and Figueroa's dismissal of the attacks on religious liberty in the U.S. "sounds willfully ignorant," Chaput wrote. "It also ignores the fact that America’s culture wars weren’t wanted, and weren’t started, by people faithful to constant Christian belief." The article was "an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation on religious freedom and other key issues," Chaput wrote. Chaput reminded "progressives" who are "wary" of religious liberty that religious freedom is what allows faith communities to serve the poor and "those in need."

"The divide between Catholic and other faith communities has often run deep," Chaput continued. "Only real and present danger could draw them together. The cooperation of Catholics and evangelicals was quite rare when I was a young priest. Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to so worry La Civilta Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power."

"It’s an especially odd kind of surprise when believers are attacked by their co-religionists merely for fighting for what their Churches have always held to be true," Chaput wrote. Chaput noted that earlier this month, one of the main funders of the LGBT movement said he wants to "punish" those who oppose the homosexualist agenda.

"It doesn’t take a genius to figure out whom that might include," he wrote. "Today’s conflicts over sexual freedom and identity involve an almost perfect inversion of what we once meant by right and wrong."

"There’s no way to soften or detour around the substance of Romans 1:18-32, or any of the other biblical calls to sexual integrity and virtuous conduct," the archbishop continued. Romans 1:18-32 addresses "the wrath of God." This wrath is "revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness," it says. The passage laments those who "exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever." (Read more.)

"The Beguiled" Controversy

I do wish Sofia Coppola would stop making historical films, since she omits aspects of history which are too unpleasant for her. It is a shame because she always works with the finest actors on spectacular sets. I want to love her films but instead they make me cringe. According to The Daily Iowan:
When I finally saw The Beguiled, my excitement waned after the first 15 minutes of dewy mansions and frayed petticoats. A dark fairy tale about white Southern women, with no people of color in sight? Something felt distinctly, disturbingly anachronistic about this — and it wasn’t the corsets.

It’s a trite feminist tale, beginning with the arrival of a wounded Yankee soldier (Colin Farrell) at Farnsworth Seminary (run by an imposing Nicole Kidman, populated by a host of diaphanous young actresses), and ending with the assertion of the power of the matriarchy. OK, fine. I stayed, of course, through the passion, and betrayal, and (spoiler alert) emasculating amputation, and (bigger spoiler alert) manslaughter because I wanted to know why Sofia Coppola made the darn movie in the first place. Turns out Coppola’s film is a remake of a 1971 movie by Don Siegel, which in turn was an adaptation of a 1966 novel by Thomas P. Cullinan. What?

Having never read the novel nor watched the original film, I went into the theater quite blind — like many other viewers, no doubt. I had no idea that there were two black women missing from the plot. Coppola trimmed them out like weeds to allow the white ladies to blossom. I hope my innocence and subsequent research will assist you in making the call on Coppola’s artistic choices. Some sources cry “whitewashing.” Others defend Coppola’s delicacy in tiptoeing around potentially stereotypical portrayals of black folks. Coppola, to her credit, articulated her motivations and ideas for the film in a concise essay published on IndieWire, but I’m not persuaded.

Though Coppola makes a convincing case for her gloss of slavery and erasure of black characters, she’s got a history of subtracting people of color (Bling Ring) and avoiding the messy bits of history (Marie Antoinette). Look those movies up, and you’ll see what I mean. There’s something coy, blithe, and unnervingly true to form about the way she pruned the problematic racial material from the typical plight of Southern belles pent up with their passions.

OK, back to the mysterious invisible women of The Beguiled. According to an article in Slate, Coppola combined Edwina, a biracial teenager, with Harriet Farnsworth, sister to Martha, resulting in the Edwina played by Kirsten Dunst; the slave girl Mattie (Hallie, in the Siegel film) was straight-up subtracted.

Coppola, an expert in portraying wealthy, disillusioned white women, stuck with what she knew — for better or worse. She defended herself with careful sentences about her concern with correct portrayals of slaves, her need to develop the drama between the main (white) characters, and her contempt for the stereotypes perpetuated by the original characters she excised. Coppola made one important point in this essay: Evidence does support her hazy vision of upper-class Southern white ladies isolated and altered by the ravages of war. Yes, such a phenomenon had its own intriguing struggles and maybe deserves a cinematic re-enactment. But Coppola breezes past any hint of the complicated facts of the Civil War with three damningly simple words: “The slaves left.” That’s it? Highly suspect. Slavery did not just disappear when the Union soldiers descended upon the plantations. (Read more.)
Here is a feminist review from the LA Review of Books which laments that fact that Coppola's new film about the Civil War omits showing slavery:
TRAILERS FOR The Beguiled promised something new from writer-director Sofia Coppola: edited down to two minutes, her sixth feature appeared taut, sexy, suspenseful, swift. The last half hour or so achieves those adjectives, but The Beguiled does not really try to be a thriller, and it is in at least one fundamental way standard Coppola fare. Like Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, and The Bling Ring before it, The Beguiled is a movie about bored white women in rigorous pursuit of fantasy, often because reality holds little interest for them, but also because they’ve been discouraged from serious engagement with it. Or perhaps they just haven’t been given sufficient incentive: Coppola’s protagonists suffer the boredom of feeling extraneous to their contexts. In The Bling Ring, that context was celebrity-obsessed Los Angeles; in Marie Antoinette, it was Revolutionary France; in The Beguiled, it just happens to be the American Civil War.

And for Coppola, it truly just happens to be: the film refuses the burden of politics, which is to say (in the case of the Civil War, if not in all cases) the burden of history. The Beguiled takes place entirely on the grounds of the Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies in Virginia, where a small handful of unclaimed students, the teacher Miss Edwina (Kirsten Dunst), and headmistress Miss Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) wait out the war’s end in relative isolation from its primary dramas and protagonists. Cannon fire booms in the distance; the smoke of battle peppers the skyline; and while Confederate soldiers occasionally stop at the school’s gates, only one man has any dialogue of note: Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell), a recently immigrated Irish mercenary soldier for the Union, found injured in the woods by one of the students and carried back to the school to receive Christian hospitality and medical attention. Conflicting seductions ensue.

As a number of critics have noted, every single character in The Beguiled, speaking or not, is white. The child Amy tells the Corporal in one of the opening lines of dialogue that the slaves have left — she does not say whether they’ve escaped, been emancipated, or were allowed to simply walk off the grounds — an event that never returns to consciousness for the film’s remaining 90 minutes. Coppola has said in interviews that she did not want to treat the subject of slavery lightly, presumably by sprinkling some mute black figures on the landscape. That the South’s peculiar institution might, in fact, have been central to the moral and sexual identity formation of white women does not seem to have occurred to her, or it is at least not the story Coppola wants to tell. Instead, the most vivid and unruly presences haunting the film’s periphery are non-sentient: unswept leaves cover the school’s veranda, vines creep along the upper balcony, weeds threaten the garden (now tended by the students themselves), and giant tree branches are strewn about the yard. In lingering atmospheric shots, the viewer is repeatedly reminded of nature’s slow but untamable encroachment. Likewise, and likely shocking for Coppola fans, the film features almost no soundtrack; with the exception of an occasional ambient mood piece, its main nonverbal sounds are the patter of feet and the chirping of birds. (Read more.)
 From W:
On Friday, Coppola released a statement to IndieWire defending her decision to remove the film's only black character—and to erase any trace of slavery in a Civil War-era film—starting off with the facts. "According to historians and several women’s journals from the time, many slaves had departed, and a great number of white women of the South were left in isolation, holding on to a world whose time had rightly come to an end—a world built on slave labor," Coppola wrote, calling her decisions "historically accurate." Plus, she continued: "I felt that to treat slavery as a side-plot would be insulting."

Still, a slave named Hallie was undoubtedly present both in Siegel's 1971 film and its original 1966 novel version by Thomas Cullinan. But seeing as Hallie was also the only character who "doesn't speak proper English" and whose voice is "not even grammatically transcribed," the director decided not to include her in the end. "I did not want to perpetuate an objectionable stereotype where facts and history supported my choice of setting the story of these white women in complete isolation, after the slaves had escaped," she wrote.That decision, Coppola continued, "comes from respect," as well as a desire to avoid becoming one of the "many examples" of white artists appropriating slaves and "'giving them a voice.'" Indeed, Coppola wrote she's hoping the conversation around the issue will help to avoid such situations in the future: "I sincerely hope this discussion brings attention to the industry for the need for more films from the voices of filmmakers of color and to include more points of views and histories," she added. (Read more.)


From Icy Sedgwick:
Also known as the Knacker, Bucca (Cornwall), Bwca (Wales) or Tommyknocker (US), the knockers derive from similar origins as leprechauns and brownies. Legends claim they’re only 2ft tall and live underground. They dress like miners and steal unattended food or tools. Mining was dangerous work. Poisonous gases, pools of water, and collapses provided plenty of hazards on a daily basis. If you saw the second season of Poldark, you’ll know how perilous Cornish tin mines could be. Naturally, miners were constantly alert to the sounds of cave-ins. Creaking earth or timbers would strike fear into their hearts. Such ‘knocking’ was attributed to the knockers. (Read more.)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Garden Path

 I love garden paths. Here are pictures of an enchanting garden in Texas. From Southern Living:
Broussard and his team designed the hardscape and installed it in sections, carefully developing the structures and textures that make this garden one of a kind. It's a space for meandering, and all paths lead to the leafy arbor. Broussard explains, "We needed a place for the paths to meet in an organized way. They start and end at the dining area, so it's a perfect jumping-off point to explore the landscape." The canopy is composed of four "Bradford" pear trees trained into an arch and woven together; they cast shade over the teak table below. "Coming up with the arbor was pure genius on Jackson's part, and we enjoy it throughout the seasons," Margie says."During the hot Texas summers, deciduous pears provide the benefit of a cool, shady canopy," Broussard adds. The arbor also provides some of the few seasonal color changes in the garden, as the trees' snowy white spring blooms give way to bright green leaves in summer and fiery red ones in autumn. (Read more.)

Cardinal Sarah’s Challenge

From The Catholic Herald:
The tenth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum – Pope Benedict XVI’s statute which granted priests the liberty to celebrate the “old Latin Mass”, now known as the Extraordinary Form (EF) – passed on July 7 as one would have expected. Traditional Catholics attracted to the EF were grateful for the more liberating posture of liturgical law and spoke, as they customarily do, about how the wider offering of the EF had a salutary effect on how the Novus Ordo, or Ordinary Form (OF), is celebrated.

The anniversary, though, did include an unexpected note from a most authoritative source. Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, marked the anniversary with an article in La Nef, a French publication. Not available online, it has been reported on in English by the Tablet. Cardinal Sarah wrote in favour of the “mutual enrichment” of the two forms of the Roman Rite, a phrase of Benedict XVI’s arguing that both forms have riches that would enhance the other if incorporated.

Over the past 10 years, this has been interpreted in EF circles in a mostly unilateral way: the OF ought to adapt the practices of the EF. Cardinal Sarah is certainly in favour of this – he has argued in the past for ad orientem celebration of the OF, greater use of Latin, and more periods of silence, including some of the priestly prayers. In La Nef, he goes further, recommending that Holy Communion be received kneeling and on the tongue; that the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar be restored at the beginning of Mass; and that the priests keep united after the consecration those fingers which have touched the sacred species.

All of which is music to the ears of those devoted to the EF. But the key concept Cardinal Sarah advanced may sound a challenge too. Sarah suggested that the expression “reform of the reform” be abandoned precisely because it has a unilateral connotation – the Novus Ordo ought to be enriched by the traditional liturgy only.

“ ‘Reform of the reform’ has become synonymous with dominance of one clan over the other,” the cardinal wrote in French. “This expression may then become inappropriate, so I prefer to speak of liturgical reconciliation. In the Church, the Christian has no opponent!” Reconciliation means movement from both “clans”, as it were. That is likely to encounter opposition from some, perhaps many, traditionalist quarters. (Read more.)

America's Most Popular Heresy

From ChurchPop:
First off, nowhere in the Christian Scriptures are we told to be nice. We are told be to be humble, merciful, compassionate, bold, courageous, holy, strong, loving, and whole host of other things. But never merely nice. And let’s be honest, nice is a really low bar. MTD is a plea to be inoffensive. It is why all religions can be the same. The goal isn’t holiness, it’s being nice. It is believing in nothing so strongly that one triggers no one. It is theological milquetoast. Our Catholic faith calls for us to be virtuous, strong, courageous, and so willing to love as God loves that we will lay down our lives, embrace sacrifice and suffering, and be heroic. Our Catholic faith produces knights and ladies, not snowflakes and SJWs. (Read more.)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Summer Lights

From Southern Lady: 
As the sun slips below the horizon, the shadows of dusk try to nudge us inside, but what we really want is to linger a little longer in this blissful summer weather. Here are a few of our favorite ways to extend the evening in brilliant and stylish ways...Simple-yet-chic designs by Southern artisan extraordinaire Natalie Chanin inspired an outdoor tableau to usher in the first days of fall. The happy gathering is bound to last into the evening, so hang pierced-tin lanterns among the branches to light the area when the sun begins to fade. (Read more.)

On Vacation Bible School

From The Federalist:
These programs are written and produced by Christians with good intentions, but the baseline bait n’ switch philosophy is perverse, like trying to get your child to eat vegetables by embedding them in a Twinkie. Sure, the child will hear some good things about God, but the medium of the message—the razzle-dazzle theme, characterless music, throwaway crafts, forced theatrics, the theological minimalism—is what the child internalizes.

The deeper message conveyed is that what is meant to be an eternal truth is derivative, unserious, inauthentic, forgettable, commercial, frivolous, and cheap. Based on the evidence, millennials figured out how to nibble at the bait and leave the hook bare. To speak generally, the medium of the message becomes its own catechesis, catechizing children in the forms of pop culture. The shallow entertainment value of attention-grabbing imagery and soundtracks keeps the soul bopping around from thought to thought, preventing any sort of serious reflective thinking. Yes, even four-year-olds are capable of reflective thinking!

Meanwhile, the focus on the phantasmic—commercially generated themes, images, and archetypes—undermines what is meant to be a Logos-based faith consisting of organized and systematic thought. Yes, kids can learn about concepts like sin, redemption, and the Incarnation! Finally, the programs’ essential ephemerality encultures children in a throwaway culture, suggesting implicitly that the faith is one of the passing fads to grow out of, rather than an eternal truth to grow into. Yes (goodness!), children yearn for steady, eternal things in their lives! (Read more.)

Abu Simbel

From Ancient History:
Abu Simbel is a temple complex, originally cut into a solid rock cliff, in southern Egypt and located at the second cataract of the Nile River. The two temples which comprise the site (The Great Temple and The Small Temple) were created during the reign of Ramesses II (c. 1279 - c. 1213 BCE) either between 1264 - 1244 BCE or 1244-1224 BCE. The discrepancy in the dates is due to differing interpretations of the life of Ramesses II by modern day scholars. It is certain, based upon the extensive art work throughout the interior of the Great Temple, that the structures were created, at least in part, to celebrate Ramesses' victory over the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE. To some scholars, this indicates a probable date of 1264 BCE for the initial construction as the victory would have been fresh in the memory of the people. However, the decision to build the grand monument at that precise location, on the border with the conquered lands of Nubia, suggests to other scholars the later date of 1244 BCE in that it would have had to have been begun after the Nubian Campaigns Ramesses II undertook with his sons and was built as a symbol of Egypt's power. (Read more.)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cristo Velato

From Aleteia:
Although Corradini was in fact commissioned with the job in the first place, he died having only produced a clay model for what would later be a definitive piece sculpted in marble. It was Giuseppe Sammartino, then, who ended up producing the astonishing sculpture of a dead Jesus, covered by a transparent shroud carved out of the very same marble block shared with the rest of the statue. Sammartino’s mastery – the veil covering the figure of Jesus being in fact “transparent” — didn’t only gain him a well-deserved place in the history of Western art, but also turned his artwork into the stuff of legend.

Some stories claim Sammartino covered his sculpture with a linen veil he managed to transform into marble by means of complex chemical-alchemical processes. Those very same legends would also claim that Raimondo di Sangro, the commissioner of the sculpture, was himself an alchemist who taught Sammartino the mysteries of his pseudo-science. Of course, these are but legends. (Read more.)

“Service Trips” and Voluntourism

From the Almost Doctor's Channel:
Do you want to feel fulfilled? Do you want to “Be the change you wish to see in the world?” How about adding some international healthcare experience to your residency applications? The common theme in those sentences is “you”. But it shouldn’t be about you, it should be about the people you’re there to help.

My least favorite but most common response when asking someone about their micro-trip abroad goes something like this: I was heartbroken to see how life is there. It really makes me realize just how good we have it. My life will never be the same.” (*Rolls eyes*)

If you truly want this experience — to change your world perspective, etc. — then at least call it like it is and admit you’re going on a self-fulfillment trip. Don’t call it humanitarian work when the only human benefiting from this experience is you.

As Al Jazeera America points out, “As admirably altruistic as it sounds, the problem with voluntourism is its singular focus on the volunteer’s quest for experience, as opposed to the recipient community’s actual needs.”

Ask yourself this: Do you want to go help, or do you want the people to be helped? If you honestly care more about the latter, then understand that the best way to help a community may not involve you personally traveling to it. Unskilled, short-term voluntourists often do very little to actually help a community develop in a sustainable manner. (Read more.)

Love, Needlework and Alexander Hamilton

From Two Nerdy History Girls:
True love, a war-time memento, and virtuoso needlework: inspiration doesn't get much better for me than that! This elaborately embroidered mat was stitched by a young woman in Albany, NY in 1780, specifically to surround the miniature portrait of her fiancé. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

The mat is worked in silk and metallic (now tarnished) threads, with metallic bobbin lace (also now tarnished) framing the miniature. The lace may have been a costly import - perhaps it had originally trimmed a gown - or it may have been worked by the young woman herself. The harmony of the design, the elegantly shaded colors, and the precision of the stitches all indicate that she possessed considerable skill with her needle as well as a flair for design.

There's also little doubt that this was a labor of love whose sheer exuberance (imagine how brilliant it must have been when the colors were still fresh and the metallic threads glittered!) threatens to overwhelm the tiny miniature, which is less than two inches in height. You can just tell that the young woman was dreaming of her beloved with every stitch she took. Perhaps she even kept the miniature nearby as inspiration.

Who were these two sweethearts? The needleworker was Elizabeth Schuyler, 22, and her fiancé was Lt. Colonel Alexander Hamilton, 23, who was serving in the Continental Army as an aide-de-camp to Commander-in-Chief Gen. George Washington. In 1780, the American Revolution was dragging through its sixth year, with no resolution in sight. The war had brought these two together - they had become engaged during the army's winter encampment earlier in the year - just as it also kept them apart during the summer and fall. Both had hoped for a quick wedding, but Alexander's military duties forced them to postpone their marriage until shortly before Christmas, 1780. (Read more.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


From the Times-Picayune:
When life in the palace of Versailles with Louis and their four kids got to be too much, Marie Antoinette slipped away to the Petit Trianon, a quaint (by royal standards) cottage in the garden. Two-hundred-plus years later, women across America have found the young queen was onto something. Today, "she sheds" -- small outbuildings women have created for their own purposes -- are fast becoming the new "it" structures. "The term she shed was barely on the radar two years ago," said Erika Kotite, author of "She Sheds: A Room of Your Own" (Cool Springs Press, January 2017). "Today a Google search surfaces millions of hits. Pinterest is on fire with she-shed content, and last year, a new TV series called "He Shed, She Shed" came out on FYI Network" -- all in response to a pent-up need for some private space. (Read more.)

Controversial Observations

From Robert Royal:

There is something like an emerging theocracy in the United States, with a Manichean vision. But it’s the theocracy of sexual absolutism that cannot tolerate pluralism or dissent. The Little Sisters of the Poor, Hobby Lobby, evangelical bakers, anyone who stands up to the contraception-abortion-“gay-marriage” (and now) “transgender” juggernaut risks legal jeopardy and accusations of being a “hate group.” (Spadaro and Figueroa echo this claim, saying the Evangelical-Catholic alliance represents a xenophobic, Islamophobic, purist vision that is really an “ecumenism of hate.”)

Fighting the sexual theocracy is imperative, for believers and non-believers alike who care about liberty and the common good in a pluralist society. The courts have – so far – found for defenders of religious liberty, largely Catholics and Evangelicals. But that such cases even have to be brought tells us who is really trying to impose a kind of totalitarianism on America. Most traditional Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, and others would be happy, at this point, to be just left alone.

All this is invisible to Spadaro and Figueroa, or is dismissed as a cover for something sinister. They know not the heart of American Evangelicalism, which is generally closer to the thoughtfulness of a Russell Moore than to blind Fundamentalism (which is why we use two different terms for the two groupings). Their labeling American Catholic conservatives as “integralists” is another slander and a sloppy misapplication of a term from one period of European history to something else entirely. They could easily have learned this.

The authors claim that Pope Francis has outlined an alternative to “militant” Christianity. But their obsession with “dialogue” over these matters is a plausible strategy only to people who have never had to confront the sharp edge of the culture war. And believe they can go on avoiding it forever. They can’t. (Read more.)

The Tapestries of Dom Robert

From France Today:
Many of the tapestries are monumental: bold and mesmerizing works of art. Nature was readily the inspiration for Dom Robert, born in 1907 and deceased in 1997. He was a monk at the Abbaye d’En-Calcat in the neighbouring commune of Dourgne, and demonstrated his keen attachment to nature with his numerous sketches and watercolors. In 1941, the tapestry artist Jean Lurçat made the acquaintance of Dom Robert and was touched by his highly original and sensitive work.

 Encouraged by Lurçat, Dom Robert worked up patterns to begin the process of creating tapestries. From 1942 to 1992, he created close to 150 tapestries, most fabricated by the Goubely atelier in Aubusson, which helped to revive tapestry manufacturing. I found the process Dom Robert used of transferring the designs into numbered patterns for the weavers to follow, truly mind boggling. There is an exhibit room set up showing how this process was achieved with a multitude of minuscule color changes made for the exacting patterns. Sitting before some of these majestic tapestries was a meditation on the power and wonder of nature. His lyrical quality creates a unique symphony of line and colour that plays to the inner child and soul. The disappointment came when the guard advised us it was time to leave; the museum closes promptly at 6 pm. (Read more.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Return to Versailles

From Madame Guillotine:
A visit to Versailles is always a massive treat and especially so when you’re there with someone special who has never been before and so get a chance to show off all your special history and art history knowledge to a (mostly) captive audience! I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Versailles six times now, first going there in 1989 when I travelled to Paris for the bicentenary of the French Revolution, and feel like I have been privileged to see the palace grow, change, develop and even blossom over the decades since that first amazing visit. I remember that back in the late eighties, Versailles was a lot more rough and battered around the edges than it is now – it was still stunning, of course, and jaw droppingly magnificent but there was much less of the building open to the public and it definitely lacked the contemporary slickness that today’s palace enjoys thanks to the €500 million renovation currently underway to refurbish the rooms, make more of the palace accessible to visitors and also modernise the facilities. (Read more.)

American Reds, Soviet Stooges

From The New York Times:
From its founding in 1919 in the wake of the Russian Revolution until the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Communist Party of the United States of America was an instrument of Soviet foreign policy. The Communist International, or Comintern, which was set up under Lenin in 1919 and then disbanded by Stalin in 1943 as a gesture of unity to his World War II allies, regularly sent delegates to oversee the C.P.U.S.A. and transmitted orders from Moscow dictating who should lead the American party and what policies it should pursue.

The dissolution of the Comintern did not end Soviet control over the C.P.U.S.A. Supervision was simply transferred to the newly formed international department of the Soviet Union’s own Communist party.

At certain times, this Soviet domination was blatant. In both 1929 and 1945, Moscow demanded, and got, a change of party leadership. Jay Lovestone had the support of 90 percent of the party members in 1929, but his support for the Bolshevik Nikolai Bukharin led Stalin to remove Lovestone as the American party’s general secretary. When, at a hearing chaired by Stalin himself, Lovestone and several of his lieutenants refused to back down, Stalin angrily denounced them and turned the C.P.U.S.A. over to its factional opponents. When the Lovestoneites set up a dissident movement, fewer than 200 American Communists joined.

Later, Lovestone’s Stalin-approved successor, Earl Browder, concluded that the American-Soviet alliance of World War II would continue after the defeat of Nazi Germany. For this reason, in 1944, he boldly engineered the transformation of the C.P.U.S.A. into a pressure group designed to work within the Democratic Party. When Browder refused to accept Soviet criticism of his policies the following year, he, too, was unceremoniously removed — expelled from the party for his heresy. (Read more.)

On the Importance of Hugs

From Newsner:
The more you hug a baby, the more their brains grow, according to a recent survey from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio. 125 babies, both premature and full-term, were included in the study, which looked at how well they reponded to being physically touched. The results indicated that premature babies responded to affection less than babies who were not born premature. What was also revealed however, was that babies that were subjected to more affection by parents or hospital staff showed stronger brain response.

According to researcher Dr. Nathalie Maitre, this last revelation tells us that something as simple as body contact or rocking your baby in your arms will make a big difference in how their brains develop."Making sure that preterm babies receive positive, supportive touch such as skin-to-skin care by parents is essential to help their brains respond to gentle touch in ways similar to those of babies who experienced an entire pregnancy inside their mother's womb," Maitre tells Science Daily. (Read more.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Quiet Corners of Paris

Marie-Antoinette never played milk maid although she would wear simple attire when visiting the farm. From the LA Times:
Visit the grand Château de Versailles where the Sun King and his 20,000 courtiers lived, dined and entertained. But be sure to leave time for the outdoor spaces — the formal gardens, the royal waterways and fountains, and the Petit Trianon and hameau, or hamlet, where Marie Antoinette acted out her desires to be just like everyone else. In a quiet area of meadowland, ponds, rolling hills and woods, she built little thatched-roof houses, an octagonal belvedere and a classical Temple of Love. Here on the “farm” she could dress as a milkmaid and feed the sheep and goats. (Read more.)

The Demise of Journalistic Standards

From Imprimis:
It’s not exactly breaking news that most journalists lean left. I used to do that myself. I grew up at The New York Times, so I’m familiar with the species. For most of the media, bias grew out of the social revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. Fueled by the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, the media jumped on the anti-authority bandwagon writ large. The deal was sealed with Watergate, when journalism was viewed as more trusted than government—and far more exciting and glamorous. Think Robert Redford in All the President’s Men. Ever since, young people became journalists because they wanted to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, find a Deep Throat, and bring down a president. Of course, most of them only wanted to bring down a Republican president. That’s because liberalism is baked into the journalism cake.

During the years I spent teaching at the Columbia University School of Journalism, I often found myself telling my students that the job of the reporter was “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I’m not even sure where I first heard that line, but it still captures the way most journalists think about what they do. Translate the first part of that compassionate-sounding idea into the daily decisions about what makes news, and it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that every person afflicted by something is entitled to help. Or, as liberals like to say, “Government is what we do together.” From there, it’s a short drive to the conclusion that every problem has a government solution.

The rest of that journalistic ethos—“afflict the comfortable”—leads to the knee-jerk support of endless taxation. Somebody has to pay for that government intervention the media loves to demand. In the same vein, and for the same reason, the average reporter will support every conceivable regulation as a way to equalize conditions for the poor. He will also give sympathetic coverage to groups like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. (Read more.)

The Tragic Death of Mary of Burgundy

From History of Royal Women:
Mary was born in Brussels as the only child of Charles the Bold and Isabella of Bourbon, and she was thus the heiress of the Burgundian territories, and she became suo jure Duchess of Burgundy in 1477 at the death of her father. Her father died in the Battle of Nancy on 5 January 1477. When her father succeeded in the duchy of Burgundy, Mary became an attractive marriage prospect. She received several offers of marriage, starting at the age of five with the future Ferdinand II of Aragon.

She eventually married Archduke Maximillian of Austria on 16 August 1477. They had two children together. The first was Philip the Handsome (22 July 1477 – 25 September 1506) who became Philip I of Castile due to his marriage to Joanna of Castile. Her second child was a daughter named Margaret (10 January 1480 – 1 December 1530), who married first to Juan, Prince of Asturias and second to Philibert II, Duke of Savoy. Her husband went on to become Holy Roman Emperor in 1508. (Read more.)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Anniversary of the Murder of the Romanovs

 It is 99 years since the night of July 16-17, 1918 when Tsar Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsarevitch Alexis, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and three of their retainers were shot by the Bolsheviks in a cellar in Ekaterinburg.

Melinda Gates Has No Clue

From Daily Wire:
Melinda Gates, the wife of billionaire and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, may hail from a Catholic family, but like most Catholics of her era, the post-1960's "Jesus is my pal" types, she has no idea how Catholicism works when it comes to its core teachings on morality.

We know them all: abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and divorce. Catholicism, going all the way back to St. Paul, has equally condemned all of these as morally wrong and has forbidden their practice.

Catholicism has taught this for over 2,000 years because human nature never changes, no matter if we ride around on a horse and chariot or a Lexus convertible. Human beings are the same now as they were back when gladiators impaled each other as adoring crowds cheered them on; the more blood the merrier.

Human nature never changes, which is why child sacrifice went from an extinct institution to being suddenly fashionable again (I'm looking at you, Planned Parenthood).

Despite the overwhelming evidence that the Catholic Church has taught these moral precepts from its inception, Cafeteria "Catholics" and former Catholics like Melinda Gates still hold to the  presumption that the Church will magically change their teaching on these issues because the "times have changed" and the majority demands it. (Read more.)

The Gender Game

From The Federalist:
A 13-year-old seventh grade girl committed suicide just before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. When the Alabama youth was halfway through sixth grade, she publicly identified as a boy, “Jay,” with the support of family and school. In addition to gender identity struggles, Jay’s mother says Jay battled depression and anxiety. “We were under the care of a psychologist from day one,” she says in an interview with

The LGBTQ lobby tell parents they must support and affirm their child’s transgender journey to prevent the child from attempting suicide. As this tragic case demonstrates, however, it’s an open question whether supporting a child’s gender switch adds stress rather than reducing it. In this case, the parents fully affirmed and supported her gender transition, yet tragically, depression led to suicide.

 Children are encouraged, affirmed and assisted in “coming out” as transgendered without one word about the consequences of the dangerous game of “gender make-believe.” Today, the politically correct response expected from adults, especially parents, is to affirm the child in the desired gender. But affirmation gives young people false hope that they can really become a different gender. It’s a lie—a lie told with compassionate motives, but a lie nonetheless. Lying is not compassion. (Read more.)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Raine, Countess Spencer

From The Irish Times:
Born in 1929, with the proverbial silver spoon, she was, reputedly, seen as an infant by the young Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth who observed: “What a lovely, fat baby”. Raine grew up to be voted ‘Debutante of the Year’ during ‘the Season’ in 1947 and, the following year, married the future Earl of Dartmouth. She dabbled in politics and was elected a councillor for the Conservative Party in London having canvassed voters dressed in her jewellery and furs. Her obituary in ‘The Daily Telegraph’ noted that until the late 1960s - at the height of ‘Swinging London’ - she still had “a footman wearing white gloves in attendance at even the most informal lunch”.

She divorced her husband in 1976 and swapped one earldom for another - by marrying the also-divorced 8th Earl Spencer. She nursed him for years after he suffered a stroke but also, controversially, funded a redecoration of Althorp, the Spencer estate in Northamptonshire, by selling some of the family heirlooms. She was reputedly disliked by Earl Spencer’s children who cruelly dubbed her ‘Acid Raine’. That didn’t prevent her attending the fairy-tale wedding of her step-daughter Diana to Prince Charles in 1981.

Earl Spencer died in 1992 and Raine was forced to leave Althorp. She remarried, for the final time, a year later, the French aristocrat, the Comte de Chambrun - but the marriage didn’t last. She died in London in October 2016 and was survived by three sons and a daughter from her first marriage. (Read more.)

Are Ipads Dangerous?

From Some Daily:

It’s ten years since the publication of my book, Toxic Childhood, which warned of the dangers of too much screen-time on young people’s physical and mental health. My fears have been realised. Though I was one of the first to foresee how insidiously technology would penetrate youngsters’ lives, even I’ve been stunned at how quickly even the tiniest have become slaves to screens – and how utterly older ones are defined by their virtual personas.
Indeed, when my book came out, Facebook had just hit our shores and we were more concerned with violent video games and children watching too much TV. Seems like ancient history, doesn’t it? Today, on average, children spend five to six hours a day staring at screens. And they’re often on two or more screens at once – for example, watching TV while playing on an iPad. Because technology moves so fast, and children have embraced it so quickly, it’s been difficult for parents to control it. And when it comes to spending a childhood in front of a screen, this generation are like lab rats. The long-term impact is not known. Even before iPads hit the market in 2010, experts were warning that 80 per cent of children arrived at school with poor co-ordination, due to a sedentary lifestyle. (Read more.)

Make Your Bed!

From Kevin Lee Jacobs:
For some of you, making the bed every morning might seem a total waste of time. I, however, have found the routine to be both aesthetically and psychologically beneficial. The details:

Making the bed brings an instant sense of accomplishment. And this little “win” can lead to even bigger wins! You’ll feel equipped to unravel the secrets of the universe. Or, at the very least, to pick up the socks that litter the bedroom floor. My day doesn’t begin until I’ve made my bed.

Wanna get a good night’s sleep? Make your bed first thing in the morning! A tidy bedroom emits restful, positive energy, or what the Chinese call good “feng shui.”   That is, unless you have a television in your bedroom. Electronic devices produce negative, nervous energy. If at all possible, banish such appliances from the room. A tidy bedroom will make you feel empowered, man. Before you know it, you’ll feel inspired to tidy up the rest of the house. No matter what anyone tells you, a cluttered room doesn’t look “lived in.” It just looks…cluttered. (Read more.)

Friday, July 14, 2017

France Helps America

Here is a reminder that it was not the French Republic which helped America win her independence but King Louis XVI, whose overthrow many people celebrate today. From The Blaze:
Following U.S. diplomats Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane and Arthur Lee’s meeting with King Louis XVI in December 1776, King Louis XVI announced today that France would officially join the United States’ war effort against Great Britain.

The French formally acknowledged the United States and their decision to ally with them against the British, and signed what they called The Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which recognized the States as an independent nation. The treaty also encouraged further trade between France and the States.

The Treaty of Amity and Commerce was directly followed by the The Treaty of Alliance, which formed a military alliance against Great Britain with the stipulations that the States would not accept peace with Great Britain that did not include their independence, and that the French would be allowed to conquer the British West Indies. Before France’s entry into the war, the European nation — for over a year — has been rumored to be providing U.S. soldiers with armaments and supplies.

After many months of deliberation, King Louis XVI — initially a skeptic of the colonies’ fledgling republic — made the decision to ally with U.S forces. Sources close to the king say that his blatant hostility toward the British won out over his skepticism of the military viability of the Continental Army.

The French was also reportedly concerned that the French Navy was insufficient and thusly unprepared to enter a war against the British. As a result, sources say that King Louis XVI was reluctant to put the French economy in further debt.

However, the Battles of Saratoga, fought in 1777, were a turning point in convincing King Louis XVI to join the war effort against Great Britain. After British Gen. John Burgoyne launched an attack against Gen. Horatio Gates and his American forces in the first battle of Saratoga in September 1777, King Louis was convinced of the States’ ability to stand on its own two feet after British forces were defeated and surrendered in October 1777.

Leading up to the King’s official announcement that the French would back the States’ efforts, French foreign minister Charles Gravier had decided that French forces should enter the war after the city of Philadelphia fell to British control in September 1777. Gravier’s decision was as a result of fear that the States would not win the war against the British  without French intervention. (Read more.)
Louis XVI

Return to Paris

From the Irish Times:
Philippe is one of a plethora of restaurants and cafes along Le Carreau, in this now increasingly popular quartier for Les Bobos (French hipsters) in HoMa (Haut Marais). We lived here a few years ago, when such an American acronym would have been deemed as impossible as the existence of a vegetarian restaurant, but this weekend we found tea houses, gourmet burger bars and even vegan pizza on offer in the area. Times change: there are fewer tourists in Paris, waiters speak smiling English with enthusiasm; needs must. We lived on Boulevard Voltaire, along the axis of protest between Place de la Republique and Bastille, just along from Rue Oberkampf. Happily the area is visibly shaking off the legacy of events and getting on with its vibrant multicultural life.

Up the left below the hill is the beginning of Canal Saint Martin with its wonderful wrought iron footbridges, Hotel du Nord of the movie fame, and Quai de Valmy where Chez Prune is the perfect spot for a cafe. Meccano Bar and Cafe Charbon on Oberkampf are still drinks and brunch meccas for the Bobos, along with tons of new establishments to sample as you meander toward Père Lachaise Cemetery to visit the lipstick kissed grave of Oscar Wilde, as well as those of Simone de Beauvoir and Jim Morrison.

The canal heads somewhat disappointingly underneath Boulevard Richard Lenoir, a mostly dull perfunctory residential and commercial stretch, on its journey to emerge magically as a basin beyond Bastille. But, the stretch is host to the best markets in Paris. Thursdays and Sundays it has the city’s biggest fresh food market; perfect for Air BnBers, aparthoteliers or just a picnic. Occasional Sundays host the brocante or random antiquities market. (I got an ancient Paris Monopoly there.)
The magnificent Place des Vosges, one of the oldest squares in Paris, is just off the other side of Boulevard Beaumarchais; perfect for eating your picnic fare in the garden of the Sun King. You are now deep in super-chic Le Marais, the pre-revolutionary marsh area.

While there, pop into the cour of the Hôtel de Sully or head back along the chichi boutiques of Rue des Francs-Bourgeois and take a right up to Rue Thorigny and the Musée Picasso. If you hit peak-art, and happen to have table tennis bats with you, head around the back to the small park on Rue Vieille du Temple with a permanent ping-pong table. So you can slice a serve while eyeing Picasso’s goats between the horns. (Go Sports on Place de La Republique sell table tennis sets.)

Boulevard Beaumarchais surely deserves the most improved award for an artery in the area. ‘Merci’, the eclectic, expensive yet philanthropic boutique shop and cafe has raised the bar and others have followed. Grazie and Le Beaumarchais (original!) are terribly trendy and this new brunch thing has really caught on. Américains indeed.

I mentioned vegetarian restaurants because, as the partner of a veggie, we both still have memories of being a) politely but firmly ushered off a premises after an enquiry for veggie food, and b) refused a request for the meat dish without the meat but with the gratin dauphinois. Non.

The latter incident happened in Le Clown Bar, where Beaumarchais and Rue Amelot connect. It seems highly unlikely to occur now since it reinvented itself in 2014 with a new modern hipster French menu, an example of the increasing gentrification of the area.

Next door, Le Cirque d’Hiver, the permanent winter circus run by the Bouglione family, defiantly survives the digi-entertainment age. Le Cirque bar also remains, where fully made-up clowns can be seen enjoying a quick break from the ring, with a verre and a smoke, their giant shoes crossed over. We enjoyed an evening glass next door outside the new Pasdeloup cocktail bar, where they serve popcorn and cauliflower pierogi, if you don’t mind. (You get the trendification picture.)

We noticed the traditional alimentations or corner groceries are rapidly disappearing to be replaced by wine delicatessens and galleries. All this gentrification is offset by the fact that cheaper accommodation is now a real thing. Smaller cheaper hotels are noticeable and let’s face it, you don’t really visit Paris to stay in your room or have the tepid coffee and bouncy croissant petit dejeuner. (Read more.)

Meanwhile, the Hotel de Crillon is open for business. More HERE. Share

Great Commission

From Daniel Mitsui:
The treasures of Christian art and architecture are today endangered: by indifference and neglect, by misguided renovation, by war and revolution. They may be preserved for a time for the sake of national identity or lofty but indifferentist notions of cultural worth. But the Lindisfarne Gospels and Chartres Cathedral are things of this world, and will not last forever: Rust and moth consume, thieves break in and steal. More tragic than to lose such treasures is to lose the ability to make them; more tragic yet is to lose the desire to make them. That desire can only be provided by religious faith. It is religious faith that animates the traditions, that makes them live rather than linger.

It is the natural province of the Catholic Church to safeguard art and culture, even art and culture made by the foes of Ecclesia. The Catholic Church can welcome the genius of every nation and attune it to harmony. The need to do this should be felt in the present day, even more than at the time of Cassiodorus. Destructive forces are ascendant in all nations; all culture is at risk.

That includes, perhaps most especially, the historic art and architecture of Islamdom. Many Christians ignore differences within Islamdom and regard all of its culture as that of a common enemy. But many great works of Ottoman art were influenced by Sufi mysticism. The Safavids, under whom the stunning mosques of Isfahan were built and decorated, and under whom miniature painting flourished, were Shia. The Mughals built grand funerary monuments. Aspects of these cultures and their art are condemned as heretical and idolatrous by growing fundamentalist movements within Islamdom, and marked for destruction as readily as churches. In Saudi Arabia, for example, historic buildings and cemeteries are being razed and replaced with bare and empty constructions that express a different theological outlook. (Read more.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Liberating Marriage in an Age of Heresy: St. Hildegard of Bingen and Reform in the 12th Century

In the eleven hundredth year after the Incarnation of Christ, the teaching and fiery justice of the Apostles, which Christ had established among the Christians and spiritual people, began to slow down and to turn into hesitation. I was born in those times. —St. Hildegard

I cry, I cry, I cry again....The religion of Christ, the true faith, has fallen so low that it is an object of scorn not only to the devil, but to Jews and Saracens, and pagans....These keep their law, as they believe it, but we, intoxicated with the love of the world, have deserted our law....I have labored with all my might that the Holy Church, the Bride of God, our mistress and our mother, should recover her honor and remain chaste, and free, and Catholic. —Pope St. Gregory VII

Reid J. Turner's second book, Liberating Marriage in an Age of Heresy, examines the great twelfth century scholar and mystic St. Hildegard von Bingen, recently declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI. When a saint is declared a Doctor of the Church, it essentially means their writings are canonized. Now that St. Hildegard is acknowledged as a Doctor we may expect a continuing re-examination of her works within the context of modern scholarship. Reid Turner's books each reflect briefly but persuasively upon the prophetic and theological writings of the enigmatic German Benedictine abbess in the light of contemporary times. In Liberating Marriage Turner looks upon St. Hildegard's defense of marriage from the various and sundry medieval corruptions of the sacred institution, including child marriages, incest, and the general licentiousness spread by Catharism. St. Hildegard made it clear that people should not marry before reaching the age of fecundity. (p. 94) Furthermore, the strict consanguinity laws of the medieval Church were to protect young people, who often lived in close quarters with various relatives, from becoming victims of an incestuous union, by making it illicit for anything closer than fourth or fifth cousins to marry. (pp 53-57) In the Middle Ages, many Christians viewed fornication between single people as being a venial sin, in spite of the fact that the Church categorized it as mortally sinful. (p.66) The moral issues were not unlike those of our own times.

As for the Gnostic belief system known as Catharism, in which practitioners believed that there were two gods, a good and a bad, St. Hildegard denounced it in the strongest terms. The Cathars thought that the created, material world was evil, that the body was evil, and therefore all sexual activity, and especially conceiving a child, was sinful. They encouraged both contraception and sodomy. Some scholars today think that the Cathars were more favorable to women than Catholics but St. Hildegard did not see it that way and excoriated them in ways that today would get her accused of committing a hate crime. (pp 47-51)

On a positive note, the saint's magnificent words on the "holy love" of true matrimony are quoted extensively. The book is short but bursting with fascinating information about medieval views of love and sin. It became clear to me that the doctrines of the Church, as they continued to be clarified by reforming popes, were meant to protect women and children from the abuses of lust as well as those of material and political gain. As we know, the teachings were often ignored in the face of worldly expediency. Nevertheless, St. Hildegard's voice is one that is as relevant now as it was nine hundred years ago.

  (The book was sent to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.)


Feminism and Unhappiness

From The Daily Wire:
So what's to blame for this onslaught of college-educated yet terribly empty women? The short answer is feminism. The author of the study, Marcia Inhorn, an anthropology professor at Yale University, concludes that the common assumption about women putting off children to advance their careers is mere myth. The 150 women undergoing the egg-freezing process in the U.S. and  Israel who were extensively interviewed for the study, claimed they were not putting off having a family in order to advance their career, but because they simply couldn't find a mate.

Inhorn blames the problem on a shortage of college-educated men. "There is a major gap — they are literally missing men. There are not enough college graduates for them. In simple terms, this is about an oversupply of educated women,” she says. (Read more.)

In Praise of Daphne du Maurier

From The New York Times:
Why do we love du Maurier so? There’s an element of nostalgia, to be sure, for the books we read when we were young and impatient not to be. Her novels, in particular, reify adulthood. Youth is treated as an embarrassing if unavoidable affliction, thankfully temporary.

There is the pleasure of her plots, those marvelously efficient machines. Like Wilkie Collins before her and Sarah Waters today, du Maurier had a preternatural understanding of how to engineer suspense; she knew how to make you wait and want and when to deliver the final blow. “The Birds,” her short story that was the basis for the Hitchcock film, is such a perfect piece of narrative tension, it feels less written than administered; it acts upon you with unerring, hypodermic efficiency.

But plot alone can’t explain why we return to “Rebecca,” which even its most fervent fans will admit is cribbed from “Jane Eyre” (mousy heroine, aloof love interest, his inconvenient first wife, a very convenient fire). It is the charismatic, ruthless Rebecca herself — the vanished first wife, with her beautiful face and boyish body — who obsesses the narrator, and the reader. It’s Rachel from “My Cousin Rachel” and Nurse Ansel from “The Blue Lenses”: alluring, confounding characters, impossible to classify as victims, saviors or executioners. They are riddles and remain so, but how precisely they are observed.

Few writers have watched and captured women with such conspicuous pleasure as du Maurier — the way they walk and wear coats and unscrew their earrings. The way they pin up their hair and stub out their cigarettes; the way they call to their dogs, break horses, comfort children, deceive their husbands and coax plants from flinty soil. Few writers (Elena Ferrante comes to mind) have been so aware of how women excite one another’s imaginations. (Read more.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July ~ When The Hours Are So Still That Time Forgets Them

From Totus Tuus:
When the heat like a mist-veil floats,
And poppies flame in the rye,
And the silver note in the streamlet's throat
Has softened almost to a sigh,
It is July.
When the hours are so still that time
Forgets them, and lets them lie
'Neath petals pink till the night stars wink
At the sunset in the sky,
It is July.
  -Susan Hartley Swett
(Read more.) Share