Sunday, March 31, 2019

Lydia Courteille’s New Jewelry Collection

It is said to be inspired by Marie-Antoinette although in some of the pieces I have trouble seeing the connection. From JCK Online:
It’s easy to see how the sale of Marie Antoinette’s jewels at auction last fall, and current discussions about women in roles of power, could influence an accomplished Parisian designer like Lydia Courteille to introduce a collection based on the infamous French queen. But it’s how Courteille uses this inspiration to explore the dark side of Marie Antoinette’s story, specifically her epic fall from grandeur to disgrace, that makes the jewelry so intriguingly unexpected. It is not quite the gilded, beribboned, pastry-laden extravaganza that Sofia Coppola gave us in 2006’s Marie Antoinette, but rather something a little more Tim Burton in its expression—albeit with a resplendent haute joaillerie slant.

Launched last week during Paris Fashion Week, the collection encompasses soft Cinderella blues and golden sunshine yellows, a palette that gradually deepens and darkens, as a piece of ripe fruit loses its pigment to the shades of bruising and decay. Spiders (a favorite Courteille motif in general) creep in as they might have infested Marie Antoinette’s dank prison cell at the Conciergerie. (Read more.)

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In Defense of Distributism

From Complete Christianity:
Some of the worst critics of Distributism are Catholics, and by that I mean Catholics who give a free pass to the Laissez-faire mindset of the Austrian school of economics. Among Catholics, especially Traditional Catholics, there are two schools of thought. The first is distributist. This is by far the oldest and the one most commonly supported by the social encyclicals of the popes during the 19th and 20th century. To be clear, the popes never put a stamp of approval on any economic system, but anyone who studies their encyclicals can clearly see that distributism is the system that attempts to most comply with papal teaching. The other school of thought among Traditional Catholics is the Austrian school of economics, which has the most money and backing promoting it. This is more of a modern capitalism approach, based on as little government intervention in the marketplace as possible, allowing big corporations to set the rules. The purpose of this essay is not to engage in a debate. I’ve tried to debate Catholics on this and I’ve found it to be a dead-end street. I can no more persuade them, than they can persuade me. Rather, in this essay, I’m going to engage in a clarification, which I hope will at least open non-distributist Catholics to the idea that distributism is not a monolith, not all distributists are the same, and that distributism does not always fit the stereotypes its detractors typically pin to it. 
The first thing we need to understand is that there are two forms of distributism. There’s classical distributism (or paleo-distributism) which was the idealized version of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. It was highly centered on the agrarian model which was much more common in the Chester-Belloc time period. The idea of “three acres and a cow” is often used to describe this romanticized version of how distributism might play out in an ideal agrarian society. It’s been a century since that version of distributism first made its public appearance, and while ideal, it wasn’t even practical back then, let alone today. Then there is contemporary distributism (or neo-distributism), or what I just like to call “practical distributism,” which is how distributist ideals play out in the real world, with real examples, and a real history to prove it works. That’s the kind of distributist I am. I’m a practical distributist. (Read more.)
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8 Social Skills Children Need To Know

From Blessed Learners:

Language Comprehension

In order to interact with others, children will need to comprehend basic language that’s used in their everyday life.  When you help a child develop this social skill they will be better able to articulate what they’re trying to communicate with others. Language comprehension is a huge social skill that helps with effective communication.

Eye Contact

It’s important to teach children how to maintain eye contact when speaking with another person. This helps guide the conversation in a positive direction.  Some children struggle with eye contact, especially children who are on the autism spectrum. While your child may struggle with this ability, try to encourage not force them to make eye contact during every conversation they have with you.

Good Manners

It’s best to teach children good manners from a young age as this will play a key factor in ensuring that their social interactions are positive experiences.  Manners are essential in ensuring that our children treat others with respect and kindness. A child with good manners will be more grateful and appreciative of others, which is extremely important in life.  (Read more.)
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Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Tulip Trees of the Queen's Grove

They are my favorite tree, too. Our woods in Maryland are full of them. From the Chateau de Versailles:
Created in 1776 to replace the Maze Grove, this ornamental garden bordering the Orangery Parterre was made especially for Queen Marie-Antoinette. The design reflects the taste at the time for landscaped gardens, combining the precision of the French formal layout, which was so popular at the French Court, with the twists and turns of the walks inspired by the new English-style gardens. 
The Queen’s Grove deteriorated considerably during the 19th and 20th centuries, and today it is a mere shadow of what it once was. Although it still retains most of its original layout, the walks with their imposing foliage have become commonplace paths and the botanical diversity has gone, giving way to uniform bushes. When the Grove is restored, it will once again have the rich variety of plant life that the Queen knew and the paths will be laid out as they were at that time. The central square will be replanted with Virginia tulips and the access paths will again be bordered with trees and flowering shrubs (eastern redbud, Virginia bird cherry, rowan, etc.). The arbours on the fringes of the grove will be decked with staghorn sumac, white fringe trees and laburnum, etc. 
This was Queen Marie-Antoinette’s favourite tree, which she also had planted in her gardens at Trianon. The Virginia tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is native to the southern and eastern regions of the USA. Introduced into France at the beginning of the 18th century, this majestic tree can live for up to 500 years and usually grows to a height of 40 to 60 metres. It is distinct for its heavily perfumed tulip-shaped flowers and broad leaves, which turn red and gold in autumn. (Read more.)
Marie-Antoinete and Louis XVI in the gardens of Versailles
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Biden’s Attack On ‘White Man’s Culture’

From The Federalist:
During a recent struggle session over his role in the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill Supreme Court hearings of 1991, prospective presidential candidate Joe Biden declared that the United States had a centuries-old embedded cultural problem with permissive violence against women. “It’s an English jurisprudential culture,” Biden explained this week, “a white man’s culture. It’s got to change.” 
“English jurisprudential culture” is, of course, the foundation of American governance and our Constitutional rights. It’s unlikely any culture in history has brought more freedom and prosperity to more of humankind. Now, it’s true that the tenets of this culture have fallen into disfavor with the progressives who Biden is trying to woo. But does any educated person truly believe that “English jurisprudential culture” has been more prone towards misogyny than other societies?

How has Chinese jurisprudential cultureperformed for women over history? How about Indian jurisprudential culture? Or Russian jurisprudential culture? Or sub-Saharan African jurisprudential culture? How has Islamic jurisprudential culture worked out for women? The “English jurisprudential culture” of New Zealand was the first to grant all women the right to vote in 1893, followed over the next decades by an array of other English and formerly English colonies. Saudi Arabia granted women that same right only in 2011. Then again, the women of 1893 “English jurisprudential culture”—voting rights or not—were already leading freer and safer lives than most of the women who have to function under the deeply illiberal legal cultures of the Islamic world today. 
Those who demand acts of contrition over “English jurisprudential culture,” seem to have a problem with ideals of blind justice and due process that stop us from sacrificing people to the whims of an aggrieved mob. Biden’s transgression against progressivism, as far as I can tell, was affirming to Thomas during the Hill hearings that, “from the beginning and at this moment, until the end, the presumption [of innocence] is with you.” It wasn’t true. (Read more.)

From the Conservative Review:
Wednesday on the radio, LevinTV host Mark Levin said that expected 2020 presidential candidate former VP Joe Biden is “humiliating himself.” Levin played recent audio of Biden lamenting that there were “a bunch of white guys” on the Senate Judiciary Committee, including himself as chairman, during Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing, suggesting that the race and sex of these senators made it an unfair hearing for Thomas’ sexual harassment accuser, Anita Hill. “This plays in to the radical race theme of the hard Left,” Levin said. (Read more.) 
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Science Denial

From Quillette:
Not a week goes by without yet another research study, popular science book, or mainstream news article promoting the idea that (a) any differences between men and women in the brain are purely socially constructed and (b) these differences have been exaggerated beyond any meaningful relevance. More recently, this argument has evolved to contend that (c) there are, in fact, no brain differences between the sexes at all. Eliot’s article appears to subscribe to a hodgepodge of all three perspectives, which not only contradict one another but are also factually incorrect.

So begins the book review, titled, “Neurosexism: The myth that men and women have different brains.” “Neurosexism,” a term coined by philosopher of science, Cordelia Fine, brands as “sexist” any claim that sex differences in the brain have a bearing on our personalities and behavior. From this line of thinking, wanting to understand these differences from a scientific point of view is inherently suspect—“bad neuroscience” and “bad research practice,” in the words of Eliot—because only sexists and those seeking to subjugate women would presumably be interested in them. It is a tired argument that incorrectly conflates the potential for bad applications of a research finding with the finding itself. We can acknowledge that male and female brains have differences in structure and function, on average, without subscribing to the belief that one sex is better than the other. (Read more.)
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Friday, March 29, 2019

Cleopatra Reimagined

From Helen Davis:
Cleopatra has come down to us as the most famous member of her dynasty, the Ptolemies. But the Ptolemies were not a native dynasty, but rather, began ruling Egypt in the late 4th century B.C. Alexander the Great, when he died, had to have his empire split up among four generals. Ptolemy, a Macedonian Greek, took Egypt and they would become the last dynasty of Egypt before its annexation in 30 B.C. by Augustus Caesar. Our Cleopatra was actually Cleopatra VII of a long dynasty of Cleopatras. Many of her predecessors who likely served as examples to her, were all illustrious, ambitious women, each with stories as interesting as hers, but have been eclipsed by their more illustrious descendant.

Cleopatra was born in 69 B.C. For all her fame, we don't know the identity of her mother. There is speculation this woman was Queen Cleopatra V, a sister of Cleopatra's father, or an unnamed concubine. For my novel, I chose Cleopatra V, but this is still not known. We do know Cleopatra VII grew up in Alexandria, a great city founded in 324 B.C. by Ptolemy I, the progenitor of her dynasty. She grew up in a world that was simultaneously luxurious and hostile. As a princess, she had all she could dream of- servants, fine clothes, and jewelry. But she also grew up in an atmosphere of palace politics in which her siblings and her—she had three sisters and two brothers--tried to outshine each other in a race to win the throne. Although Cleopatra's father, Ptolemy XII, was the ruler of Egypt, he was despised by his people and many in his family. Cleopatra is alleged to have been his favorite child. In a patriarchal era, Auletes declared Cleopatra his successor even though he had two sons, later her co-rulers. Quite a contrast to the infamous Henry VIII.

If you are a fan of the Tudors and enjoy reading about the intrigue growing up between Edward VI, Elizabeth I and Mary I, then the story of Cleopatra's childhood and siblings will intrigue you too. Cleopatra's three sisters were Cleopatra VI (yes, there were two Cleopatras in her family), who briefly ruled Egypt from 58 to 57 B.C. after her father, Auletes went into exile, Berenice IV, who likely killed Cleopatra VI and ruled from 57 to 55 B.C. upon her father's return, and Arsinoë IV, who later rivaled Cleopatra as queen of Egypt during the first decade of her reign. Cleopatra's brothers were Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, with whom she would share brief co-reigns. (Read more.)
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NeverTrump, No Reserve

From Justin Raimondo at  Chronicles:
In just listing the various initiatives and projects taken up by Omidyar, it is dizzying to contemplate the resources available to the other wings of the oligarchical alliance.  George Soros can meet and match Omidyar, but there are several other contestants in this globalist philanthropy competition.  In the end, the bill must come to at least a billion dollars. 
These billionaires have more resources, in many cases, than many governments—and are, potentially, just as dangerous as any full-fledged state.  Speaking of which, the most active and certainly the most powerful components of the grand anti-Trump alliance are the governments of several of our faithful “allies.”  The British, originators of the infamous “dirty dossier,” have been directing Russiagate from MI6 headquarters.  The intelligence services of Eastern Europe and the Baltics are also involved, as well as the Australians and the Israelis, both of whom interacted with George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign worker who supposedly had knowledge of Clinton’s emails. 
Which brings us to potentially the most dangerous of the anti-Trump forces: our own law-enforcement and intelligence officials, who have leaked, lied, and led a crusade to label a sitting president an agent of a foreign power. It’s a brazen attempt to seize power and establish a precedent.  If the coup succeeds, no president will be able to take or stay in office without the imprimatur of the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. 
Will the American people stand for it?  The NeverTrumpers are counting on the indifference and disillusionment of the American people, hoping they’ll be hornswoggled by the sheer quantity of anti-Trumpism filling the airwaves and the pages of the nation’s newspapers. 
The irony of the entire situation is that this bloody battle for supremacy is being waged against a backdrop of peace and growing prosperity.  Unemployment is the lowest since government agencies started keeping track, wages are up, and so are the President’s poll numbers. (Read more.)

From The American Thinker:
I am firmly convinced the economy will be humming in November of 2020, barring acts of God and acts of war.  Trump can't interfere with the Lord, but he can certainly keep us out of war, and he will.  And the tax regime he installed, the regulatory relief he's providing, and the international markets he's opening are all powerful stimulants.  The Federal Reserve isn't going to rain on this parade, especially not with Stephen Moore joining it.  Animal spirits are flowing.  There's a lot of rational exuberance.  If you ever wanted to go into business, now would be the time to do it. 
This all makes a pretty economic pie, and there's a big scoop of ice cream to top it off.  It's something Trump had nothing to do with.  It's the best economic news of all.  Productivity is rising!  James Pethokoukis spells it all out in The Week. 
This is profoundly good news.  It means all the creativity of Silicon Valley is infiltrating American business, and the long-term consequences could be as drastic as the switch form muscle to steam, and from steam to electricity.  It's that big. All this means there's going to be 3% economic growth in 2020, maybe 4%. That means Trump is re-elected. (Read more.) 
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Chronic Stress Promotes Breast Cancer

From The Medical Press:
A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, establishes that the hormone epinephrine sets off a cascade of biochemical reactions that favor growth and spread. In the study, the researchers first demonstrated the effects of chronic stress on cancer stem cell growth, a novel twist on previous research that did not specifically focus on these self-perpetuating cells.

"You can kill all the cells you want in a tumor, but if the stem cells, or mother cells, are not killed, then the tumor is going to grow and metastasize. This is one of the first studies to link chronic stress specifically with the growth of breast cancer stem cells," says Keith Kelley, emeritus professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois, and an author on the study. (Read more.)
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Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Lost Royal Art Collection of Charles I

From Country Life:
Between the restoration of the monarchy on May 1, 1660, and Charles II’s return three weeks later, frantic efforts were made to get the royal palaces into order to receive him. Only Whitehall and Hampton Court, the residences used by Oliver Cromwell, were fit for the new Court, but even they needed refurnishing. When a Dutch visitor, Lodewijk Huygens, was shown the former King’s apartments at Hampton Court, he was struck by the air of desolation: ‘The furniture had all been removed, except for the tapestries which had been behind the good ones to protect them from the damp of the walls.’

Almost nothing was left, because Charles I’s possessions, including one of the greatest art collections in Europe, had been sold during the Commonwealth. Parliament moved quickly to put history into reverse. On May 9, the House of Lords appointed a Committee for the Recovery of the King’s Goods, which issued an order that ‘All persons that have any of the King’s goods, jewels, or pictures’ had to return them within seven days. The proclamation was backed up by powers of search and seizure and, from August, by the offer of rewards for information about goods ‘wilfully concealed’.
 
Within days, queues were forming at the office in Whitehall appointed for the purpose and, by the middle of June 1661, more than 1,000 paintings had been returned or seized. No compensation was paid, as the sale of the King’s goods was exempted from the 1660 Act of Indemnity and Oblivion, which declared a general amnesty for acts committed during the Commonwealth. (Read more.)
Charles I and Henrietta Maria by Van Dyck
King Charles I by Van Dyck
Henrietta of France by Van Dyck
 More HERE.


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Russiagate: A Bright, Shining Lie

From Chronicles:
"The Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia . . . to influence the 2016 US presidential campaign." So stated Attorney General William Barr in his Sunday letter to Congress summarizing the principal findings of the Mueller report. On the charge of collusion with Russia, not guilty on all counts.

After two years of hearing from haters in politics and the media that President Donald Trump was "Putin's poodle," an agent of the Kremlin, guilty of treason, an illegitimate president who would leave the White House in handcuffs and end his days in prison, we learn the truth. It was all a bright, shining lie.

Reeling from Trump's exoneration, big media are now scurrying to their fallback position: Mueller did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice. But Mueller was not obstructed. No one impeded his labors. As for Trump's rages against his investigation, they were the natural reaction of an innocent man falsely accused and facing disgrace and ruin for a crime he did not commit, indeed, a crime that had never been committed.

The House Judiciary Committee may try to replicate what Mueller did, and re-investigate obstruction. Fine. This would confirm what this whole rotten business has at root always been about: a scheme by the deep state and allied media to bring down another president. The Mueller investigation employed 19 lawyers and 40 FBI agents. It took two years. It issued 2,800 subpoenas. It executed 500 search warrants. It interviewed 500 witnesses. And it failed to indict a single member of Trump's campaign for collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Which raises this question:

If Mueller could find no collusion, after an exhaustive two-year search, what was the compelling evidence that caused James Comey's FBI and Barack Obama's Department of Justice to believe that such collusion had occurred and to launch this investigation? Sunday, after Barr's summary of the Mueller report became public, Trump aired his justified anger: "It's a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest, it's a shame that your president has had to go through this. . . . This was an illegal takedown that failed." Is there not truth in this? (Read more.)

From The Washington Examiner:
 Conservative commentator Mark Levin lashed out against the Democrats in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller submitting his final report to the Justice Department. During his Fox News show Sunday, the nationally syndicated radio host blamed former President Barack Obama's government for seeding a Russian collusion frenzy and called for an investigation into their role in peddling the narrative. "The Democratic Party is not a pro-America party. They act like a third-world party because they want to destroy this presidency," Levin said. "It is time to focus on the Democrats in the House. It is time to focus on the media, the Hillary campaign, the DNC, Barack Obama — this was Barack Obama’s government that did all this when the Russians were interfering in our election." (Read more.)

The real scandal is just starting. From The American Thinker:
Looking back, we can say the media misreported what Robert Mueller was doing.  In other words, this was never an investigation of Donald Trump.  It was really about Russia and the 2016 election. Are you ready for the next scandal?  When will we see rats jumping ship or people saving their necks? As we've known for years, Bill and Hillary Clinton have a Russian story longer than Tolstoy's War and Peace. So let me add my speculation: what if Mueller picked up some information about the Clintons and Russia? Again, I don't know, but the Clintons do have their Russia connections. (Read more.)

From Bloomberg:
 “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” That single sentence, taken from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, calls for a reckoning.
It’s a reckoning for Democrats who saw almost every development in this almost-two-year investigation as another dot connecting a conspiracy Mueller has not found. It’s a reckoning for many in the media that dutifully passed along this theory without scrutiny or context. And it’s a reckoning for many national security officials who abandoned their traditional nonpartisan role as custodians of state secrets to engage in a campaign against a president they loathed.
Their suspicions, I should note, were not unwarranted. During the 2016 election, there was strong evidence that Russia had hacked the emails of leading Democrats, a fact supported by Mueller’s indictments. The country later learned from Mueller that Moscow conducted a social media campaign to flood Twitter and Facebook with fake news and propaganda to discredit Hillary Clinton. Trump, meanwhile, once publicly invited the assistance of the Russians.
But many people who should have known better went beyond suspicion and embraced conspiracy. Remember Senator Harry Reid’s explosive letter to James Comey, released just a few days before the election, alleging that the FBI director possessed devastating information about Trump and his campaign’s ties to Russia? Reid did not provide many details. We now know that many of the allegations to which Reid referred echoed an infamous dossier prepared by a former British spy at the behest of an opposition research firm paid by the Democratic Party. (Read more.)

From The Hill:
As the “Impeach Trump” machine raged with fuel provided by Democrats and an errant media, a funny thing happened: More than three dozen Republican incumbents in Congress announced they were retiring in 2018, leaving the GOP with a gaping hole in the House that Democrats exploited. Polls showed the impact of the Russia coverage on voters. About half of American voters declared they believed Trump or his aides had colluded with Russia, even though they hadn’t. It is the most compelling proof in a long time that false information repeated long enough becomes truth for many people.

Although we are still coming to grips with the finality of the Mueller report, one thing has become increasingly clear: The Russia collusion narrative — fanned by foreigners, dirty tricksters and a willing media — did, in fact, impact an American election. Not the one in 2016, but the midterm that came two years later. (Read more.)

 Has irreparable damage been done? From The Federalist:
Yet once-respectable, if biased, mainstream outlets churned out one deceptive and faulty stories on the matter after the next. Even when corrected, these many debunked pieces helped foster an environment that allowed the Big Myth to fester.
For all the alleged reporters who spread tales of conspiracy—Ken Dilanian, Natasha Betrand, Ryan Lizza, Manu Raju, and Jason Leopold come to mind, although they certainly weren’t alone— there were an endless number of pundits and liberal writers who regularly accused the president, not of being merely mendacious or incompetent, but of sedition.
A bunch of crackpots were transformed into social media stars. Cable news paraded out officials with axes to grind, like John Brennan and James Clapper, and a slew of supposedly credentialed talking heads as experts. They all claimed that the most remarkable conspiracy in American history had transpired. (Read more.)

And now it's Trump's turn. From The Stream:
For all his supposed impulsiveness, President Trump has great patience when it counts. Be it real estate — waited years before he could get Mar-a-Lago at millions less than its appraised value. Be it the Presidency — waited decades to run. And certainly during this Mueller investigation. Remember all the leaks about Mueller investigating Trump’s children? Knowing collusion was a hoax, an effort was made to goad Trump into firing Mueller, which would have immediately been called obstruction of justice. He didn’t bite. He bided his time. In recent months, supporters have been clamoring for Trump to fully declassify the FISA Warrants the FBI/DOJ got on campaign adviser Carter Page. But Trump has held back. An old tweet, inspired by Sun Tzu, tells us why. (Read more.)
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No Gratitude

From Intellectual Takeout:
After arm-wrestling and talking for a long time about the former Navy SEAL’s own journey in politics, Crenshaw was questioned on why so many of today's young people are going all-in on the “democratic socialism” touted by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders.

According to Crenshaw, there are three main culprits:

1. No gratitude for the founding principles.

"It's a lack of gratitude," Crenshaw began. "There's a complete lack of gratitude for these principles that gave us all of these things ... personal responsibility, this idea that liberty is good, [the] idea of fairness where you get where you deserve and that not everybody gets equal stuff. ... [Those principles] lead to the ability to thrive in a free market ... and yet there's no gratitude for them."

Too often in modern American society, the founding principles that built our nation (the Jordan Peterson-esque principles of personal responsibility, justice, and complementarianism), have been tossed by the wayside, replaced instead by PC culture and unkept promises.

Crenshaw believes that these basic principles – the same principles that have supported the American dream for hundreds of years – are quickly being forgotten and then replaced.  (Read more.)

From The Blaze:
If you compare the American Revolution to the French Revolution, it's worth noting that Europeans, unlike the early Americans, believed that liberty was the enemy of religion. In fact, they were astonished when they observed that one of the most enlightened societies of the 19th century was openly religious, as observed by author W. Cleon Skousen in the "Five Thousand Year Leap."

During French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville's stay in America in 1831, he noticed that freedom and religion — even amongst the differing sects — were "intimately united," which was unheard of at the time. De Tocqueville found this marriage between the new republic and religion indispensable and so should we. As de Tocqueville put it: 

"Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom."

Former U.S. President John Adams said it best when he said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Sadly, Americans have lost faith in important institutions, churches being chief among them. (Read more.)
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Tudor Marriage Ceremonies

From Samantha Wilcoxson:
A Tudor public church wedding ceremony began with the reading of the banns. Think of this as that movie moment when the priest asks if anyone knows of any reason why this couple should not be wed. The reading of banns was the moment to speak up if there was an objection or impediment to the couple’s marriage, such as a precontract with another, consanguinity, or vows to the church. Hopefully, this portion of the ceremony went off without a hitch or the rest of it would not take place.

Once the presiding clergy was satisfied that there was no barrier to the marriage, the bride was presented by her father or other male relative. In front of friends, family, and God, she would join hands with her soon to be husband. This “handfasting” was a remnant of medieval times when a ceremony outside of the church could create a handfasted marriage that was considered inferior to a church marriage. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Remembering Charles I

Last January, members of the English Civil War Society met in London to commemorate the execution of King Charles I. From The Daily Mail:
The streets of central London were filled with a troupe of 17th Century Civil War re-enactors yesterday as they marched down The Mall in honour of Charles I. Hundreds of history enthusiasts, dressed in armour and uniforms from the period, led a procession from St James Palace on the Mall to the Banqueting House in Whitehall to commemorate the historic event 370 years ago. The King's Army Annual March follows the route the English king took before he was executed in 1649 and has become a key event etched in the diary of the society since 1951. Charles I, who became the nation's king at the tender age of 24 following the death of his brother Henry, was put on trial for treason by MPs, including the Parliamentarian general Oliver Cromwell, after they claimed he had committed 'wicked' abuses of power'. The society aim to re-create the atmospheric moment before his untimely death and retain the historical authenticity of the turbulent 17th century. (Read more.)
King Charles I and Henrietta Maria his Queen
 More on Charles I, HERE. Share

Rare Wisdom

From The American Thinker:
Politicians are used to seeing cowardice and being cowards.  So used to it are they that they cannot even imagine there being another way. Our president has proven to be quite different.  He is fearless.  He is bold.  He acts.  He accomplishes.  (What he would be accomplishing if those in his party had the courage to support him is hard to conceive.)  If one takes a moment to look at his brilliance, it is a truly rare and beautiful thing.
First off, the attacks were made to wear him down and wear him out.  To make him sue (and compromise) for peace.  He did not. Two, they thought they could make him overreact, go beyond his jurisdiction.  He did not do that, either. Three, when attacks on him directly failed, they went after his family.  The media in the end were saying his children were going to be indicted.  He did not wince.  (Neither did they.) (Read more.)
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Moonbats All

From The American Thinker:
There was a superb column at The Federalist on Wednesday by George S. Bardmesser: "Every Time Democrats Talk, I Want to Vote for Trump Twice."  It is as hilarious as it is frightening.  It is also a courageous confession, especially for a lawyer who lives in D.C.  Let's hope he has personal security. I am betting there are millions of us, many more millions than voted for Trump in 2016, who agree with the man.  He was a reluctant Trump-voter but is now completely on board the Trump train.  Why?  Because the current crop of Democrat candidates are moonbats all, with the possible exception of Howard Schultz, who has yet to officially throw his hat in the ring.  Mr. Bardmesser addresses in passing the election of Mlles. Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib, and the presidential candidacies of Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Joe Biden.  Each of them, as that author points out, is a thorough socialist nutjob.  Each of them is trying to out-fanaticalize the others.  Each of them is absolutely clueless about the American people outside the far-left bubbles all of them inhabit. (Read more.)

From The Daily Caller:
 Several economists and researchers predict that President Donald Trump would win the 2020 election, according to a report by Politico. The report, written by Politico’s Ben White and Steven Shepard, cited multiple economic models that claim Trump would “likely ride to a second term in a huge landslide.” One researcher, Donald Luskin, who is the chief investment officer for TrendMacrolytics, said in an interview with Politico that “the economy is just so damn strong right now and by all historic precedent the incumbent should run away with it.” (Read more.)

From The Catholic Vote:
The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart noticed something was missing from Beto O’Rourke’s March 14 video announcing his primary campaign for POTUS. Original thought? Coherent ideas? Self-awareness? Well, yeah, though as a left-winger, Beinert would never say it. No, it was something else.
What was missing was God.

And in fact, writes Beinart, “None of the other major white progressive candidates—Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Kirsten Gillibrand—invoked God in their presidential announcements either.” Go ahead and shrug: The Democrats are the party of abortion and gay marriage and imagined constitutional “walls” between church and state — the Godless party — and for decades any religious talk they used was window dressing. All more or less true. But window dressing matters. Every Democratic candidate through Obama tossed God into his or her appeals, maybe out of habit or to lull the “bitter clingers.” But they also regularly “invoked religion as a source of national unity,” Beinart writes. It had its uses.

Not anymore. “While white progressives once described religion as something that brought Americans together they’re now more likely to describe it as something that drives them apart,” according to Beinart, who points out that Bernie Sanders’s only campaign launch mention of faith was about “ending religious bigotry.” Beinart cites unpublished Pew Research numbers saying that in 2016, a full 33% of Democrats had no religious affiliation. Beto and Bernie et al. don’t really have to bend the knee. Who’s going to complain, Pastor Debbie Mantrousers at the United Church of What’s Happening Now? (Read more.)
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Making Sense of Hell

From First Things:
Fortunately, we are not totally ignorant, because we have the guidance of the Church. Not just the authoritative teaching statements, though that is enough, but all the expressions of the Church’s wisdom through 2000 years: the standard interpretation of many, many verses in the Old and New Testaments; the sermons of the saints, with their terrible warnings about the next life; the ancient prayer of the Mass that we be “delivered from eternal damnation”; the mystics, including those of the last century, who saw things that nearly made them die of fright; Dante’s Inferno and Michelangelo’s Last Judgment.

And then there is St. Thomas More at his trial, saying that if he was not telling the truth “then pray I that I may never see God in the face”; the little children of Fatima doing their penances to help imperiled sinners, and in the process launching one of the great devotions of the twentieth century; the testimony of exorcists who, in the course of their liberating work, have spoken with demons about the next life; the countless holy men and women who have gone out to preach and care for the sick and spend themselves in love—not mostly, but partly, because they feared what they might hear on Judgment Day; the countless ordinary men and women who have forced themselves into the confessional—not wholly, but perhaps, on that day, mostly, because they believed they needed urgent rescuing. If Catholicism is the work of the Holy Spirit, then it looks like this is one of the truths He wants to lead us to.

Even non-Catholics will have to contend with Jesus’s words on this subject, which seem designed to make impossible the sort of creative rereading of which modern scholars are fond. He speaks, repeatedly, of the unquenchable fire. It is hard to downplay this and call it the fire of God’s love, because he also promises to tell the damned: “I never knew you.” He employs vivid images, like the narrow gate, but you cannot say his teaching is all metaphorical, because he describes literally the desperation of hell: “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Our Lord does not sound like he is referring to some process of difficult but healthy purification. He sounds like he is warning of a fate worse than death. Get rid of the doctrine of hell, and you will ultimately have to treat Jesus as though he does not know what he is talking about. For any Christian, that is an untenable conclusion. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette

Marie-Antoinette de Lorraine d'Autriche
Henriette-Marie de France
Queen Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI of France and Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I of England were two of the most notorious queens in European history. They both faced accusations that they had transgressed social, gender and regional norms, and attempted to defend themselves against negative reactions to their behaviour. Each queen engaged with the debates of her time concerning the place of women within their families, religion, politics, the public sphere and court culture and attempted to counter criticism of her foreign origins and political influence. The impeachment of Henrietta Maria in 1643 and trial and execution of Marie Antoinette in 1793 were also trials of monarchical government that shaped the English Civil Wars and French Revolution.
I was lucky enough to receive a copy from Palgrave Macmillan of Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette by Carolyn Harris, which is a part of their Queenship and Power series. Marie Antoinette has had much written about her, while Henrietta Maria seems to have been quite forgotten. I only recently received a new biography about her.
The comparison between Marie Antoinette and Maria Henrietta is perhaps not one that immediately comes to mind, but both women lived in a time of civil unrest, albeit over 100 years apart. Both women were childless for the first part of their marriage and suffered for it. It’s a rather interesting comparison, and I especially enjoyed reading about Henrietta Maria’s impeachment, about which so little appears to have been written. Henrietta Maria managed to escape to France, but without her husband who was eventually executed in 1649. Marie Antoinette and her family also attempted to escaped, but they were caught, and both Marie Antoinette and her husband were executed by guillotine. (Read more.)
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Christianophobia and Islamophobia

From Crisis:
The attack on the mosques in New Zealand took place on March 14 and received intensive worldwide coverage. Yet four days earlier, two Muslim suicide bombers tried to blow up a church in Adamawa State in Nigeria. Six days earlier, on March 4, Muslim Fulani tribesmen killed 23 Christians with machetes and gunfire in Benue State. And on March 10 and 11, Fulani herdsmen killed 85 people in three communities in Kaduna State. A month prior to that, Boko Haram militants killed 60 people and burned hundreds of structures in the Nigerian town of Rann.

Judging by the lack of international news coverage, one is forced to the conclusion that the media considers the ongoing slaughter of Christians to be a low-priority matter. In some instances, the Christians can’t even count on local coverage. International Christian Concern ends a report on a Boko Haram attack with these words: “The church leader regrets that these attacks are rarely reported on by the local media anymore. As a result, their people continue to suffer in silence, with minimal help from others.”

I mention these killings because they occurred close in time to the New Zealand attack. But they are only part of a bigger picture. In many parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, attacks on Christians by Muslims are routine. These include attacks on Christians at worship. For example, in Alexandria, Egypt, 45 people were killed in church bombings on Palm Sunday 2017.  According to Open Doors, at least 4,305 Christians were murdered for their faith by Muslims in 2018.

Apparently, the incidence of global Christianophobia is far greater than the incidence of Islamophobia. Yet, by slanted and selective news coverage, the media attempts to convince us otherwise. In his press conference remarks, Nihad Awad spoke of skyrocketing attacks on mosques, and the media was quick to echo the claim. Except for occasional incidents of spray-painting—regrettable as that is—attacks on mosques in the Western world are extremely rare. What Awad and the press also fail to mention is that the vast majority of deadly attacks on mosques and on Muslim pilgrims are committed by other Muslims. (Read more.)
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Now Back to the Culture War

After Mueller. From The American Thinker:
I do feel for our liberal friends, I really do after their weekend from hell. To be disappointed by Mueller, and humiliated by Trump, when everything seemed to be going so swimmingly! The shame of it! It’s the ingratitude! Don’t those deplorables -- Trumpists, Brexiteers, white nationalists, yellow vests -- don’t they understand that everything they take for granted today -- labor laws, old age pensions, education, health care, safety, clean air and water -- were given to them by the activism and the peaceful protests of the progressives? 
And now that the progressives are ethically progressing onwards to extend the sacrament of peaceful protest to new groups of the underprivileged -- women, minorities, gays, migrants, Muslims -- the ungrateful populist hounds selfishly insist that not a word of the old welfare-state Latin Mass be changed. 
So I understand the outrage of the educated class at the election of Trump. Just like the McCarthyites two generations ago, our baffled educated class knows there must be reds under the beds, some vile conspiracy responsible for the unspeakable insult of rejecting their kind and beneficent rule. There has to be a conspiracy! At the highest levels of government! No wait, our guys are at the highest levels of government, so the conspiracy has to be, well, something or other, so let’s sic Robert Mueller on the contemptible fiends that are colluding to overturn our enlightened and ethical rule! 
And now the Mueller game has ended, according to the attorney general, in bupkis -- from the Yiddish, don’t you know -- meaning that the real story is that the Obama administration “conspired and coordinated with” the FBI and the DoJ and the intelligence community “in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” To coin a phrase: what did the President know and when did he know it? Obama, that is. (Read more.)

Will conservatives please start supporting our president? Also from The American Thinker:
You may not like Donald Trump personally, and you’re not obligated to support 100% of his agenda, but he is your teammate. To use a hockey metaphor: your guy took countless high sticks to the back of his head. You need to clear the bench and stand up for your teammate. Anything short of clear and unequivocal support is unacceptable (Wakeup call to Mitt Romney). 
The left are hell-bent on destroying America, and by extension western civilization. Today is a great victory for the good guys, but don’t think for a minute that the left is going to take today’s findings sitting down. They are already planning their next attack. Stand with your president. Stand with the 62 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump. (Read more.) 

Meanwhile, apologies are in order. From Sharyl Attkisson at The Hill:
So, a round of apologies seem in order. Apologies to Trump on behalf of those in the U.S. intelligence community, including the Department of Justice and the FBI, which allowed the weaponization of sensitive, intrusive intelligence tools against innocent citizens such as Carter Page, an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign.

Apologies also to Page himself, to Jerome Corsi, Donald Trump Jr., and other citizens whose rights were violated or who were unfairly caught up in surveillance or the heated pursuit of charges based on little more than false, unproven opposition research paid for by Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Apologies for the stress on their jobs and to their families, the damage to their reputations, the money they had to spend to hire legal representation and defend themselves from charges for crimes they did not commit.

Apologies on behalf of those in the intelligence community who leaked true information out of context to make Trump look guilty, and who sometimes leaked false information to try to implicate or frame him.

Apologies from those in the chain of command at the FBI and the Department of Justice who were supposed to make sure all information presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is verified but did not do so.

Apologies from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court judges who are supposed to serve as one of the few checks and balances to prevent the FBI from wiretapping innocent Americans. Whether because of blind trust in the FBI or out of ignorance or even malfeasance, they failed at this important job.

Apologies to the American people who did not receive the full attention of their government while political points were being scored; who were not told about some important world events because they were crowded out of the news by the persistent insistence that Trump was working for Russia. Apologies all the way around. And now, with those apologies handled — are more than apologies due?

Should we try to learn more about those supposed Russian sources who provided false “intel” contained in the “dossier” against Trump, Page and others? Should we learn how these sources came to the attention of ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who built the dossier and claimed that some of the sources were close to Putin? (Read more.)

From Breitbart:
Turning Point USA founder and Executive Director Charlie Kirk told Breitbart News that President Donald Trump “recognizes the importance of the culture war” and that when the president sees his supporters — as well as constitutional liberties — under attack, he “has an obligation to have their backs.” Kirk offered his remarks in a Saturday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Matt Boyle. “What the president did this week is so historic,” said Charlie Kirk, “The signing of an executive order that any institution of higher learning that does not protect the First Amendment rights of their students will — have their federal funding in jeopardy. This is long overdue.” (Read more.)
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Pies and Politics in Buenos Aires

From The Guardian:
The Argentinian capital is home to five restaurants devoted to former president General Juan Domingo Perón and his wife, Eva. But meaningful memorabilia and indulgent comfort food make Perón Perón the preferred haunt for activists and foodies. A space for peronista youths to discuss politics over the pastel de papas (shepherd’s pie, the general’s favourite dish), locro bean stew and malbec served in penguin jugs, this casual establishment is equally popular with kirchneristas, adherents of the strand of Peronism created by the late Néstor Kirchner and his wife, outgoing president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Amid supportive graffiti on the military green walls, the restaurant’s memorabilia includes a kitsch candlelit shrine to Evita, labourers’ attire and a sewing machine-turned beer dispenser – representing Evita’s social campaign to help mothers clothe their families. (Read more.)
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Monday, March 25, 2019

Virgin with the Laughing Child

From The Guardian:
It’s always been part of Leonardo’s legend that he made sculptures, including a giant horse, but not a single extant three-dimensional work by him had been identified. The Virgin with the Laughing Child is the miraculous exception, according to the curators of the exhibition Verrocchio: Master of Leonardo, at Palazzo Strozzi, where it has just gone on display. It has an unambiguous label: Leonardo da Vinci. He is said to have created it around 1472, when he was 19 or 20 and a pupil of the Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio.

The UK has a special interest in the find, which has belonged to the V&A since 1858 but had long been credited to another artist, Antonio Rossellino. That is because scholars had been bamboozled by the posthumous authority of the late art historian and British Museum director John Pope-Hennessy, according to Francesco Caglioti, the Italian academic who is leading the new attribution. Caglioti, who teaches at Naples University, is well known among Renaissance experts for his unrivalled knowledge of 15th-century sculpture: an art history prodigy who made a catalogue of the Louvre when he was eight. Victorians had no difficulty seeing the Leonardo-esque look of the V&A treasure, he said. The Virgin Mary looks down at the Christ child on her lap with what may be the prototype of all the enigmatic smiles in Leonardo’s art, the most famous of which is the Mona Lisa’s. (Read more.)

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Anti-Semitism and the Soul of the Left

From The Tablet:
Last year in New York City, there were four times as many bias crimes against Jews then there were against blacks—though there are twice as many blacks than Jews living in the city—and 20 times as many bias crimes against Jews as against transgender people. The main targets of these crimes were not Jews with dark skin but Jews of any race who were readily identifiable as Jews. 
Inconveniently, the perpetrators of these specific crimes do not appear to be die-hard supporters of Donald Trump. “During the past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group,” wrote Ginia Bellafante of The New York Times. In most recent cases, the perpetrators of anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City have been people of color. 
Being “white” according to the arbitrary racial taxonomy that has been repurposed by American progressives has not saved Jews before, including from the greatest mass murder in human history. Nor today does it protect their descendants from demonstrably being the most frequently targeted victims of religiously based hate crimes. 
So whence the clamor about “white Jews?” They are not Trump supporters—at least not yet. In 2016, after African-Americans, Jews as a constituency delivered the most lopsided vote against Trump. Among the president’s conservative critics in the media, such as myself, Jews constitute such a visibly disproportionate share that it regularly draws the unwelcome attention of neo-Nazis and alt-right internet trolls. (Read more.)
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Why Economics Are Not Enough

From Crisis:
Those holding a solely economic perspective often fail to realize that man has another side that is spiritual and superior. Conservatives have long acknowledged this. Barry Goldwater’s classic manifesto, The Conscience of a Conservative, ghostwritten by William F. Buckley’s brother-in-law, Catholic convert L. Brent Bozell, Jr., affirms that every man is a unique and “spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires.” This superior side of man’s nature makes us unique and establishes our dignity. This side gives rise to political, social, cultural, and religious activities and sciences that tower above mere material economic production. These endeavors help satisfy our spiritual needs and ultimately lead to our eternal salvation.

The Republican Workers Party suffers from its failure to consider this spiritual dimension seriously. The author focuses on workers and jobs, politics and power, and special interests and privileges. It is a prism that relegates the spiritual to poetic longings for a Christian past with little connection to modernity. However, we must note that the material perspective offers nothing new, and is itself guilty of nostalgia. The author echoes a typical Enlightenment perspective that waxes lyrical about the brutal trilogy of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Prof. Buckley recognizes no specific metaphysical order and notes his disappointment that we have failed to move beyond the times “when people look to theologians rather than scientists to make sense of a confusing world.”

Thus, this dominant materialistic narrative weighs heavily upon the book since economics needs norms outside itself to judge its ethical value. Church teaching is that economics must be subject to and seek orientation from those higher normative sciences like ethics, logic, and moral philosophy which have as their focus all human activity. Economics is a science that is intertwined with all others and should belong to a worldview since it seeks to understand human action. It is no coincidence that Adam Smith taught moral philosophy and not statistical analysis or macro-economics. (Read more.)
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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Fantasy and the Pre-Raphaelites

From Myth and Moor:
Irish poet William Butler Yeats once said: "I made a new religion of poetic tradition, of a fardel of stories, and of personages, and of emotions, inseparable from their first expression, passed on from generation to generation by poets and painters. I wished for a world where I could discover this tradition perpetually, and not in pictures and poems only, but in tiles round the chimney piece and in the hangings that kept out the draft."  

In Victorian England, a group of idealistic men and women dreamed of creating such an ideal world, spinning their bright, richly colored dreams against the drab, smoky background of the Industrial Revolution. Although they came from different walks of life and different artistic disciplines, today we tend to group all these artists together as the Pre-Raphaelites: followers of an aesthetic ideal that also inspired (and overlaps with) the Arts & Crafts movement. Those of us drawn to their art are often drawn as well to its encompassing vision: the idea that art is not just something to look at, or to find in a book, but is (or can be) a way life — a religion of Beauty, of Romanticism, that surrounds one (as Yeats would say) right down to the tiles round the chimney piece. (Read more.)
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