Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Liberal and Conservative

Two words Catholics need to stop using. Either you are a Catholic, or you are not. To quote author Emily Stimpson:
No matter what the politicians say, no one political party is the standard bearer for the Catholic Faith. Both, in some way, are at odds with Church teaching. Forgetting that is a shortcut to cafeteria Catholicism. It encourages people to think they can disregard some of the Church’s doctrines simply because their preferred political party says they can.

And they can’t. That’s not how it works. Shocking though this may be, the DNC and RNC are not divinely appointed arbiters of the moral universe. If we’re Catholic, we’re supposed to believe that job has long been taken by the Church. So, it’s her voice, not MSNBC’s or Fox News’, to which we should be listening.

Last but not least (really, most of all), attaching words like “liberal” and “conservative” to the Catholic Faith skews people’s understanding of the nature of the Faith itself.

Let’s take a trip to the dictionary. For all its various meanings, the word “liberal” fundamentally means “one who liberalizes.” And one who liberalizes is one who seeks to “reform something and make it less strict.” Likewise, the word “conservative” denotes “one who conserves.” And one who conserves is one who “keeps something from harm, loss, or decay.”

In other words, attaching the terms “liberal” and “conservative” to “Catholic,” implies that Catholic doctrine has the potential to decay or be reformed. It also reinforces the notion that the essentials of Church teaching are as debatable as the details of Paul Ryan’s budget. Which they’re not.

Yes, of course, there’s development in Church teaching. As the years pass and man applies his mind to the Deposit of Faith, our understanding of Revelation can deepen. It can become more nuanced.

But it can’t change. The fundamentals remain, always and everywhere, the same.

The Church, as the saying goes, is not a democracy. It’s not a body politic, and ascribing political terms to various stripes of Catholics feeds the wrong-headed notion that one day the Church is going to say, “Aw shucks, post-modern world, you’re so right: women priests, gay marriage, and free contraception for all is totally the way to go. What were we thinking?

So, back to me. What am I? Conservative or liberal?

Neither. I’m not a conservative Catholic. I’m not a liberal Catholic. I’m just Catholic. If the Church teaches it, I believe it. If she says to do something, I do it. (Read more.)

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon

The view from their apartment. From RL Magazine:
In 1960, the couple married and took up residence in Apartment 1A. Although Lord Snowdon quickly learned royal protocol, de Courcy says, his common lineage earned him the scorn of many in their circle, including the servants. Ruby, the princess’s dresser, was charged with bringing tea and juice to Princess Margaret each morning, yet she never brought anything for Lord Snowdon. Not content to be a kept man, Lord Snowdon soon took a job at the Sunday Times, earning acclaim for his documentaries on the poor and elderly, as well as his chronicles of society. Although the couple’s love and passion for each other were palpable, Princess Margaret was used to getting her way, and any feeling of suffocation made Lord Snowdon retreat deep into his work. A few years into the marriage, cracks began to form beneath their glittering façade. (Read more.)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Their Royal Highnesses

From Tiny-Librarian: Their Royal Highnesses, le Duc et la Duchesse d’Angouleme. Share


It has become a most annoying word. To quote:
Hands down, no word grates on Americans more than "whatever," a public opinion survey says.
The casual "whatever" was rated the most annoying word by 38 percent of 1,173 adults surveyed in early December by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. That is up from 32 percent a year earlier, pollsters said. What's more, "whatever" has topped the annoying word charts for five straight years.

"The word can be very dismissive and rude," said Mary Griffith, media director for Marist. "It's a put-down to some extent and it can signal to the other person that what they are saying is not important." (Read more.)

As Feminism Implodes, It's Still a Man's World

From Camille Paglia in Time:
A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism. Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment. Ideologue professors at our leading universities indoctrinate impressionable undergraduates with carelessly fact-free theories alleging that gender is an arbitrary, oppressive fiction with no basis in biology.

Is it any wonder that so many high-achieving young women, despite all the happy talk about their academic success, find themselves in the early stages of their careers in chronic uncertainty or anxiety about their prospects for an emotionally fulfilled private life? When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honor their commitments. And without strong men as models to either embrace or (for dissident lesbians) to resist, women will never attain a centered and profound sense of themselves as women.

From my long observation, which predates the sexual revolution, this remains a serious problem afflicting Anglo-American society, with its Puritan residue. In France, Italy, Spain, Latin America and Brazil, in contrast, many ambitious professional women seem to have found a formula for asserting power and authority in the workplace while still projecting sexual allure and even glamour. This is the true feminine mystique, which cannot be taught but flows from an instinctive recognition of sexual differences. In today’s punitive atmosphere of sentimental propaganda about gender, the sexual imagination has understandably fled into the alternate world of online pornography, where the rude but exhilarating forces of primitive nature rollick unconstrained by religious or feminist moralism. (Read more.)


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Faith vs. Atheism in the South Bronx

From The Guardian:
I eventually left my Wall Street job and started working with and photographing homeless addicts in the South Bronx. When I first walked into the Bronx I assumed I would find the same cynicism I had towards faith. If anyone seemed the perfect candidate for atheism it was the addicts who see daily how unfair, unjust, and evil the world can be.
None of them are. Rather they are some of the strongest believers I have met, steeped in a combination of Bible, superstition, and folklore.


In these last three years, out from behind my computers, I have been reminded that life is not rational and that everyone makes mistakes. Or, in Biblical terms, we are all sinners.
We are all sinners. On the streets the addicts, with their daily battles and proximity to death, have come to understand this viscerally. Many successful people don't. Their sense of entitlement and emotional distance has numbed their understanding of our fallibility. (Read more.)


Author and historian Gareth Russell shares his favorite reads of 2013, among which is The Night's Dark Shade, I am honored to say. To quote:
The festering underbelly of the Cathar movement and the clash between two rival faiths in thirteenth-century France make this novel very interesting, very enjoyable and, reading for pleasure this time, one of the most intriguing takes on religious controversies of the Middle Ages. If you are a fan of medieval stories, then this one is certainly worth picking up. (Read more.)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reviewing the Troops

The Swiss Guards present arms to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Share

Cocktail Attire for Men

From Gentleman's Gazette:
When you receive an invitation nowadays, it may read Cocktail Attire, Black Tie Optional or Formal but what exactly does that mean? Back in the day, things were simpler: The Dresscode was either Black Tie for less formal evening occasions and White Tie for more formal ones. The women’s dresses were chosen accordingly.

Today, for many men the tuxedo is the most formal garment they will ever wear, and even then it is just rented. In the following, I want to explain to you what Cocktail Attire For Men is all about and what options you have for weddings, parties or events when you receive an invitation that asks for it.
If the invitation asks for Cocktail Attire, men should wear:
    1. dark to mid-gray suit
    2. dress shirt in white or a muted color
    3. necktie in subtle patterns or plains
    4. pocket square
    5. black dress shoes with leather sole
    6. Over the Calf Socks that match the trousers or something else in your outfit
    7. Of course make sure you are clean shaven and you have a proper hair cut
    8. Do NOT wear your tuxedo, that would be overdressed.
    9. For weddings: remember, this is the bride & groom’s day, so leave your pin stripe suit, bright colored ties and flashy accessories at home – the couple should be the center of attention, not you.
(Read more.)

The Sacramental Test Act, 1828

From author Regina Jeffers:
On 9 May 1828 the Sacramental Test Act, which removed most prohibitions on nonconformists and Catholics holding public office, was passed by the British Parliament.

In 1661 the Corporation Act had laid stipulated all mayors and officials in municipal corporations to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion in accordance with the rites of the Church of England. These public officials also were required to take the oath of allegiance, the oath of supremacy and non-resistance, and to declare that the Solemn League and Covenant (a treaty between the English Parliament and Scotland for the preservation of the reformed religion in Scotland, the reformation of religion in England and Ireland "according to the word of God and the example of the best reformed churches," and the extirpation of popery and prelacy) to be false.

In 1673, The Test Act demanded all holders of civil and military offices and places of trust under the Crown to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy and receive the Anglican sacrament. However, the practice was not universally enforced. For example, an annual Indemnity Act was frequently passed which ensured that Protestant Dissenters were permitted to hold public office.

In 1827, George Canning became the new Prime Minister when Lord Liverpool suffered a stroke. Lord Eldon, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Bathurst, and Lord Westmoreland, known anti-Catholics, refushed to be park of Canning's ministry which was based in Catholic emancipation.

Canning persuaded Henry Brougham and George Tierney, Whig leaders, to form a coalition not to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts or promote Parliamentary reform. Brougham declared, "My principle is - anything to lock the door forever on Eldon and Co." Unfortunately, Canning died on 8 August, and the coalition fell apart. The Duke of Wellington formed the next ministry. (Read more.)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Last Will and Testament of Louis XVI

The last Will and Testament of Louis XVI, King of France and Navarre, given on Christmas day, 1792.
In the name of the Very holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
To-day, the 25th day of December, 1792, I, Louis XVI King of France, being for more than four months imprisoned with my family in the tower of the Temple at Paris, by those who were my subjects, and deprived of all communication whatsoever, even with my family, since the eleventh instant; moreover, involved in a trial the end of which it is impossible to foresee, on account of the passions of men, and for which one can find neither pretext nor means in any existing law, and having no other witnesses, for my thoughts than God to whom I can address myself, I hereby declare, in His presence, my last wishes and feelings.
I leave my soul to God, my creator; I pray Him to receive it in His mercy, not to judge it according to its merits but according to those of Our Lord Jesus Christ who has offered Himself as a sacrifice to God His Father for us other men, no matter how hardened, and for me first.
I die in communion with our Holy Mother, the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church, which holds authority by an uninterrupted succession, from St. Peter, to whom Jesus Christ entrusted it; I believe firmly and I confess all that is contained in the creed and the commandments of God and the Church, the sacraments and the mysteries, those which the Catholic Church teaches and has always taught. I never pretend to set myself up as a judge of the various way of expounding the dogma which rend the church of Jesus Christ, but I agree and will always agree, if God grant me life the decisions which the ecclesiastical superiors of the Holy Catholic Church give and will always give, in conformity with the disciplines which the Church has followed since Jesus Christ. (Read entire Will)

Duck Dynasty Controversy

I was vaguely aware the show even existed but knew nothing concrete about it until the present controversy. I think this article from the National Catholic Register says it quite well:
It seems what the producers intended and what A&E envisioned with the show is much different than the show that they ended up with, but they didn't do anything about it because it was so wildly popular and so wildly profitable.  But even with all the money, they have never really been comfortable with what happened.

This is what happened.  The whole idea of the show was to parade these nouveau riche Christian hillbillies around so that we could laugh at them. "Look at them," we were supposed to say.  "Look how backward they are!  Look what they believe!  Can you believe they really live this way and believe this stuff?  See how they don't fit in? HAHAHA!"

When the producers saw the way the show was shaping up, different than they envisioned it, they tried to change course.  They tried to get the Robertson's to tone down their Christianity, but to their eternal credit they refused.  They tried to add fake cussin' to the show by inserting bleeps where no cussword was uttered.  At best, they wanted to make the Robertson's look like crass buffoons. At worst they wanted them to look like hypocrites.

They desperately wanted us to laugh at the Robertsons.  Instead, we loved them.
A&E wanted us to point fingers at them and laugh at them.  But something else happened entirely.  Millions upon millions of people tuned in, not to laugh at them, but to laugh with them.

And then we pointed at them.  We pointed at them and said things like, "I wish my family was more like them.  I wish we prayed together as a family.  I wish we were together like the Robertsons."

By the time this all happened, A&E had a conundrum.  They knew who the Robertsons were and what they believe and they still held it in disdain.  But they really liked the money.  Really liked the money. So they lived with it.

But the progressives whose bank accounts were not growing fatter because of these backward rubes were never inclined to look the other way.  They hate the show and they really hate the response to the show.  They want it destroyed.

Many magazines and interviewers have tried to get the Robertsons to trip up so they could pounce.  When Phil backed the Christian viewpoint on homosexuality and added some personal asides about how he just couldn't understand it, they had their moment.

I suspect that the folks at A&E, who always disliked the positive Christian message in the show of which Phil is the primary proponent, saw their chance.  They want to keep the cash but dial down the Christianity.  With Phil out, perhaps they could get the show they always wanted.

I suspect that the Robertsons are more principled than that and A&E will end up disappointed on many levels.  The Robertsons are who they are and I suspect the money means a great deal more to A&E than it does to them.

It will be interesting to see whether A&E likes the money more than they hate the Christianity.  I wouldn't be surprised if the hate wins. (Read more.)
In the meantime, Camille Paglia calls the persecution of Phil Robertson "uterly fascist, utterly Stalinist." To quote:
 I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility.This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points.” (Read more.)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cameo Miniature

Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, and the Dauphin Louis-Charles. Share

Writing Historical Novels

Novelist Stephanie Cowell offers some tips. To quote:
ONE: THOUGHTS ON WHERE AND HOW YOU SET YOUR SCENES. As much as possible, set your scenes in a different place or, if in the same place, in a different time of day. Somewhere in my drafts I make a list of all the places a character could go so that as the plot is going forward and the characters deepening, we are also touring their world a little.  In my novel Claude & Camille I have at least 20-30 settings in Paris or its suburbs alone: his studio, her parent’s expensive flat in Paris Ile St. Louis, the Pont Neuf bridge, a crowded restaurant, a café, his bedroom, a bookshop, art galleries, museums, the art studio, the streets, etc.  In this way I show their whole world. You could also change something in the room: make it emptier, or more crowded, or make something missing.

TWO: CHARACTER BUILDING. I find this thought on building a character invaluable. It is by Donald Maass from his book Writing the Breakout Novel. “Every protagonist needs a tortuous need, a consuming fear, an aching regret, a visible dream, a passionate longing, an exquisite lust, an inner lack, a fatal weakness, an irresistible plan, a noble idea and an underlying hope.” Since I found this a few novels ago, I ask these questions for every protagonist I create. It helps to make them real. I make lists and fill in the answers.

THREE: BUILD MYSTERY INTO YOUR NOVEL. Even if it is not a mystery, withhold certain information for suspense. End every single scene with the reader wondering what will happen next. I especially used this technique in my novel Marrying Mozart, which is written from six points of view, with the central question of which of the four sisters will marry Mozart.

FOUR:  MY OWN PERSONAL CREED ABOUT WRITING HISTORICAL NOVELS. A great deal of writing a novel is slowly discovering its innumerable parts and depths and colors and place and people and moving them around with joy and deep fascination to lay them out in the most compelling way it can be told. Then you slowly reveal it in drafts, paragraph by paragraph, deepening and moving order and revelation until it finally falls together in a perfect form for the reader to enter the story and live there. You discover novels more than write them. (Read more.)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Does Luxury Compromise Christian Witness?

From Commonweal:
If it is unusual to see a pope give up his palace for humbler digs, there is nothing novel in the idea that the Christian life involves renunciation. Voluntary poverty has long been understood as an important Christian ideal, and many volumes of patristic writings are filled with stern admonishments to the wealthy. Take, for example, St. Ambrose addressing the rich Christians of Milan: “You give coverings to walls and bring men to nakedness. The naked cries out before your house unheeded; your fellow man is there, naked and crying, while you are perplexed by the choice of marble to clothe your floor.” Hundreds of other passages like this one could be cited. As the historian Helen Rhee notes, the writings of the church fathers assume that “Christian self-definition includes unequivocal denunciation of avarice and luxury as irrational desires and displays of wealth.”

Yet most lay Catholics in the United States have been reluctant to take up these challenges. We admire Dorothy Day, but from afar, forgetting that she and Peter Maurin hoped that every parish would one day have a house of hospitality and that ordinary American Catholics might set aside a hospitality room in their own homes. Many are quick to accuse the Catholic clergy of extravagance (often justifiably) while remaining silent about the wealth displayed in the parking lots of our churches. This inconsistency is partly the residual effect of the old “two-level ethic,” according to which voluntary poverty was only for a few exceptional Catholics with special vocations. Poverty, like celibacy, was for the rectory and the monastery. But Vatican II reminded us of “the universal call to holiness,” and Pope John Paul II explicitly rejected the two-level ethic in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor. The evangelical counsels are no longer to be understood as only for monks and nuns. (Read more.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Breeching Ceremony

From Jane Austen:
This ceremony marked an important occasion in which the boy left the world of women (nursery). After this momentous event, his father would become more involved with his upbringing or he would be mentored by other men in his life. He might be placed in a nearby boarding school with the young sons of other gentry, such as the one that Rev. Austen ran, for example, or in a more prestigious school if his parents were richer. Opposed to a young boy of the same age, a little girl’s life remained essentially the same – she would learn the art of running a household and catching a suitable man, but her young male counterpart would learn the art of running an estate or, if he was a second son, the skills required to make his way in life. (Read more.)

Viking Women

There is new evidence that the Vikings brought their wives with them when they raided and invaded. To quote:
Interpretations of the grave goods has relied upon swords meaning male and brooches meaning female. When both swords and brooches were found, the individual was assumed male with a female offering, although McLeod argues that there is no feasible reason why a woman couldn’t be buried with a sword. When comparing analysis done by osteological assessment against the grave good based assessment, McLeod found that the ratio of males to females was more equal. Using skeletal materials to sex an individual can be difficult if the remains are fragmentary or damaged, but it is more reliable than interpreting sex from grave goods which are assigned by unknown cultural standards rather than biology. McLeod’s reanalysis of the skeletal remains from Repton and Heath Wood show that it was more likely that the ratio of males to females was even, and that the mistakes in interpretation was more likely the fault of equating grave goods and gender with biological sex. From this evidence McLeod argues that women did accompany the men on the two great invasions from 876 to 896. This also changes interpretations of the past where it was thought that Norse males intermarried with Anglo-Saxon females. If the men were bringing their wives, it is less likely that the proposed intensive intermarriage occurred. (Read more.)
And here is an article from Irish Archaeology about the burial ship of a Viking queen.

Centrally placed on the ship were the skeletons of two women whose remains had been placed in a specially built wooden tent. One of the woman was in her eighties[ii] and this was reflected in the condition of her bones which showed that she had suffered badly from arthritis during her final years. The second woman was younger and had died in her early fifties[iii].The connection between the two women is unclear; it is possible that they were related or more sinisterly represent the remains of a noble woman interred with her sacrificed slave. Indeed, some have speculated that one of the women may be Queen Åsa, the grandmother of Norway’s first king, although this remains unproven. - See more at: http://irisharchaeology.ie/2012/09/the-oseberg-viking-ship-burial/#sthash.srvjXTmL.dpuf

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Marie-Antoinette loved the Chinese style. Share

Our Best Holiday Manners

It's time for a review. From Gio:

Refrain from making a noise when eating, or supping from a spoon, and from smacking the lips or breathing heavily while masticating food, as they are marks of ill-breeding. The lips should be kept closed in eating as much as possible.

It is rude and awkward to elevate your elbows and move your arms at the table, so as to incommode those on either side of you.

Whenever one or both hands are unoccupied, they should be kept below the table, and not pushed upon the table and into prominence.

Do not leave the table before the rest of the family or guests, without asking the head, or host, to excuse you, except at a hotel or boarding house.

Tea or coffee should never be poured into a saucer to cool, but sipped from the cup.

If a person wishes to be served with more tea or coffee, he should place his spoon in his saucer. If he has had sufficient, let it remain in the cup.

If by chance anything unpleasant is found in the food, such as a hair in the bread or a fly in the coffee, remove it without remark. Even though your own appetite be spoiled, it is well not to prejudice others.

Always make use of the butter-knife, sugar-spoon and salt-spoon, instead of using your knife, spoon or fingers.

Never, if possible, cough or sneeze at the table.

At home fold your napkin when you are done with it and place it in your ring. If you are visiting, leave your napkin unfolded beside your plate.

Eat neither too fast nor too slow.

Never lean back in your chair, nor sit too near or too far from the table.

Keep your elbows at your side, so that you may not inconvenience your neighbors.

Do not find fault with the food.

The old-fashioned habit of abstaining from taking the last piece upon the plate is no longer observed. It is to be supposed that the vacancy can be supplied, if necessary.

If a plate is handed you at the table, keep it yourself instead of passing it to a neighbor. If a dish is passed to you, serve yourself first, and then pass it on.

The host or hostess should not insist upon guests partaking of particular dishes; nor ask persons more than once, nor put anything on their plates which they have declined. It is ill-bred to urge a person to eat of anything after he has declined.

When sweet corn is served on the ear, the grain should be pared from it upon the plate, instead of being eaten from the cob.

Strive to keep the cloth as clean as possible, and use the edge of the plate or a side dish for potato skins and other refuse. (Read more.)

The Anger of Fatherless Sons

From PJLifestyle:
Anakin was doomed from the start, being born as he was by the will of the Force, and not by the seed of a present father. So we may conclude after considering a recent study from the journal Cerebral Cortex. Here’s the summary from The Christian Post:
The absence of fathers during childhood may lead to impaired behavioral and social abilities, and brain defects, researchers at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada, found.… 
The researchers found that the mice raised without a father had abnormal social interactions and were more aggressive, compared to the mice raised with a father. The effects were stronger among daughters than sons.
Being raised without a father actually changed the brains of the test subjects. The research found defects in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which controls social and cognitive functions, of the fatherless mice.
Mice were used because their environment could be controlled to ensure that the effects of fatherlessness were measured accurately. Plus, their response apparently proves “extremely relevant to humans.”

The real finding here affirms the human capacity for needless studies to confirm what plain sense makes clear. Kids need their Dad. (Read more.)

Here is a post from the Women of Grace blog about how most of the shooters in the past year have been fatherless young men.

Author Emily Stimpson writes about the masculine genius and how we must reaffirm the dignity of men which has been crushed by the feminization of society. To quote:
In the essay, Meconi goes on to detail some of the reasons men need that articulation. Most have to do with an American culture that infantilizes men with video games, reduces them to their appetites through pornography, mocks chastity, discourages commitment, sexualizes friendship, feminizes emotion, drugs boisterous little boys, and portrays TV dads as lovable but incompetent boobs....

The Church teaches that while most men are called to be fathers in body, all men are called to be fathers in spirit. All men are called to be spiritual fathers—in the workplace, the schools, the gym, the public square, and the churches.

That is to say…

…All men should be protectors of women, respecting them, honoring them, and never using them.

….All men should be defenders of the defenseless, fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves—the unborn, the sick, the elderly, the poor, the weak.

….All men should challenge the men and women who surround them—their siblings, friends, co-workers, and employees—to do the right thing or the hard thing. They should push people forward, encouraging them and helping them to be better than they are.

…All men should themselves do the hard things—face their fears, stand up for what’s right, walk away from sin, confess their weaknesses, honor their promises, marry the girl, take the risk, forgive the prodigal, or answer God’s call. (Read more.)
An internationally recognized expert is pointing out what the news media has chosen not to report about this year’s rash of school shootings – almost every shooter was a young man whose parents were divorced or were never married.

W. Bradford Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia who was raised by a single mother, says that most of the school shooters of the past year – from Adam Lanza who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last December to Karl Pierson, who shot a teenage girl and then killed himself this past Friday at Arapahoe High in Centennial, Colorado – were essentially fatherless.
“The social scientific evidence about the connection between violence and broken homes could not be clearer,” he writes in this oped, entitled “Sons of Divorce: School Shooters” and appearing on National Review Online.
“My own research suggests that boys living in single mother homes are almost twice as likely to end up delinquent compared to boys who enjoy good relationships with their father.”
His studies are certainly borne out by the hard evidence collected on the shooters who have been involved in the past year’s deadly school shootings.
- See more at: http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=26509#sthash.jYlavm9m.dpuf
An internationally recognized expert is pointing out what the news media has chosen not to report about this year’s rash of school shootings – almost every shooter was a young man whose parents were divorced or were never married.

W. Bradford Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia who was raised by a single mother, says that most of the school shooters of the past year – from Adam Lanza who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last December to Karl Pierson, who shot a teenage girl and then killed himself this past Friday at Arapahoe High in Centennial, Colorado – were essentially fatherless.
“The social scientific evidence about the connection between violence and broken homes could not be clearer,” he writes in this oped, entitled “Sons of Divorce: School Shooters” and appearing on National Review Online.
“My own research suggests that boys living in single mother homes are almost twice as likely to end up delinquent compared to boys who enjoy good relationships with their father.”
His studies are certainly borne out by the hard evidence collected on the shooters who have been involved in the past year’s deadly school shootings.
- See more at: http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=26509#sthash.jYlavm9m.dpuf

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mistletoe Madness, 1796

From author Isabella Bradford:
In modern holiday celebrations, mistletoe has become something of a kitsch-y joke, the inevitable prop for I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus humor.

But in the 1790s, when the print, left, was published, mistletoe still had an aura of wickedness, even danger. The ancient Druidic traditions linking mistletoe and fertility had not been forgotten, and kissing beneath the mistletoe was thought to lead to more promiscuity, or even - shudder! - marriage.

Certainly the four merry young  couples in this print appear to be enjoying themselves. Some scholarly descriptions refer to this as a dance scene, and perhaps it does show nothing more than a particularly rollicking country dance. (Read more.)

The Many Faces of Mothers

In Georgian England. To quote:
One way in which women defined themselves through mothering was to use the language of ‘sensibility,’ that fashionable mode of being that influenced the period. For example, in her memoir, written at the end of her too short life, the marvellous Mary Robinson [1758-1800] described herself as a ‘parent whose heart is ennobled by sensibility’. She used the language of feeling to describe her new sense of self at the birth of her daughter. It awoke:
‘a new and tender interest in my bosom, which presented to my fondly beating heart my child, – my Maria. I cannot describe the sensations of my soul at the moment when I pressed the little darling to my bosom, my maternal bosom.’
Mary was not alone in this and like others was using a familiar cultural ideal of the ‘tender mother’. Tender was the adjective most often applied to mothers (and fathers) in the period. It conveyed depth of love, compassion, and care and other characteristics of ideal motherhood which were more abstract than material. These were feelings that were part of the culture of sensibility, including the shedding of tears, shuddering, extreme sensitivity, and movement of hearts. Crucially, Mary was able to use maternity in her memoirs as part of her construction of a more palatable public self-image at the end of her life as a female author formed by the culture of sensibility. This was obviously intended to offer a different public identity to her earlier one as high-class courtesan which centred on her scandalous relationships with a series of high-profile men. [2] (Read more.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Mystery of Emily Dickinson

From New Republic:
Emily Dickinson is a conspicuous victim of a scholastic tendency to freeze our concepts of a writer's life, perhaps because a frozen concept is easier to grasp, and to pass on, than those more slippery and troublesome non-objects known as artists. There are music-listening courses that use the tags of "Papa Haydn" and "the charming Mozart," and courses in American literature have developed similar labels whose harm far outweighs their convenience. Our Emily is in much the same position as that “comical Mark Twain” before Van Wyck Brooks showed him, newly and darkly, to us. Our Emily, of course, unaware of community and nation, never sees anyone, never wears any color but white, never does a lick of work about the house beyond baking batches of cookies for secret delivery to favorite children and meditating majestically among her flowers—this is an Emily who remains hidden in her second-floor bedroom, jotting down little verses that help her to keep alive the great love that she renounced many, many years since. This is the image foisted on us for so long that we now accept it as fact; we not only suspect anything we hear that does not “fit,” but we criticize Miss Dickinson for being this absurd fiction. (Read more.)

Queen Charlotte and the Christmas Tree

From History Today:
Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, is usually credited with having introduced the Christmas tree into England in 1840. However, the honour of establishing this tradition in the United Kingdom rightfully belongs to ‘good Queen Charlotte’, the German wife of George III, who set up the first known English tree at Queen’s Lodge, Windsor, in December, 1800.

Legend has it that Queen Charlotte’s compatriot, Martin Luther, the religious reformer, invented the Christmas tree. One winter’s night in 1536, so the story goes, Luther was walking through a pine forest near his home in Wittenberg when he suddenly looked up and saw thousands of stars glinting jewel-like among the branches of the trees. This wondrous sight inspired him to set up a candle-lit fir tree in his house that Christmas to remind his children of the starry heavens from whence their Saviour came.

Certainly by 1605 decorated Christmas trees had made their appearance in Southern Germany. For in that year an anonymous writer recorded how at Yuletide the inhabitants of Strasburg ‘set up fir trees in the parlours ... and hang thereon roses cut out of many-coloured paper, apples, wafers, gold-foil, sweets, etc.’ (Read more.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dictionary of Medieval Latin

From The Guardian:
A monumental dictionary of medieval British Latin has been completed after a century of research and drafting, in a project that spanned the careers of three editors and a small army of contributors.

The 17th, and final, part of The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources is published this week, drawing on more than 1,400 sources from the sixth to the 16th century, including the Domesday Book, the Magna Carta and the Bayeux tapestry.
Latin was used for writing and record-keeping across Europe by clergy, scientists, philosophers, and lawyers for more than a thousand years after the fall of the Roman empire. Medieval British Latin was particularly distinctive because it was affected by the diversity of native spoken languages, including English, French, Irish, Norse, and Welsh.
"If they didn't know the Latin word for something, it was very common to borrow it from the everyday language," said Richard Ashdowne, current editor of the dictionary, who took over in 2011 from David Howlett when he retired after 31 years on the project. "We came across lots of examples of where an Old English or Middle English word turns up in writing in Latin text, and only later in writing in English."

One such is the British medieval Latin word "huswiva", which was found in a survey of 12th-century Latin documents in the Diocese of Durham, referring to a lady of the house who was exempt from the obligation to reap the harvest. The word, which combines the Old English words for house, "hus", and woman/wife, "wif", first appears in written English 100 years later.

Another, "rennet", the animal extract used to curdle milk, appeared in 1276 and 1352 in British Latin, but not until 1450 in written English.

"This is the first ever comprehensive description of the vocabulary of the Latin language used in Britain and by Britons between AD 540 to 1600," Ashdowne said. "For the last 100 years, the project has been systematically scouring the surviving British medieval Latin texts to find evidence for every word and all its meanings and usage. Much of this fundamental work was done in the early years of the project by a small army of volunteers, including historians, clergymen, and even retired soldiers; they provided the project with illustrative example quotations copied out from the original texts onto paper slips – an early form of crowd-sourcing." (Read more.)
Here is an article of how the Hundred Years War influenced the English language. To quote:
During the same time period that the battles of Crecy and Poitiers were fought, schools began to use English in the classroom as a medium with which to teach Latin. And in 1363, a couple years after the treaty of Bretigny, “parliament was opened by a declaration of the summons in the native tongue,” something that had previously always been done in French. According to the philologist Oliver Farrar Emerson, “Soon English petitions to parliament, English wills, letters, and gild statutes appear.”

Because of the war with France, the language of English began to be used by all levels of English society for all manner of purposes. Books were the last hold out. But by the last quarter of the century, Geoffrey Chaucer showed that the vernacular could be a fitting vehicle for great literature, and English began to be used in that arena as well.

The change in language effected by the Hundred Years' War was radical. At the beginning of the fourteenth century, French was the accepted language of all formal discourse in England. By the end of the fourteenth century, Oxford University was forced to urge the learning of French “lest the Gallic tongue be utterly forgotten.” (Read more.)

Christmas in the Workhouse

From Workhouse Tales:
In the years following the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, the central authorities in London ruled that no extra food or drink should be given to paupers in workhouses at Christmas. Many local poor law unions ignored this directive including the guardians of Swansea Union. In 1837, The Cambrian newspaper reported that: ‘The paupers of Swansea Union were regaled on Christmas Day with an excellent dinner of roast beef and plum pudding, by a few individuals who subscribed the necessary sum for the laudable purpose’. (Read more.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Cartoons of Flannery O'Connor

From Brain Pickings:
When she was about five, O’Connor began cartooning, creating small books, and writing comical sketches, which she illustrated with her own drawings. Like William Faulkner, whose little-known, gorgeous Jazz Age drawings graced his college newspaper, O’Connor also contributed artwork to school publications throughout high school and college, earning a reputation as a cartoonist before she became a famous writer. The latter she had tragically little time to enjoy — O’Connor was diagnosed with lupus at the very beginning of her career as a writer, when she was only twenty-five, and spent the remaining twelve years of her life on her mother’s farm in rural Georgia, writing feverishly and traveling to give more than sixty public lectures. But the artwork she began creating in the early 1940s, shortly before entering graduate school at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, exudes its own magic and reveals O’Connor’s remarkable talent as a diverse creator. Her cartoons, created mostly in pen and ink and linoleum cuts, poke humor at student life and comment on the profound impact of WWII. Underpinning her visual art is the same distinct blend of humor and uncompromising fierceness that makes her literary style so singular and so memorable. (Read more.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Les Santons de Provence

The "little saints" of Provence are part of a beloved Christmas tradition that dates back to the dark days of the French Revolution. To quote:
Around one hundred workshops still carry on the tradition of making the santons de Provence. The oldest santon Fair, started in Marseille in 1803 and running every year from mid-November to the end of December, is still highly successful today.

But what is a Santon?

Small brightly coloured figures for nativity scenes, "santouns" or "small saints" first appeared in Provence at the end of the 18th century, representing not only the Nativity scene, the Kings and Shepherds, but also a whole series of everyday characters from old Provence and their traditional trades.

The History of the Santons

In order to understand where they came from, we must start with the invention of the first nativity scene, traditionally attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi who is said to have asked the inhabitants of his village of Grecchio, in 1223, to play the parts of the characters in the Nativity. The first nativity scenes with figurines then appeared in churches around the 16th century. But after the French Revolution, which suppressed the midnight mass, the nativity scene, until then a large-scale affair, was reduced in size to a miniature scene that families could create at home. A small industry developed making the figurines. It was at this point that the santons appeared in Provence.

The Provençal Nativity Scene

Originally, the nativity scene was limited to the characters in the Nativity itself. The makers of santons took their inspiration from the people of Provence to create new characters. Just to mention a few: there is Boufareu, the angel who guides people to the stable; the blind man who suddenly regains his sight; the pot-bellied, bald priest, from the neighbouring parish; Marius, a central character who, like Alphonse Daudet's character Tartarin de Tarascon, is very talkative; there is also the gypsy girl, the fisherman, the water carrier, the holy fool, the grinder and many more. (Read more.)
More HERE.


Crossbow vs Longbow

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
The longbow was a formidable weapon during the Middle Ages and thus changed the nature of warfare.  At the Battle of Crecy, which was fought on August 26, 1346, King Edward III decisively won against a superior French army.  The French had been harrying the English Army and there was a skirmish at the ford of Blanche-taque (white stones) on the River Somme the day before.  Edward’s army was exhausted and running low on food, however, after fording the river there was clear path for retreat to Flanders if necessary.

At Crecy, Desmond Seward writes concerning Edward’s forces, “His army, now somewhat reduced, consisted of about 2,000 men-at-arms and perhaps 500 light lancers together with something like 7,000 English and Welsh bowmen and 1,500 knifemen—approximately 11,000 men, though estimates vary.”1  It should be noted how skewed his army was in favor of the archers.

But Edward III was familiar at this point with the longbow’s capabilities and what a four-sided steel point, called a bodkin, could do.  A bowshot was approximately 150 yards and could pierce armor at around 60 yards.2  Modern calculations give us a glimpse into the longbow’s raw power and disproves skepticism.  Seward writes, “With a typical war bow, having a draw-weight of 80-100 lb, the instantaneous thrust on the string at the moment it checks the forward movement of the two limbs when it is shot is in the order of 400 lb, so it needed to have a breaking strain of about 600 lb to allow an adequate safety margin.”3

It becomes clear that the closer an archer is to his target the greater the damage and, this was accomplished by a seemingly innocuous wooden stave from a yew tree. The descriptions of the longbow in this piece are typical.  Where yew was unavailable, there were other species of trees that were good substitutes.  Other sources differ slightly on the range, draw-weight, and length of the bow; however, there is no dispute that the English Longbow revolutionized medieval warfare.  Its use shifted the paradigm: armor improved, battlefield strategies were modified and, during the Hundred Years War, the English armies were victorious in the majority of the battles (though they never gained the French crown). (Read more.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Separation of Louis XVI from His Son

One of the most difficult moments for the French Royal Family during their imprisonment was when Louis was isolated from his family. Louis-Charles had been staying with him but when the boy was removed and sent to live with the women of the family it was extremely painful for the King. From Reading Treasure:
His Majesty walked hastily up and down his room for some moments; then he seated himself in an arm-chair close to the head of his bed; the door was half closed and the municipal dared not enter, to avoid, as he told me, questions. Half an hour passed thus in the deepest silence. The commissioner became uneasy at not hearing the king; he entered softly, and found him with his head on one of his hands, apparently deeply absorbed.

'What do you want?' asked the king, in a loud voice.

'I feared you were ill,' replied the municipal.

'I am obliged to you,' said the king, in a tone of the keenest sorrow, 'but the manner in which my son has been taken from me is infinitely painful to me.'

The municipal said nothing and withdrew
. (Read more.)

Abandoned Castles in France

Still standing, but for how much longer? To quote:
 France is home to thousands of medieval castles, some that are prominent tourist sites or serve as hotels or lavish homes. However, there are hundreds of these sites that have been abandoned and left to slowly ruin. One website is documenting these places in hopes that it will lead to some conservation efforts.

Abandoned France was started in 2009 by John S. (he doesn’t want his last name revealed), in which he visits sites across the country that have been left to ruin. They range from castles and churches to industrial factories and train stations. Many date back to the Middle Ages.

“I was amazed how something of so much beauty could be just left to fall down,” explained John, who has been visiting these sites and taking photos and videos of them. At one 500-year old ruin, “the lady who owns the chateau had her young husband lose his life there, and she walked away never to return vowing to let the castle fall. Local historians I spoke too you say she has never returned, but each year on Boxing Day I return to photograph what is left hoping she may see what it has become and finally pass it on.” (Read more.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hunting with the Dauphin

Louis-Auguste and Marie-Antoinette hunt together. Share

Age of Distraction

From MindShift:
Digital classroom tools like computers, tablets and smartphones offer exciting opportunities to deepen learning through creativity, collaboration and connection, but those very devices can also be distracting to students. Similarly, parents complain that when students are required to complete homework assignments online, it’s a challenge for students to remain on task. The ubiquity of digital technology in all realms of life isn’t going away, but if students don’t learn how to concentrate and shut out distractions, research shows they’ll have a much harder time succeeding in almost every area.

“The real message is because attention is under siege more than it has ever been in human history, we have more distractions than ever before, we have to be more focused on cultivating the skills of attention,” said Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence and other books about social and emotional learning on KQED’s Forum program.

“Children I’m particularly worried about because the brain is the last organ of the body to become anatomically mature. It keeps growing until the mid-20s,” Goleman said. If young students don’t build up the neural circuitry that focused attention requires, they could have problems controlling their emotions and being empathetic." (Read more.)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Snow in Frederick County, Maryland

From the Chartreuse Life blog. A Frederick County farmhouse in the snow. Share

A Disturbing Trend

There is a rise in infanticide, as well as abandoned babies, evils of the past which have returned to our contemporary world with a vengeance. To quote:
Today the body of a baby was discovered in the bag of a 17-year-old teen suspected of shoplifting at a Victoria's Secret store in Manhattan. People are rightly shocked by this event.

However, what if I told you that this sort of thing is happening routinely, all across the country, as well as in other parts of the world? And that the only reason that it's making national headlines this time is because the discovery of the baby's body was at a Victoria Secret store, which gives the story that extra bizarre twist, with just a hint of weird sexuality, that will grab attention?
(Read more.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

La Belle Gabrielle

A 1907 sketch of Madame de Polignac, Governess of the Children of France. Share

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Funeral of Elizabeth of York

A most beloved English Queen dies and passes into legend. To quote:
The bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral echoed across London, the mournful toll plunging the entire nation into grief. King Henry VII ordered his council to prepare the Queen’s funeral and went into seclusion. Her “departing was as heavy and dolorous as to the King’s Highness as hath been seen or heard of”. “Solemn dirges and Masses of requiems” were heard, Henry ordered 636 masses to be offered for her soul in London alone on the day after her death. Over nine thousand yards of black cloth were ordered for the Great Wardrobe. Her State funeral was one of the most lavish ever seen.

Henry ordered clothing in blue and black, blue being the royal colour of mourning, and even had his books bound in blue velvet. It would be more than a year before the King’s grief would begin to subside, shortly after her death he became seriously ill and was close to death. He emerged a changed man. The Tower of London was abandoned as a royal residence. Every year Henry marked the anniversary of her death. On February 11th a requiem mass would be sung, the bells would be tolled and 100 candles would burn in her honour. He retained the services of Elizabeth’s minstrels, who played for him at every New Year celebration up to his death. (Read more.)

A Child Lost Forever

A father laments his aborted child. As we prepare for the birth of the Divine Child, let us remember the babies lost in abortion. To quote:
And my mind was reeling. What really knocked the wind out of me, what was really incomprehensible, was that what had happened to my baby was perfectly legal. That wouldn’t sink into my head. It was too insane. I got to the payphone, and I called her back. We stayed on until every quarter ran out and the mechanical voice said, “You have sixty seconds. Please deposit more change.” (Read more.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Pandora Gown

From Two Nerdy History Girls:
This lovely robe à la française is from the Think Pink exhibition (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) that I've written about previously here and here. Made of silk taffeta with lace, the gown features the serpentine self-trim, stomacher with bows and lace, and  the deeply flounced petticoat and sleeve ruffles that all were the height of Parisian fashion c. 1760-70. Any European or colonial American lady would have loved to have worn such a gown – except that there's a slight problem with the size. (Read more.)

Whiskey in America

From National Journal:
The Whiskey Rebellion was a critical moment in the life of the new republic. President Washington's use of the military to force payment of the tax demonstrated that the fledgling federal government had real power—and was willing to use it.
But to Hamilton, who conceived it, the tax was about more than raising cash or asserting the central government's authority. It was also a way to reduce alcohol production and consumption. Hamilton wrote in Federalist 12 that a tax on whiskey "should tend to diminish the consumption of it," and that "such an effect would be equally favorable to the agriculture, to the economy, to the morals, and to the health of the society. There is, perhaps, nothing so much a subject of national extravagance as these spirits." Washington agreed: Drinking, he said, was "the ruin of half the workmen in this Country"—even though, as the owner of one of America's largest distilleries, he contributed his share to that ruin. (Read more.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Queen Charlotte in 1769

From Tiny-Librarian. I have the greatest respect and admiration for Charlotte, Queen of England but I do not understand why she is not remembered for luxurious clothes while Marie-Antoinette is, especially when Charlotte's clothes were more lavish than Antoinette's. Even Antoinette's grandest gowns had an air of simplicity. Share

Things Our Parents Did

From Positively Positive:
1. Send thank you notes. Hand written, delivered by the post office ones. I have been trying harder to make sure that I always do this. People really appreciate it.

2. Shake hands. Outside of the business world, people are not good at it at all. We are big huggers, so I don’t shake a lot of hands, but when I get one of those sad, limp ones, I wonder how depressed and unconfident that poor person must be.

3. Collect things, specifically when it comes to kids. When I was little, it was stickers; boys collected baseball cards or comics. When my dad was a kid, he pinned beautiful insect specimens to boards. Collecting teaches organization and responsibility. Today, kids collect video games that they treat poorly.

4. Stand up straight. It literally causes me physical pain to look at the way teenagers carry themselves today. My great great aunt was very tall for a woman when she was young, so she slouched on purpose. I knew her when she was in her nineties, and I saw the results of all of that slouching. The poor woman was hunched.

5. Have dinner parties. They are wonderful. Going out is fun, but there is nothing like having friends over for dinner.

6. Take walks. My husband’s grandparents habitually take a walk after dinner every night. It is such a great thing to do, if only for your own digestion. Our lives are busy, and it is hard to fit in…I know.

7. Have family reunions. When I was a kid, we planned big ones, and they were for that reason only. We got together in the summers just to have a family reunion. It was so much fun.

8. READ! It is my favorite thing! You are clearly reading right now, so maybe you read. Pick out one of your friends who doesn’t read, and buy them a book.

9. Spring clean. I really want to do this, and I have never actually organized a day when the whole family spring-cleans. Windows, floorboards, ceiling fans. Pulling out the stove and the fridge. It might even be worth it to get a few families together and take turns on houses. The guys could concentrate on the power washing and the lawn work.

10. Volunteer. (Read more.)

Whatever Happened to Male Friendships?

From Acculturated:
This is essential, because what these four young men represent is a challenge to the common portrayal of male friendship in our popular culture.  It is difficult to find, especially on television, an example of male friendship (outside of the military or law enforcement) that is neither transactional nor idiotic.  For cheap beer, it’s the wingman trope.  In sitcoms, it’s stupid men doing stupid things in stupid attempts at liberation from wives or girlfriends.  Male friendships, we’re taught, are about finding or fleeing women; they are not valuable in themselves.

In the Tullamore Dew spot, the bride, though beautiful, is an afterthought.  The ad has already achieved its effect before she arrives on the scene.  The implicit promise that is so appealing is not that this whiskey will bring you a beautiful wife, but that it will bring you worthy friends to see you off on that marital journey. (Read more.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cloth of Silver for Caroline and Charlotte

Here is a painting of the unhappy Caroline of Brunswick, the despised wife of George IV, in her wedding dress.

Here is the wedding gown of George and Caroline's daughter, the highly popular and beloved Princess Charlotte.
 More about Princess Charlotte, HERE. Share

The Mother, the Child and the Serpent

Fr. Mark ponders the panacea for the spiritual wounds of child abuse. To quote:

While therapy or some form of counseling is certainly helpful in dealing with the long-term effects of the serpent’s bite, it is not sufficient. Rarely is a complete healing possible through therapy alone. In my experience, most persons struggling with the effects of sexual abuse will suffer recurrent crises, although with time these may become less frequent and less debilitating. The benefit of therapy is in helping the individual to identify what things trigger crises, what things feed into the chaos, and what strategies are effective in countering recurrent difficulties.

Supernatural Means
The Lord God said unto the serpent, I will put enmity between Thee and the Woman, and between thy seed and her Seed, which same shall bruise thy head, alleluia. (Antiphon at the Benedictus on December 8th)
Ultimately, one is obliged to confront the evil, in its origin and in its effects, on spiritual ground and with supernatural means. This is where the adult living with the effects of sexual abuse as a child finds it necessary to identify with the Infant Christ in entrusting himself entirely to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Read more.)

Jacobean, Jacobites, and Jacobins

From The Seventeenth Century Lady:
After Queen Elizabeth I’s death, the direct Tudor line came to an end; and King James of Scotland (descended from Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret Tudor) was named heir to Elizabeth’s throne. Elizabeth, you may know, had James’s mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle.

Now, the Jacobean era had several significant aspects, mainly in the arts. Playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson were creating fabulous plays. John Donne’s and Walter Raleigh’s poems were making people sigh, and philosopher Francis Bacon was thinking about some deep issues. And, perhaps equally important, The King James Bible was also published. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Stays, 1780

From Vive la Reine. Share

Beware of Lazy Stereotypes

From Fr. James Martin, SJ
Oh brother. More lazy stereotypes about celibates. Bill Keller’s op-ed today in The New York Times “Sex and the Single Priest” (ha ha) says that pretty much all celibate priests are lonely and that celibacy “surely played some role” in the sexual abuse crisis. By his own admission, Mr. Keller hasn’t been an active member of the church since around high school. But that’s not the problem with his piece: former Catholics have written perceptively about the church. The problem is that Keller’s article is based largely on the opinions of two priests who left the priesthood and a sister who left her order, and his own speculation about what the celibate life must be like. That’s like writing a piece on marriage and speaking only to divorced men and women. “Yeah,” some of them might say, “married life stinks.”

Maybe it would have been helpful to look at some actual data.  Sure, there is some loneliness in the priesthood--and there are problems in married life too. But the picture that Mr. Keller paints is ridiculous. In the latest survey on priests from the Center for Applied Research on the Apostolate in 2009, 95 percent report they would “definitely or probably choose priesthood again,” up from 79 percent in 1970. Wow. Must be pretty lonely. And as for celibacy “surely” leading to pedophilia and cover-ups, that overlooks the fact that most sexual abuse happens in families, many cases are found in schools and sometimes even in macho places like the Penn State football program. The reasons for the sexual abuse crisis in the church are complex. As they are in families and in schools. But no one says that (a) marriage, (b) teaching or (c) football leads to abuse. Celibacy must be the main culprit in the church, say pundits, because it's so “weird.”

His comment that celibacy deprives "priests of experience that would make them more competent to counsel the families they minister" also would imply that a married person should of course never see a single psychotherapist or an unmarried psychiatrist, since they would be incapable of counseling a married person; or that a prison chaplain would need to have been incarcerated to be "more competent."  It's a limited notion of professional counseling. (Read more.)

Was Marie-Antoinette a Saint?

Marie-Antoinette ascending to Heaven by Elisabeth Vigée-LeBrun
Here is my interview from Christine Niles' wonderful show "Forward Boldly" on BlogTalk Radio about Marie-Antoinette, the Cathars and my current projects. (John Zmirak is on first and then I follow thirty minutes into the program.) I am always being accused of making Marie-Antoinette into a saint just because I do not believe she broke the sixth commandment and committed adultery. In Trianon I show her as a practicing Catholic which we all know does not automatically make a saint. People say that by making the Queen into a saint I strip her of her humanity. So we are only truly human if we are fornicating? But this is the mentality.

How many times have I been told that being a saint is boring? As if any of our saints had boring lives. Some of them probably would have loved to have had boring lives. St. Joan of Arc would have loved to have had a boring life. "I'd rather be home embroidering with my mother" she said.

Marie-Antoinette was, for most of her life, as far as we can tell, a Catholic in good standing. The question is, did she ever rise to heroic virtue? I believe she did. Anyway, enjoy the interview. Share

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Madame Récamier in Art

From Madame Guillotine:
The gorgeous brunette Jeanne-Françoise Julie Adélaïde Bernard, better known as Juliette, Madame Récamier, was born in Lyon on this day in 1777. There are so many representations of Madame from the austere portrait by David, which shows her reclining wide eyed and slightly timidly on a chaise longue to the much softer and more alluringly confident painting by Gérard to countless others, all of which show Madame wearing her trademark simple white gown, which was intended to represent a virginity that it was whispered she did not relinquish until she was in her forties. It was also whispered that the long suffering Monsieur Récamier, who doted on his young wife who was twenty six years his junior, was actually her father and that their marriage, which took place in April 1793 when Juliette was fifteen, was in fact a clever ruse to ensure that his love child would inherit the bulk of his fortune. This, however, has never been proven and is probably just scurrilous gossip of the sort that was endemic during this period. (Read more.)
More about Madame Récamier, HERE and HERE.