Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Lord Darnley Revealed

From The Telegraph:
 Darnley (Henry Stuart) who was described by Mary's courtiers as persistently arrogant, drunken, and petulant was murdered at the age of only 21, eight months after Mary gave birth to their son, James I and VI. On 9 February 1567, his body was discovered in the orchard of Kirk o' Field in Edinburgh, a two-storey house a short walk from Holyrood, where Mary had installed him to recover from smallpox. The house was rocked by explosions after two barrels of gunpowder were placed in a small room under Darnley's sleeping quarters. His corpse, dressed in nightclothes, and that of his valet William Taylor, were found in the orchard surrounded by a cloak, a dagger, a chair and a coat. The bodies appeared unharmed by the blast, and it was determined that the two men had been strangled as they tried to flee the smoking ruins. (Read more.)

Gender Ideology and Child Abuse

From C-Fam:
“Facts – not ideology – determine reality,” the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) said in a warning to legislators and educators about the dangers of surgical and medical sex change operations to children.

“Conditioning children into believing that a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse,” the physicians said, “Rates of suicide are twenty times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBTQ – affirming countries.”

The group, which aims at getting parents involved in their children’s health and education about health, said, “Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one,” and that, “A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking.”

To the contrary, the group maintained that human sexuality is a “binary trait” and said the XY and XX chromosomes that determine female or male sex are “genetic markers of health” not “genetic markers of a disorder.”

“No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex,” the statement said. The American Academy of Pediatricians, the larger professional society from which the ACP broke away in 2002, has surgical and medical interventions in youth to suppress the hormones that naturally cause girls to grow into women and boys to men.

The ACP says this change in position has put American teens at higher risk for physical and mental illness.  “Puberty is not a disease and puberty-blocking hormones can be dangerous…as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty,” the ACP pointed out, and noted that children who use puberty blockers to “impersonate the opposite sex” will require cross-sex hormones in late adolescence that in turn can cause dangerous health risks such as high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke and cancer. (Read more.)


From Archaeology News Network:
Archaeologists have unearthed walls about 1m (3ft) thick at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall in the first excavation of a five-year English Heritage project. It is thought the walls formed part of the seat of the rulers of the early medieval kingdom of Dumnonia. Winn Scutt from English Heritage said it was a "very dense settlement".
"It's a complex of buildings and many people since the 1980s have argued that it's a royal centre, and that it's the royal centre of the kingdom of Dumnonia", the properties curator said. (Read more.)


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Celebrating Hitchcock

From Enchanted Revelries:
Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades and is often regarded as the greatest British filmmaker. He came first in a 2007 poll of film critics in Britain's Daily Telegraph, which said: "Unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to emerge from these islands, Hitchcock did more than any director to shape modern cinema, which would be utterly different without him. His flair was for narrative, cruelly withholding crucial information (from his characters and from viewers) and engaging the emotions of the audience like no one else." Prior to 1980 there had long been talk of Hitchcock being Knighted for his contribution to film. Critic Roger Ebert wrote: "Other British directors like Sir Carol Reed and Sir Charlie Chaplin were knighted years ago, while Hitchcock, universally considered by film students to be one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, was passed over". Hitchcock was later to receive his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in the 1980 New Year Honours. In 2002, the magazine Movie Maker named Hitchcock the most influential filmmaker of all time. (Read more.)

Trump and the Pharisees

From James Patrick Riley:
And I would ask you to look to your Bibles again. God uses some pretty gritty characters to work His glorious and sovereign will. Jacob was a trickster who lied to his father. Abraham had wives and concubines.  Samson kept a harlot.  Solomon had hundreds of concubines.  Peter betrayed Christ.  Saul of Tarsus, was a murderous wretch.

You actually know all about that, but when you see a flawed man, in the flesh, you act just like a stoning torch mob, and you won’t even admit it.

Jesus knew all about this dismissive, self-righteous character of ours.  He knew our nature.  He knew there’s a Pharisee spirit in us that takes pride in being faithful to our wives, even as our horn-dog spirit wrestles with Donald Trump’s beauty pageants.  Are we righteous, or just jealous?  When the harlot adorns Jesus’ feet with precious ointment, are we accusing or praising God for forgiveness?

Donald Trump is more righteous than you think.  He wants to protect you from Islamic zealots.  He wants to protect your right to defend your families with firearms.  He even wants to exempt your pulpits from IRS tyranny.   He wants to end the death tax, so you can pass on your farms and your family business to your children.  He wants to lower your taxes.  He wants to protect the lives of unborn children and appoint Constitutional judges.

But you and Max Lucado don’t like his style. (Read more.)

Celtic Music, Part I

From Mark Fisher:
My first exposure to really good Irish music was on our first night in Ireland in June 2014. My wife and I just had flown into Dublin, rented a car, and navigated the narrow roads and left-hand-side-of-the-road driving. My white-knuckled wife wondered the whole way if this were her last day on earth. But lo, we did arrive safely at our B&B in Kilkenny. After a short nap and supper, we found Kyteler’s Inn, one of the oldest inns in Ireland. There we landed a seat, grabbed a Guinness, and sat down to hear the traditional Irish music of the Raglan Rogues. It’s just two guys playing guitar, mandolin, banjo, Irish flute, and sometimes the tin whistle Their stringed instruments were unknown to the ancient Celts. Nevertheless they are keeping alive the spirit, rhythm, and sound of Celtic musical culture. (Read more.)

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Photographer's Blog

An interview with Anita Pelayo Rivera on Castles, Crowns and Cottages. Via Marie Arden.


How Donald Trump Saved New York City

From The New York Post:
Trump waded into a landscape of empty Fifth Avenue storefronts, the dust-bowl mugging ground that was Central Park and a Wall Street area seemingly on its last legs as companies moved out. Except in Battery Park City, which was then as remote as an offshore island, few other developers built anything but plain-vanilla office and apartment buildings. Trump — almost by force of will — rode to the rescue. Expressing rare faith in the future, he was instrumental in kick-starting the regeneration of neighborhoods and landmarks almost given up for dead. Many of his brainstorms were ahead of their time. Some — like his struggle beginning in the early 1970s to build what’s now called Riverside South — were so far ahead, it can be hard to connect the dots between Trump’s works and the neighborhood transformations they spawned and inspired years later. (Read more.)

How to be a Man in a Sea of Boys

From James Michael Sama:
In a world where chivalry and courtship seem to be the stuff of history books, and men complain that they shouldn’t have to pay for dinner if women want equality – it is plain to see that we need to bring some dignity back to dating and relationships. My belief is that there are so many mixed messages about what women want in a relationship, that we, as guys, can easily get confused. Does she want her independence? Does she want to be courted? Will she be offended if you pick up the whole bill? But then if you don’t, you never get that second date. What gives?

The truth is, gentlemen, that the basic fundamentals of courtship have remained the same over time. The idea is to set yourself apart by showing a woman that you are genuinely interested in her, and are willing to put in consistent effort – not just during the first few dates, but over time (potentially forever). If this sounds like a lot of work to you, consider this: A woman who loves and cares for you will always exceed or match your efforts. Teamwork makes the dream work. It is far more fulfilling to put effort into one relationship with a woman you truly love, than it is to put effort into always meeting a new woman a few months later because you didn’t give someone the attention she deserved.

As a gentleman in the modern era, you immediately set yourself apart by how you carry yourself, how you present yourself, and how you treat others. Being a gentleman is nothing more than holding higher standards for yourself than most of the population, this is why being a male is a matter of birth, being a man is a matter of age, but being a gentleman is a matter of choice. But let’s cut to the chase, what can you do, realistically, in today’s dating world to attract a mature woman who is tired of playing games? (Read more.)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Great Delacroix

From Geri Walton:
Supporting the rumors that Talleyrand was Delacroix’s real father is the fact that Talleyrand was a well-known womanizer. It was also reported that “Delacroix looked like Talleyrand, exhibited many of his behavioral traits, and was anonymously supported by the foreign minister during his early years.” However, today most contemporary historians who have examined this father-son connection do not believe Delacroix was Talleyrand’s son.

Although Delacroix’s paternity may be interesting, what is perhaps more intriguing is four numerous near-death experiences Delacroix experienced by the age of three. The first of these occurred when his nurse fell with him in her arms into the sea. She was saved by some courageous sailors, who were said to be the cause of the calamity in the first place, as she was more attentive to them than herself or Delacroix. The next unfortunate incident resulted in Delacroix suffering serious injuries after almost being burnt to death in his cradle that caught fire. The third event occurred when someone accidentally left verdigris out and he decided to try it. If these three incidents were not frightening enough, Delacroix supposedly added to them one day when he decided to hang himself so he could feel the sensation. Luckily, someone found him and saved him in the nick of time. (Read more.)

Temples of Sedition

From The Vortex:
Hillary Clinton is evil. There is no other way to say the reality. She is evil.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen made the perfect distinction between someone who is bad, and someone who is evil. A bad person does bad things — steals, lies, cheats. An evil person seeks to destroy goodness, virtue, honor, decency, morality and truth. 

That the United States will have an evil person such as her as the next leader is a heart-stopping notion. Obama was the warm-up act to this evil woman. Like goodness, there is a hierarchy to evil as well. Not all evil is equally malicious, just as all good is not equally sublime. And barring an act of God, she will be the next president of the United States. This Luciferian candidate has the Luciferian media backing her nearly completely. And a nation which has given itself over to every Luciferian act imaginable sees no big deal.

For Donald Trump to pull this out at this point would be the greatest comeback in U.S. political history. Look at this map, if you can stomach it. Between the states where Clinton has a commanding lead — meaning more than 20 points — and then the states heavily leaning in her favor — meaning more than 10 points — she already has more than the required 270 electoral college votes to win — 272, to be exact.

And on top of all this, even if she lost Ohio, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, she would still win the White House, because those states are still toss-ups. mostly leaning slightly toward her, but still uncertain.

The point is: She doesn't need to win those states to win the presidency. She is so far down the road with electoral college votes from huge, populous states already in the bag that the reality exists that she has it in the bag before the battle has even begun.

Could things change in some "never before seen in history" kind of way? There's always hope — but we are moving out of the realm at this point of a reasonable hope to a virtually despairing hope. Faithful Catholics have to begin picturing their faith lives under evil Hillary. Trump's almost comical characterization of crooked Hillary doesn't even come close.

This is the woman who declared out loud that religious beliefs were going to have to change — to accommodate her diabolical world view. And she's just the agent of Hell to do it. This is the woman who has said repeatedly that it isn't freedom of religion but only freedom of worshipTo evil Hillary, clusters of faithful Catholics in faithful parishes here and there are temples of sedition, little groups that recognize her for who she is and fight her attempts to destroy goodness and truth and beauty.

Understand, this woman is a tool of Satan. She revels in the blood of innocent children, she accepts awards named after enemies of Christ, like Margaret Sanger, the racist founder of Planned Parenthood. She understands very clearly that the Catholic Church is her enemy because she sets herself up against Our Blessed Lord. (Read more.)

On the Abuse of Divine Mercy

From St. Alphonsus Liquori, quoted by Church Militant:
Saint Augustine says that the devil deludes Christians in two ways: "by despair and hope." After a person has committed sin, the enemy, by placing before his eyes the rigor of divine justice, tempts him to despair of the mercy of God. But, before he sins, the devil by representing to him the divine mercy, labors to make him fearless of the chastisement due to sin. Hence the saint gives the following advice: "After sin, hope for mercy; before sin, fear justice." If, after sin, you despair of God's pardon, you offend Him by a new and more grievous sin. Have recourse to His mercy, and He will pardon you. But before sin, fear God’s justice, and trust not to His mercy; for they who abuse the mercy of God to offend Him do not deserve to be treated with mercy. Abulensis says that the man who offends justice may have recourse to mercy; but to whom can they have recourse who offend and provoke mercy against themselves? (Read more.)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tippi Hedren in the Green Suit

From Clothes on Film:
The green suit worn by Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels in The Birds (1963) has become increasingly symbolic in recent years as we delve ever deeper into the semiotics of film. In this case it is hardly surprising as Hedren only wears three costumes in total; the suit is so visible we cannot fail to draw meaning from its presence. But what was director Alfred Hitchcock trying to say with it, and more importantly, why?

If you visited the V&A’s Hollywood Costume exhibition (now closed in London but moved to Australia and the U.S.), seeing The Birds’ suit would likely have stuck in your mind. It was given prominent placing in room 2, an impressively constructed installation with video recollections from Hedren herself. Yet in real life the suit itself is very basic in style, darker and, dare we say, blander than in the movie. It craves context to bring it to life. (Read more.)

Your Vote is a Moral Instrument

From Laura Ingraham:
 Voting for Trump means that when your country had been in decline for almost two decades, and you had the chance to set the country on a different course, you took it. Voting for Trump means that when you finally had the chance to end the corrupt and decadent Clinton machine, you took it. Voting for Trump means that when you had the chance to write in the history books that the country had rejected the last eight years of President Obama, you took it. Voting for Trump means that when you had the chance to save the First Amendment, and the Second Amendment, and to restore the proper checks and balances that are at risk from another Clinton administration, you took it. Voting for Trump means that when you had the chance to stand up to pro-China billionaires who make money off of a global system that is rigged in favor of a Chinese dictatorship, and rigged against the American worker, you took it. Voting for Trump means saying yes to a 15 percent top corporate tax rate, which will boost American wages and jobs. (Read more.)

The Valhalla State of Mind

From Prospect Magazine:
Such an interpretation holds little plausibility for us today. The “radical” Wagner of Shaw’s imagination sits uneasily with the traditionalism found in his 1867 comedy Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg or the evocation of a religious community in his final work Parsifal (1878). Indeed, during the course of writing the cycle, Wagner came to believe that there could be no political salvation from the ills of civilisation. Like his sometime friend the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, he saw resentment as the default position of human communities, and believed that each of us must achieve redemption for himself, gaining freedom and self-knowledge through our capacity for love. To take this path is difficult. Love condemns us to suffering on another’s behalf; this capacity for sympathetic suffering is the highest human virtue, and the only known justification for our existence. Wagner’s Ring Cycle, in its finished version, is an attempt to convey why we suffer. Seldom has an artistic intention of such magnitude been so convincingly pursued.

The cycle begins in the depths of the Rhine river and also in the depths of the human psyche. It is clear that the meaning of what we witness on the stage is contained also in the music. The sustained meditation on the tonal triad, representing the swirling waters in the depths, is also an invocation of the natural order—the order from which we humans have, both to our loss and our gain, departed. In the Ring tonal harmony is the sound of Eden: pure, unsullied, guiltless. As the cycle develops, dissonance, chromaticism and melodies full of tragic tension replace the pure triads and pentatonic tunes of this supremely beautiful opening. But the pure harmonies and melodies sound always in the background, constantly reminding us of the home that we have lost, and which could never have satisfied us in any case. (Read more.)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ancien Hôtel Baudy

From Victoria:
The courtyard, above, retains an enchanting sense of abandon common to the lush hillside flower gardens cultivated in Giverny at the close of the nineteenth century. Meandering paths, thick with rosebushes and bordered by daisies and Hypericum, reveal clearings where now-legendary painters, such as Paul Cézanne and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, positioned their easels to portray the blossoms that flourish on the property in May and June. Many canvases were completed in the shelter of this rustic vine-covered studio, built in 1887. (Read more.)

There's a Better Way

Putting panhandlers to work. From The Washington Post:
The There’s a Better Way van employs about 10 workers a day but could easily take more. When the van fills, people have begged to get a spot next time, she said. That’s why the city has increased funding for the program to expand it from two to four days a week. And it inspired St. Martin’s to start its own day labor program, connecting the jobless to employers in the area who could offer side jobs.

Tillerson said a lot of the people who get picked up by the van were not aware of all the services available to them. One man who recently got out of prison returned to St. Martin’s the day after taking one of the city’s jobs. She said it enrolled him in the day-labor program, told him about behavioral health services and are helping him get an ID. (Read more.)

On Monks and Pilgrimage

From Fr. Mark:
When one thinks of the Benedictine ideal, one imagines monks behind their enclosure walls, buried deep in a kind of unshakeable stability. In spite of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, one does not usually associate pilgrimages with monks and nuns. Pilgrimages remain exceptional for monks and nuns, but they are not unknown. Many a monastic vocation has been consolidated and restored by sending a man on pilgrimage, and many a monk has obtained special graces while praying in a place sanctified by a sacred image or apparition of the Mother of God, or marked by the miracles wrought by a saints. There are two significant pilgrimages in the life of Catherine–Mectilde de Bar. The first was to a humble Marian sanctuary, and the second was to the famous Mont Saint–Michel. So much for a narrowly legalistic conception of monastic enclosure! The saints are wonderfully free with the sublime freedom of the children of God. They are free within the constraints of the law, and free when obliged to press through its constraints, always acting in obedience to the Church and under the sway of the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts. (Read more.)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sudeley Castle

From Victoria:
On the castle grounds, tendrils of clematis vines wind around seemingly brittle ruins that have endured centuries of weather and war, as well as a number of monarchs. Vestiges of the estate’s earlier days, the stones are what remains of the old Banqueting Hall and the Tithe Barn.

The gardens are simply breathtaking. Elizabeth, Lady Ashcombe, chatelaine of the castle, explains: “Sudeley’s gardens are made up of a collection of cameo gardens, each expressing a theme or period of [the estate’s] history.” Among these botanical inspirations is the Queens’ Garden, named for the four queens who have strolled the grounds, and the Tudor Physic Garden, which contains healing herbs and plants the Tudors and the Elizabethans would have grown. (Read more.)

Porn and Lack of Desire

From Defend Dignity:
Porn users can become sexually triggered, or hyper-reactive, to porn-related cues. This can cause the motivational systems of the brain, which spur us to engage in activities like eating or having sex, to fixate on pornography in a way that results in real-life, partnered, sex failing to meet the users’ expectations.

After all, how could one person in bed compete with Internet pornography’s endless novelty, voyeuristic perspective, and lack of boundaries regarding particular sex acts? Real sex, then, registers in the brain as less arousing than Internet pornography. Even with a desired partner. And therefore, the team stated, “sexual centers of the brain may not produce adequate neurochemical response to attain and maintain an erection or climax without difficulty.” (Read more.)


From Patti Macguire Armstrong:
Billy Lutter tumbled to the wooden floor of his home. His parents picked him up and tried again to help him walk. It was no use. Doctors had been telling the Lutters to institutionalize five-year old Billy for some time. This was 1939 and institutionalization was commonly advised for children with physical and mental disabilities.

Billy’s parents, a steelworker and a homemaker, struggled with the decision to send Billy away. "This was back in the Depression. Things were tough all around,"says Fred Lutter, Billy's older brother by two years. "I was a very tearful situation." Their hearts breaking, the Lutters drove Billy from their home outside of Chicago to a state facility 200 miles away. They visited regularly for a year. But administrators, worried that such meetings upset the residents, advised them to stop coming.
"My brother realized who his parents were. To be left like that was very traumatic," says Fred. “I felt very sad to see my parents in such turmoil." 
The years rolled by. Billy's siblings got married and had their own children.  Everybody thought about Billy, but his name was not spoken. Billy's parents grew old and, as they aged, grew infirm. They had done what they thought was best for Billy, but his absence had left a gaping, raw wound for the family.  (Read more.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Farming in Virginia

From my sister Sarah's blog:
How do I begin to describe the astounding trust and communion with the land that I witnessed last week? Meet the McIntyre family, owners of Goshen Homestead who also work for Roffey Cattle Company. A homestead means living a life of self-sufficiency. Vegetables, fruits, cattle, chickens…all can be found on this gorgeous piece of land about 25 minutes from downtown Abingdon.

Winding my way up the driveway, I found myself speechless from the overcast views of rocky pastures that reminded me of the Irish countryside. You already never want to leave. With 6 laughing children running about the kitchen, I chatted with Stacey and Dwayne, while taking turns holding the 2 and 4 year olds. Stacey was in the middle of roasting coffee beans. Heaven may in fact be a place on earth. Just saying.

After caffeination had taken it’s full affect, we explored the land they call home. With the youngest daughter, Rachel, by my side we walked through the garden, visited cattle, made friends with chickens, and my personal favorite…suited up and got close with some bees. Stacey and Dwayne’s oldest son, Nathan, has taken a fancy to bee-keeping, and boy is he excellent. This fearless 10 year old introduced me to the art of bee-keeping, and what’s abuzz these days with honey. I’m so sorry, I had to.

Over the course of the morning, we talked about modern-day issues that have been bouncing around in all of our heads, such as the rise of allergies and why all of a sudden our bodies can’t tolerate natural foods. Perhaps because our bodies no longer know the difference between natural and processed? It’s all a fast moving train with an evolution of folks attempting to slow it down with every fibre of their being. Our society has decided that slow is bad, fast is good. But by speeding everything up, we are negatively affecting the art and beauty of our natural systems.

Barefoot and smiling, the McIntyre children run to show me the chickens and apple tree. The work here never stops, but neither does the bounty. I feel lucky to have met this beautiful family. They sell at the Abingdon Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, as well as provide the kale for White Birch Juice Company. What can you purchase from these lovely folks? Coffee, pickles on a stick, kombucha scoby, honey, eggs, chicken, beef (I’m currently enjoying a divine tip roast), raw milk and raw cream.

Enjoy the interview and photographic journey! (Read more.)


Rising Violent Crime in America

From The Washington Post:
In June, well before Obama’s remarks and most of the fact-checks of Trump’s claims, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri at St. Louis documented, in a study of 56 major cities conducted for the Justice Department, that homicides were up 17 percent on average. Forty of the cities saw homicides increase, and 12 of those cities saw them increase by more than 50 percent. Furthermore, data collected by the Major Cities Chiefs Association indicate that this trend has continued into 2016. In the first half of the year, homicides are up 15 percent over 2015. Non-fatal shootings (up 4 percent) and aggravated assaults (3.4 percent) both jumped in the first half of the year as well. 

Our own analysis of 20 large cities, gathered directly from publicly available police department data, finds that crime is rising overall, although the increases are spread unevenly across the country. And compared with 2014 lows, some types of violent crimes are not just rising; they are rising at alarming rates. (Read more.)

Military Service in Tenth Century England

From Casting Light Upon the Shadow:
Just as the heriot (war gear) varied according to rank, so the military service requirement differed for men of varying resources. The king had at his disposal his household troops.* Mercenaries were employed, (the career of Thorkell the Tall is evidence of this) but in essence the composition of the fyrd was based on a territorial levy. The requirement was for one man from every five hides of land. Service was basically for sixty days, in a system of rotation, but only in times of war. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 920 tells us that “when this division of the English levies went home, the other came out on military service and occupied the fortress at Huntington.” [5] A landowner with more than five hides of land would be responsible for providing the requisite number of men.

A fine was payable for neglect of military service, and this ‘fyrd-wite’ was set at around forty shillings per man. Commutation, a payment in lieu of service, was lower, at around twenty shillings per obligation. A thegn liable to service could have his lands confiscated if he defaulted. [6] This did not necessarily mean that a thegn had to fight. He could send the required number of men without going himself; he would still be fulfilling his obligation. (Read more.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Uncle Jim and Camp Perry

From CMP:
With over 60 years of marksmanship experience, Jim’s life has taken him all around the country and has allowed him to compete with some of the most recognized individuals in the world of shooting. And, it all began at Camp Perry.

“When I come to Camp Perry, there are a lot of ghosts I know, walking around,” he said. “I’ve had so many highs here.”

His first taste of Camp Perry was in 1955, when he was just 17 years old. Excited to compete in his debut 300-yard match, Jim even skipped his first week of high school just to be able to go to the National Matches. The trip was so successful that by the end, Jim, who was unclassified, left an Expert Marksman.

During his career, he has shot with the Washington State National Guard and the New York National Guard, 71st Regiment. While there, he earned his Master Classification. In 1961, he won the NRA Smallbore Sectional Match in New Jersey and helped lead the New York National Guard to a State Championship title in 1962. That same year, he moved to Baltimore and joined the Maryland State Team which went on to win the Hilton Trophy at Camp Perry for the High National Guard Team in the National Trophy Team Match. (Read more.)

Winter of the Soul

Analyzing Game of Thrones. From Catholic Lane:
More subtly, Game of Thrones can be used to validate Machiavellian politics and shadowy character traits. Instead of mixed characters simply being portrayed as sympathetic due to the human condition, their warped aspects are made to seem acceptable and even heroic. It becomes more important to be “clever” than to be good, which is seen as nothing short of dull and unrealistic. Indeed, not only unrealistic, but illusory. To quote the character Peter Baelish: “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, given a chance to climb, they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”

This monologue summarizes much of the philosophy behind Game of Thrones. Survivors are the ones to root for, even if they get their fingernails dirty in the process. Indeed, true conversion of life and redemption of heart come to be seen as undesirable and simplistic. This is reflected in other popular series such as Wolf Hall, which features Thomas Cromwell as one such sympathetic survivor anti-hero. In contrast, Thomas More, renowned for his moral integrity, is recast as a priggish, masochistic religious fanatic. Moral orthodoxy is swiftly passing out of style, and moral ambiguity (not just within characters, but within themes) is en vogue.

But secondly, perhaps more profoundly, the celebration of anti-heroes simply reflects a growing ambiguity in society’s moral compass in which “gray is okay.” While fallen human nature is a fact of life worthy of sympathy, it is not worthy of applause. Indeed, we have come to the point when we are unable to sympathize with or applaud true acts of virtue and heroism. In the eyes of many, even the historical reality of Thomas More’s courageous refusal to betray his conscience at the cost of his own life simply demonstrated foolishness and a lack of political savvy. Even with all his internal struggles, they find him a bore precisely because he actually did conquer his fears and stand firm in his beliefs. They find more appeal in Cromwell, who might have been willing to sell out his own mother for a farthing, but at least seemed to have “street smarts”…until even he overplayed his hand by hooking up Henry VIII with homely wife number 4, an act of critical misjudgment that cost him his head! (Read more.)

Germ Warfare

From Military History Now:
Muskets might be burnished bright, straps pipe-clayed gleaming white, and boots smartly blacked but a private soldier’s uniform was often dirty and lice infested. Uniform replacements were issued infrequently, at uncertain intervals, so coats and pants were often patched and worn long after they should have been discarded. Lice bred freely and every morning soldiers gathered in groups to rid each other of the pests. Yet eggs hidden in seams hatched and by the end of the day the problem was back. Holding their clothes over campfires forced legions of the vile creatures to leap into the flames, exploding like kernels of popcorn, but often left the already threadbare clothing badly singed. The only truly effective remedy was boiling the uniforms in heavily salted water. This wiped out the lice but was very hard on already tattered uniforms and so was not done nearly often enough.
Lice carried typhus, a deadly disease, but far from the only one which plagued soldiers. Armies were cities in themselves, far larger than most, but without any built in municipal safeguards for health. Thus militaries served as force multipliers for disease. Dysentery and typhoid were common killers, usually arising from drinking polluted water; often caused when fecal matter from the latrines penetrated hastily dug regimental wells or seeped into a local stream used for drinking water. Flies who had been feeding on dead men and horses bore all manner of diseases; in low lying swampy areas, clouds of mosquitoes carried malaria. Prolonged diarrhea, caused by poor food and bad water, was a surprisingly common killer, doing its deadly work through simple dehydration. (Read more.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sub Tuum Praesidium

 We fly to thy protection, O Holy Mother of God! Despise not our petitions in our necessities but deliver us always from all dangers, O ever glorious and blessed Virgin!
From Catholic Pop:
Written originally in Greek, it was used in the 3rd century Coptic Orthodox Christmas liturgy. Amazingly, it is still used today in the Coptic liturgy, as well as the Byzantine, Ambrosian, and Roman liturgies. Regarding the dating, note that the A.D. 250 origin date is simply the earliest point to which we can date this prayer. That doesn’t mean this prayer didn’t exist earlier, and it doesn’t mean there weren’t other Marian devotions in use. But what this shows is that explicit Marian devotion has existed at least since A.D. 250. Also note that the A.D. 250 origin date puts the practice of Marian devotion two decades before Emperor Constantine (b. 272, made emperor in 306) was even born, let alone made emperor. That should put to rest the tired trope that Marian devotion was the result of Constantine bringing pagan ideas and practices into the Church. (Read more.)

Turkish Christians

From CNS News:
You probably know that Turkey, a key NATO ally that is 98 percent Muslim today, has deep Christian roots. The Book of Acts tells us that the followers of Jesus in Antioch, Antakya today, were the first to be called Christians. Revelation’s Seven Churches of Asia were in what is now Turkey. The first seven Ecumenical Councils in church history were held there. The magnificent Hagia Sophia in Constantinople—today, Istanbul—was one of the crown jewels of Christendom, until the city fell to the Ottomans in 1453. For the past 85 years, the Hagia Sophia, under secular rule, has been a museum, a cultural artifact of a proud Christian past. However, Muslim prayers are again being heard from within its walls.

There are other sounds in Turkey, too—the sounds of glass shattering, of fires burning, of shots fired, of people screaming. You likely heard of the failed coup by the military against the Islamist-leaning government of President Recep Erdogan. The government has rounded up or jailed more than 15,000 people suspected of participating in the coup. Scores are definitely being settled.

All of that is bad enough, but we are seeing something else in Turkey common in Muslim-dominant cultures when chaos breaks out: Christians become convenient targets. London’s Express newspaper reports that hardline Sunni Muslims, whipped into a frenzy by imams calling on them to take to the streets, targeted a small, Protestant church in a shopfront in Matalya. Shouting “Allahu Akbar,” the mob smashed the church’s windows, although no one was hurt. (Read more.)

Old Hat

From The Medieval Hunt:
In 1938 they found an old hat. Its was a ordinary felted hat of 18 cm height and a brim with a 46 cm circumference. The hat emerged when a bog was being diked out. The special conditions of bogs can keep textile, especially wool, in a very good condition for a long time. Time went by and it was delivered to the local museum in 1966 where it was dated to around 1600 somewhere, mostly based upon its shape. The hat was carefully conservated and mounted. It was placed in its natural shape and not as it might have been worn. It has a rather distinct shape for 17:th century hats. In 2014 some workers at the museum had started wondering if the hat might not be older  than this. A small piece was cut from the edge of the brim and sent for C14 dating. The test showed that it was from between 1310 and 1440, with a probability peak of around 1400. This makes it one of the best preserved medieval hats in Sweden, Scandinavia and possibly even Europe. (Read more.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ivanka Trump Tells All

From Harper's Bazaar:
She is more forthcoming about what she will do if her father wins. Ivanka most definitely would have a role in a Trump White House, she tells me. "The presidency of the United States is an incredible thing. You have an ability to effectuate change at the highest level. There are issues I am deeply passionate about." Such as? "Well, obviously, I'm a huge advocate for women and women's issues, like child care. The cost of child care is incredibly onerous. In half the country, the cost of child care exceeds the cost of housing. It's the largest expense for households. It's not sustainable or appropriate." Clearly she has her platform thought out.

Presumably Ivanka's husband, the real-estate developer and owner of the New York Observer Jared Kushner, will also be involved. The two are a golden couple by all estimations, but it couldn't have been easy to find the guy not be intimidated by her. "I can't imagine that I would be the person I am today if, over the last seven years, I had been married to somebody who didn't feel 100 percent comfortable with my drive, my ambition, my interest in thinking big and swinging for the fences." (Read more.)

Decline of Civility

From Townhall:
Starting in the 1960s, the values that made for civility came under attack. Corporal punishment was banned. This was the time when the education establishment and liberals launched their agenda that undermined lessons children learned from their parents and the church. Sex education classes undermined family/church strictures against premarital sex. Lessons of abstinence were ridiculed, considered passe, and replaced with lessons about condoms, birth control pills and abortion. Further undermining of parental authority came with legal and extralegal measures to assist teenage abortions, often with neither parental knowledge nor parental consent.

Customs, traditions, moral values and rules of etiquette are behavioral norms, transmitted mostly by example, word of mouth and religious teachings. As such, they represent a body of wisdom distilled through the ages by experience and trial and error. The nation's liberals -- along with the education establishment, pseudo-intellectuals and the courts -- have waged war on traditions, customs and moral values. Many people have been counseled to believe that there are no moral absolutes. Instead, what's moral or immoral is a matter of personal convenience, personal opinion, what feels good or what is or is not criminal.

We no longer condemn or shame self-destructive and rude behavior, such as out-of-wedlock pregnancies, dependency, cheating and lying. We have replaced what worked with what sounds good. The abandonment of traditional values has negatively affected the nation as a whole, but blacks have borne the greater burden. This is seen by the decline in the percentage of black two-parent families. Today a little over 30 percent of black children live in an intact family, where as early as the late 1800s, over 70 percent did. Black illegitimacy in 1938 was 11 percent, and that for whites was 3 percent. Today it's respectively 73 percent and 30 percent. (Read more.)

On Conscience

From Seton Magazine:
Conscience is directly traceable to God; in fact, you could say that conscience bears the imprint of a Creator. As Saint Paul explains in the Letter to the Romans:
“When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them…”
It is important to recognize that the link between Creator and conscience is not merely one of Catholic theologians and Scripture scholars, but practitioners in other fields as well such as anthropology (the study of the nature of man), sociology (the study of the nature of society), and epistemology (the study of the nature of knowledge).

Many practitioners in these fields have regarded this link between Creator and conscience inescapable. In a nutshell, they ask: If there is no God, where in the world—both literally and metaphorically—does conscience come from? For instance, some anthropologists and sociologists ask: Why do all cultures in history consider things like theft and lying wrong? The variables of times, place, and cultural influences may vary, but the constant is that the moral judgment of these behaviors is not exclusively reliant on religious explanations. They often conclude that conscience is a clear cut case of nature—not nurture.

Some epistemologists, those who study the science of knowledge, ask: Where does morality come from? How can we know that good is good, and evil, evil? And how does man, even when he is separated by external religious influences and external moral codes, tell the difference between the two? Of course, the answer is not external, but internal—intrinsic—to man. (Read more.)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Rare Footage of Claude Monet, 1915

From The Vintage News:
From 1883 Monet lived in Giverny, where he purchased a house and property, and began a vast landscaping project which included lily ponds that would become the subjects of his best-known works. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies, first in vertical views with a Japanese bridge as a central feature, and later in the series of large-scale paintings that was to occupy him continuously for the next 20 years of his life In this video, you can see a 74-year-old Claude Monet doing a bit of outdoor painting in his garden at Giverny in 1915. (Read more.)
Water Lilies

The Catholic History of Auschwitz

From Catholic News Agency:
Although the majority of those incarcerated in the death camps were Jews, targeted by the Nazi regime for extermination, many of the victims were Catholics, including priests and religious sisters. St. Maximilian, a Franciscan friar, died in 1941 after asking to take the place of another prisoner who was destined for execution. The following year, Edith Stein, the German Jewish philosopher turned Catholic Carmelite nun, was also killed at Auschwitz, most likely in the gas chambers upon her arrival.

They are joined by countless other Catholics who lost their lives during the Holocaust, many of them for trying to rescue Jews from the Nazis. The sacrifices of these Catholics, both living and dead, were quietly remembered throughout  Pope Francis' pilgrimage to the infamous Auschwitz death camp. He prayed at length in the prison cell where the St. Maximilian had been kept during his incarceration. He also greeted a group known as the “Righteous among the Nations” – non-Jewish men and women who had risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazi extermination.

According according to several biographies, the young St. Maximilian had been personally called to martyrdom by the Virgin Mary. In his account, Mary came to him in an apparition holding two crowns, indicating for him to choose: one was white, representing purity, the other red, for martyrdom. He chose both. (Read more.)


From Funds for Writers:
Grants are the free money everyone wants. Here you’ll find grants that cover a simple conference fee or a six-month retreat to write and get away from it all. Some pay for specifically designed projects and others exercise your ability to match writing with a social cause. No two are alike, so keep coming back to see what might suit your fancy.

These grants are legitimate. But like any market or contest, read the guidelines to make sure you fit the mold. While some of them are for big dreamers who face stiff competition, others provide new talent with opportunity. Find out why FundsforWriters is the specialist on grants available to freelance writers. (Read more.)

Friday, August 19, 2016


I visited Hillwood when I was young and loved it. From Victoria:
In 1955, the heiress purchased the 25-acre property known as Arbremont (renamed Hillwood, after the palatial Long Island estate she had shared with former husband E.F. Hutton) with the express intent of utilizing the neo-Georgian mansion as both a home and a gracious milieu in which to showcase her vast collections. “She felt that her way of life was one that was ‘fast disappearing’ and that there was value in sharing it with the next generations,” says Lynn Rossotti, director of marketing for Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens.

From the moment visitors cross the threshold into the grand entry hall, they are greeted by the regal gazes of Russian royalty peering from portraits and the sparkling visage of a rare French rock-crystal chandelier—the first glimpses of the opulence that fills each elegant room. The dining room holds special allure, with walls of carved-oak paneling serving as a backdrop to four large Dutch paintings depicting hunting scenes. An antique Aubusson carpet lies beneath an enormous mosaic-topped table commissioned from Opificio delle Pietre Dure—the celebrated artistic workshop in Florence, Italy. (Read more.)

Ten Ways to Stop Judging Others

From Patti Armstrong:
1)  When critical thoughts slip into your mind, think about God tuning into your thoughts.  How does it look to him? Consider how it pleases God if you strive to think kindly rather than critically of someone.
(2)  “The measure with which you measure will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:1).  Love others, pray for them to make up for what is lacking and you will receive back from God in full measure.
(3)  When your mind strays to critical thoughts, force yourself to come up with positive attributes about that person.  "Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances"— St. Vincent de Paul.
(4)  If you are a parent, remember how much you love your own children faults and all, and imagine how much his parents love him.  Or perhaps they didn’t love him, which would be tragic and bring out sympathy. In either case, it helps block negative feelings.
(5)  Pray for anyone that irritates you and push the irritation out of your mind.
(6)  Think of the person as a child of God. Remind yourself that God loves them as much as he loves you. (Read more.)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Storied Elegance

From Victoria:
Tucked into the verdant hills of Louisville, Kentucky, Lee Stough’s classic Tudor home evokes thoughts of cozy European country houses with proper pedigrees. Inside each room, streams of light land on carefully culled collections from her various trips abroad. Having grown up in Charlottesville, Virginia, where everyday life is influenced by the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, the noted statesman and a great European traveler in his own right, Lee’s childhood included exposure to the four corners of the globe. Touring with her grandparents throughout Iceland, Scandinavia, Russia, and England opened her eyes to the wondrous beauty possessed by these nations. College treks across France and Italy fully cemented this adoration and beckoned her back as often as possible—even for just a week’s vacation—to these lands she loved. (Read more.)

Europe's Dark Hour

From Chronicles:
To his credit, Herr Spahn at least admits—in referring to “what would come upon us”—that some kind of problem exists. Not so Germany’s ambassador to the Court of St. James’s. Talking to the BBC in the immediate aftermath of a series of deadly attacks by Muslims in Germany last month, which had seen 15 people killed in eight days, H.E. Dr Peter Ammon claimed that the 1.1 people that came to Germany last year have tried hard to integrate: “We see signs of gratitude, we see signs that these people are making their best effort to integrate and of course it is costly. It takes a lot of time and effort but it is working.”

“Signs of gratitude”? Dr. Ammon is deluded and evil in equal measure, but the evil side now prevails. He claims that being grateful to the infidel for any act of kindness—opening the gates of one’s continent to the self-assertive multitudes—is a Muslim trait, but he knows that it is not. Yet he continues lying on a Clintonesque scale. His head will be chopped off with equal zeal and pleasure as that of his less self-hating compatriots. Dr. Ammon does not know, or (far more likely) knows full well but does not care – because he lives in a different world – that far from being “grateful,” Muslim invaders heartily despise Germany and the Germans for being such supine, unmanly, rapable suckers. What exactly is “working”? The inability of unaccompanied young German women to visit public spaces and facilities, such as railway stations, without fear of being gang-raped by wolfpacks of Muslim youths, is certainly working. Nothing else is.

Dr. Ammon further insisted the attacks had nothing to do with terrorism, and that mental health issues were currently the real concern in Germany: “The debate in Germany is not about migrants or even Islam, it is a debate about the growing incidents of mental illnesses among young people . . . [I]f we look at the background of the people who perpetrated these crimes, we see a huge difference so it’s quite clear that in one or two cases we had to deal with people with who are mentally ill. They are not connected to the ongoing debate on terror. These are very different cases.” Thanks to the good Ambassador now we know. That the attackers were all Muslims screaming Allahu akbar!, and in 75% of the cases recent arrivals, is irrelevant. Suggesting a link with Islam, migrants, or terrorism is wrong (actually polizeilich verboten). And his suggestion that “the debate” is what he says it is displays a mix of totalitarian propensity for thought control and wishful thinking. It is on par with a Soviet apparatchik claiming, in 1937, that the “debate” in Moscow is whether the traitors condemned by Vyshinsky is whether they should be shot or hanged. (Read more.)

Can a Historical Novelist Do Too Much Research?

From author Warren Bell:
I love history and actually enjoy doing historical research. I like to root out the exact details of how history unfolded and later subject my characters to events as they really took place. This requires a lot of digging around in both the Internet and into printed material. I especially prize first-hand accounts by people who experienced the times about which I write. Sometimes, I buy used copies of the actual books to gain access to the information I seek. I recently purchased BARBED WIRE SURGEON, the memoirs of Dr. Alfred A. Weinstein, MD, a surgeon who served in the jungle hospitals during the defense of Bataan in 1942. When I write about my Navy Nurse protagonist working in these hospitals in my current project, ENDURE THE CRUEL SUN, I have the advantage of the point of view of someone who was there at the time. Nothing I could make up would be as horrible as the circumstances that actually took place.

My worktable is typically piled high with reference books. I also like to write on my big IMac desktop with my MacBook Air opened to Internet references beside it. When I need to insert a detail, I can usually get to it very quickly. (Read more.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Duc de Penthièvre and Daughter

Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon, Duc de Penthièvre and his daughter, Louise-Adelaïde painted by Jean-Baptiste Charpentier. Share

Brexit, Trump, and Identity

The Catholic World Report:
The case of American identity may shed light on the matter. That identity is far from a human universal, but it evidently has some reality. Growing up in America marked me (to continue with myself as an example) in a way that won't go away, and brought with it unavoidable obligations toward the assemblage of people and institutions that helped make me what I am. So I'm distinctly and indelibly American.

On the other hand, America is a manmade unity rather than a natural fact or a divinely ordained reality, it won't last forever, and it's changed a great deal, along with the principles and spirit that animate it. Further, those who guide it want to move more and more toward open borders and ultimately a borderless world, a change that would eventually make American identity less distinct even than my identity as a Brooklynite.

That's a problem, because while American identity is humanly dispensable, membership in a particular people is not. A people is a population joined by common history, loyalties, institutions, and way of life, and by a sense of common destiny. The existence of particular peoples is a human universal, and they serve a necessary function by providing members with a somewhat coherent framework for life with others that includes mutual loyalties and the common habits, attitudes, and understandings that go by the name of culture.

The culture of a particular people functions in large part by recognizing other aspects of identity and giving them a common interpretation that helps them work together so that people can have a decent way of life. Thus, particular peoples and their cultures normally recognize common humanity, masculinity, femininity, family relations, and religion, and attribute an importance to those things related to their natural and intrinsic function. Until recently, American culture did so as well. Like other cultures, it had flaws, but it had strengths as well, and gave Catholics a place to live and something to work with. (Read more.)

Camping: The Perfect Vacation

From Seton Magazine:
Taking the kids out into the woods eliminates the usual distractions. In the woods, there is no TV (unless you go in a loaded up R.V….so don’t do that!). There is limited cell phone reception, and kids are separated physically and electronically from constant contact with their friends. It’s a natural opportunity for family time.

What my own kids love best about camping are the simple things. They love getting to explore woodsy trails on their bikes, long hikes, swimming in the clear waters of a lake, paddling off in a kayak, learning to build a fire, and staying up late telling stories under the stars. Other ideas for simple family fun while camping include the following. Play tag or teach your kids any of the other forgotten games of childhood such as clapping games or jump rope rhymes. (Read more.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tennyson for Everyone

From Interesting Literature:
Tennyson’s poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’ exists in two versions: a 20-stanza poem published in 1833, and the revised version of 19 stanzas – which is the one readers are most familiar with – which was published in 1842....The poem, partly inspired by Arthurian legend (hence the presence of the knight, Lancelot) and partly by the epic sixteenth-century poem The Faerie Queene written by Edmund Spenser, has been read variously as an allegory about the world of fancy and the world of reality, and as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, with the idyllic world of magic and legend which Tennyson depicts being threatened by the arrival of new forces. Undoubtedly one of Tennyson’s greatest poetic achievements. (Read more.)

Hillary Clinton and Endless War

From Julian Assange:
Hillary didn't just vote for Iraq. She made her own Iraq. Libya is Hillary's Iraq and if she becomes president she will make more. I have had years of experience in dealing with Hillary Clinton and have read thousands of her cables. Hillary lacks judgment and will push the United States into endless, stupid wars which spread terrorism. Her personality combined with her poor policy decisions have directly contributed to the rise of ISIS.

Pentagon generals objected to destroying the Libyan state. They felt Hillary did not have a safe post-war plan. Hillary Clinton went over their heads. Libya has been destroyed. It became a haven for ISIS. The Libyan national armory was looted and hundreds of tons of weapons were transferred to jihadists in Syria. Hillary's war has increased terrorism, killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians and has set back women's rights in the Middle East by hundreds of years. Having learned nothing from the Libyan disaster Hillary then set about trying do the same in Syria. Hillary publicly took credit for the destruction of the Libyan state. On hearing that the country's president had been killed by her handiwork, she became wild-eyed and gloated "We came, we saw, he died!". In the momentary thrill of the kill, she had aped, of all people, Julius Ceaser. (Read more.)

America's Lost Boys

From First Things:
Young men, significantly more so than young women, are stuck in life. Research released in May from the Pew Center documented a historic demographic shift: American men aged 18-30 are now statistically more likely to be living with their parents than with a romantic partner. This trend is significant, for one simple reason: Twenty- and thirtysomething men who are living at home, working part-time or not at all, are unlikely to be preparing for marriage. Hurst’s research says that these men are single, unoccupied, and fine with that—because their happiness doesn’t depend on whether they are growing up and living life.

This prolonged delay of marriage and relational commitment often means a perpetual adolescence in other areas of life. Love and sex are arguably the best incentives for men to assert their adulthood. But in the comfort of their parents’ homes and their gaming systems, young men get to live out their fantasies without the frictions of reality.

What does that sound like? It sounds like pornography. Could it be that one reason that millions of young American men feel satisfied with their perpetual adolescence is that their sexual appetites are sated by a steady diet of internet porn? No woman they could meet at the coffee shop or on the church camping trip could possibly compete with these perfectly toned, perfectly undemanding models. The mild embarrassment a man might feel at looking real girls in the eye after days of masturbatory absorption in fantasy perfection is avoidable, if he simply doesn’t get out. (Read more.)

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Earth has Music for Those Who Listen

Ah Love! could you and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
  Would not we shatter it to bits–and then
Re-mold it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

~from “The Rubaiyat
(Image Source) Share

Trump and the GOP

If Trump loses I will not blame the Democrats. I will blame the Republicans who betrayed us. From PJB:
The Donald, his campaign, and party need to cease attacking one another to the elation of a hostile media, and redirect all their fire on the sole obstacle between them and a Republican sweep. Nor is it all that complex or difficult a task. For, as secretary of state, Clinton made a compelling case for her being ranked as about the worst in American history. She began her tenure by breaking State Department rules and setting up a private email server in her home. She compromised U.S. national security, setting off a criminal investigation that ended with the director of the FBI virtually accusing her of lying about everything she told the country about her misconduct.

As of mid-July, 56 percent of Americans thought the Democratic nominee should have been indicted. She is a compulsive fabricator, telling a harrowing story about running under sniper fire across the tarmac of some Balkan airfield, until TV footage showed her accepting a bouquet from a little girl. Her “reset” with Russia was brushed aside by Vladimir Putin. Spurned, she now compares him to Hitler. Is this the temperament America wants in the First Diplomat, in dealing with nuclear powers? She was a cheerleader for a war in Libya that left that nation a hellhole of terrorism, requiring another war to clean up.

“Benghazi” has today become a synonym both for the selfless heroism of American warriors, and for the squalid mendacity of politicians desperate to cover their fannies. Clinton is in there with the latter, accused of misleading families of the fallen about why their sons died. Twenty years ago, The New York Times’ William Safire called Clinton a “congenital liar.” Has her subsequent career disproven or validated that judgment? Trump, though, needs not only to make the case against her, but for himself, and for the ideas that vaulted him to victory in the primaries that brought out millions of new voters.
(Read more.)

Does French Culture Have a Future?

From First Things:
Imagine this scene: a mid-week mass, an almost empty church, two parishioners, three nuns, a very old priest with a mild, fine face who is immolated at the foot of the altar on which he has just celebrated the memorial of Christ’s sacrifice. This heart-wrenching scene sheds light on the state of Christianity in Europe. The Catholic Church lives from the faith and zeal of a few, old and young. It is the object of hatred with two faces: the cold and hissing hatred, the contempt of the class that speaks and writes; and the murderous hatred of Muslim fanatics. The French as a human whole do not know what to do with the Church, what to think or what to say of it. The President of the Republic rushed in to express his sympathy for “Catholics,” but then immediately changed the subject, since he didn’t know what to say about Catholics or the Catholic Church. Only the mayor of the little worker’s town, a communist, knew to speak of “our priest. (Read more.)

The Art of the Possible

From Seton Magazine:
Throughout the course of a lifetime a person makes many decisions, some in which the best choice is self-evident, others in which it is premature to decide because more information or more reflection is needed, and yet others in which the two options show no marked, vital difference—neither of them perfect or the best.

So often the choices are not the optimal ones and leave something to be desired. While everyone naturally seeks to make the best choice that achieves the goal or attains the ideal perfectly, often a person must accept the better of two alternatives and resign himself to “the art of the possible.” This decision does not mean that someone has settled for mediocrity or lowered standards to settle for the lowest common denominator. Rather it is the best decision a person can make in the actual circumstances that surround the situation based on the knowledge and wisdom available. (Read more.)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Friends of Marie-Antoinette, Part 3

A recent broadcast from Tea at Trianon Radio in which the death of Madame de Lamballe is discussed, as well as the identity of the mysterious Catherine Hyde. Share

The Exorcist

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty was first published in 1971, when I was nine years old. I remember my mother reading it and being shaken by the story which was said to be based upon an actual case of diabolic possession. Then the movie came out; I was not allowed to see it, of course, but I heard about it and was scared just by the idea of it. I finally saw the film when I was twenty and afterwards had to sleep with the lights on.

Decades went by; I finally picked up the book and read it. What a masterpiece! Not only is The Exorcist well-written but displays profound insights into the spiritual contest of good versus evil, as well as pondering the power and mystery of Christ in the ordained priesthood. While replete with the most horrific blasphemies from the depths of hell, the novel challenges the trite, self-satisfied, feel-good pseudo-Catholicism of the 1970's with the shocking notion that the devil is real.

The story of The Exorcist is well-known. A popular movie actress, Chris MacNeil, is filming a movie at Georgetown University and has rented an old Georgetown town house for herself, her twelve year old daughter Regan, and various members of her entourage. The seventies are in full swing. Chris' secretary practices transcendental meditation and meets her lover at a hotel every night. The elderly Swiss couple who act as housekeepers have a drug addicted daughter hidden away in a local slum. An atheist with a tendency to use God's name as a swear word, Chris is a woman of intelligence and ambition; she wants to direct as well as act, and has already sacrificed her marriage to her career goals. While focused on her work, she is only half conscious of some of the odd things going on in her household.  While Chris is a devoted mother, she dismisses Regan's obsession with a Ouija board, and the resultant strange behaviors, as being a product of the divorce. It is interesting that all hell breaks loose after Regan's father neglects to phone her on her birthday.

Regan's bizarre behaviors include the use of obscenities, urinating in public, violent attacks on friends and family, animal noises, and voices not her own, all the while accompanied by foul odors, levitation, moving furniture, and blasphemous writings in Latin. As the tormented child is passed from doctor to doctor, no medical explanation for her "illness" can be found. After a stay in a clinic, Regan returns home sicker than ever, as the horrific behaviors escalate. She is tied to her bed to keep her from injuring herself and others, and from chasing people around the house like a spider. Finally, Chris hears about exorcism, and goes in search of a Jesuit psychiatrist she has met in passing.

The Jesuit is Fr. Damian Karras, a brilliant psychiatrist from a destitute family. While the film has him about to leave the priesthood and the order, in the book he is going through a dark night of the soul brought on by burn-out and the death of his impoverished mother. Tormented by guilt that his mother lived and died in poverty because of his decision to join religious life, Fr. Damian finds himself a target of the evil entity that has taken over the MacNeil household. Moved by compassion for Regan, the priest rises above his own sufferings to save the little girl. Through the local bishop and his own superiors he is able to procure the help of Fr. Marrin, a learned, wise and holy Jesuit who has experience with exorcisms. Fr. Marrin arrives and insists that the casual Fr. Damian don traditional priestly attire while assisting  him perform the exorcism. It is then that the majesty of the sacred rites of the Church shine forth amid the most grotesque, satanic hatred which is literally spewed from the mouth of the possessed Regan. Few books portray the sacrificial nature of the Catholic priesthood in such a devastatingly accurate manner as does Blatty's novel. I found myself understanding on a deeper level the power of the priesthood and why it is always under attack. Perhaps the line that sums up the book is at the end when a Jesuit Fr. Dyer says to Chris: "But if all the evil in the world makes you think that there might be a devil, then how do you account for all the good in the world?" In the end, goodness prevails. The power of God prevails. Share