Sunday, April 30, 2017

La Marianne

From Tiny-Librarian:
The eldest surviving sister was Archduchess Maria Anna, or “La Marianne” as Empress Maria Theresa referred to her in her letters to Antoinette. Maria Anna had numerous physical handicaps, including a crooked back and weak lungs. It was early on decided that she was unmarriageable and so she was encouraged to become a nun. She eventually became the Abbess at Klagenfurt monastery in the Austrian Alps; it may be through her influence that Antoinette acquired some of her liturgical books, such as The Little Office of The Blessed Virgin Mary: According to the Usage of the Cistercian Order. The Abbess, who eschewed society as much as it eschewed her, was a patroness of the arts and sciences like her father the Emperor, and was perhaps one of the most intellectual of the sisters. She died at the age of 51. 

Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy- Elena Maria Vidal


The Handmaid's Hysteria

From The National Review:
In Atwood’s dystopian world, a sinister cabal of fundamentalist Christians (it’s always those dastardly Christians, it seems) seizes power, transforming what remains of the United States into the cruel Republic of Gilead. In this terrifying new world, certain fertile women — the “handmaids” in question — are forced into sex slavery, dissenters are sent off to clean up toxic waste, and a sly yet miserable cadre of privileged upper-class women manage to quietly enable the whole thing. 
According to a rash of earnest think pieces from dozens of news outlets, The Handmaid’s Tale is “timely” (the Washington Post), feels “chillingly real” (the San Francisco Chronicle), and has “an unexpected relevance in Trump’s America” (the New York Times). Atwood’s dystopia, writes Rebecca Nicholson in the Guardian, “has reignited the interest of readers, who have been drawing fresh parallels between Gilead and Trump’s America, and the novel topped the Amazon bestsellers list around the same time that signs at the global Women’s Marches asked to ‘Make Margaret Atwood fiction again.’” Never one to miss a good marketing opportunity, Atwood affirmed our apparent unfolding national horror show on April 19, speaking to the Los Angeles Times about the Hulu series: “The election happened, and the cast woke up in the morning and thought, we’re no longer making fiction — we’re making a documentary.” According to a recent article in The New Republic, lo, have mercy, for great woes have apparently befallen me, a wide-eyed, unsuspecting resident of the Lone Star State: “Texas is Gilead and Indiana is Gilead and now that Mike Pence is our vice president, the entire country will look more like Gilead, too.” (Read more.)

Stepping into Medieval London

From Tracey Warr:
‘The only plagues of London are the immoderate drinking of fools and the frequency of fires’ wrote William Fitz Stephen in his account of the city in the 12th century.

On a recent trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts I came across a little book called Norman London in a second-hand bookshop. The book contained Fitz Stephen’s account of London written sometime before 1183, together with an essay by Frank Stenton and map research on 12th century London by Marjorie B. Honeybourne. The book was a silvermine for my research as a historical novelist and it is ironic that I travelled to a second-hand bookshop in Massachusetts (the wonderful Raven Books) to find it. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Blue and White Rooms of the South

From Southern Lady:
From the kitchen to the family and dining rooms, the main living spaces blend not only because of the open layout, but also because of their unabashedly blue refrain. The hue was layered throughout with traditional ginghams, fun animal prints, classic china patterns, and contemporary motifs. Despite the eclectic variety, the tranquility of the blue-based palette brings a sense of comfort instead of clutter, rest rather than disorder. (Read more.)

The Forgotten Sins of Heresy and Schism

From ChurchPop:
“Heresy,” “apostasy,” “schism.” Do these words seem foreign to you? They may seem antiquated and medieval; like they represent something the Church used to be, but has long since abandoned. If that’s what you think, you may be surprised to learn that all three are officially recognized and defined in both the current Catechism and the Code of Canon Law. These things are still sins – and serious ones at that!

Here’s how the Church defines them:

Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith.

Apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith.

Schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him. (CIC 751; CCC 2089)

There are a few important things to note here.

First, these apply to people “after the reception of baptism.” So, e.g., someone who is not a baptized Christian cannot be a heretic by denying a truth of the Christian faith.

Second, notice that heresy requires “obstinate” denial or doubt of a truth of the faith. If a Christian denies a truth of the faith, e.g., out of ignorance, they are not guilty of heresy.

In such a case, the Church makes a distinction between what’s called material heresy and formal heresy. Material heresy is when a person denies a truth of the faith, though they may or may not be culpable. Formal heresy is when a person denies a truth of the faith and is culpable. For example, most Catholics, if you asked them enough theological questions, probably believe some material heresy (the Catholic faith is complicated!). They are probably not formal heretics, however, since their material heresy is probably simply due to ignorance. You can’t commit these sins on accident. (Read more.)

Freemasons in America

From First Things:
Freemasonry claims to have ancient foundations with occult knowledge and secret ceremonies of initiation, an example of ritual and popular religion, although many Masons have denied it is a religion, which Hackett defines as “shared ideologies and practices that help people become human in relation to transcendent realities.” “Freemasonry’s quest for primeval truth”—like primitivist Christian groups and Mormons—“joining together disparate political and religious leaders” contributed to the secularization of American society by staking out a “least common denominator” approach to religion—a via media between orthodox and evangelical Christianity on the one hand and pure rationalism on the other. Members were encouraged to keep “their particular [denominational] opinions to themselves,” embodying what the author dubs “polite Christianity” or what the 1723 Masonic constitution refers to as “that religion in which all men agree” (hence, the title of the book).

When Freemasonry refers to “rational” religion, this does not envision faith and reason as two wings of the human ascent to the truth, à la Pope John Paul II in Fides et Ratio; on the contrary, its religious equation is reason minus revelation or faith. As Thomas Paine argued, Masonry “is derived from some very ancient religion wholly independent of, and unconnected with that book [the Bible].” Another interesting historical tidbit informs us of the dependence of Mormonism on Freemasonry, especially in the development of its unique rituals. Likewise interesting is that eleven of Joseph Smith’s original twelve apostles were Masons.
Freemasonry caught on for a variety of reasons, not the least being its ability to forge deep relations independent of (or even in spite of) religious positions, redounding to the social, economic and political advantage of its members. It did not hurt that such prominent founders of the American republic as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and John Hancock were committed members of the Lodge. Interestingly, we learn that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Lodge members rarely attended church services (only 14 percent among San Franciscan Masons), giving credibility to the popular perception that Freemasonry was a religion unto itself. As part of its “inclusivity,” one lodge was comprised of Druids—whatever that might have meant. (Read more.)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Emily Post: Society, Scandal, and Etiquette

From Owlcation:
"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.

Those who assume that the first lady of etiquette was a proper person from a privileged background would be correct. Yet there was so much more to Emily Price Post, who was also an entrepreneur, a survivor of scandal, and in many ways a modernist who helped to democratize society. From the moment she released her first comprehensive book on etiquette in 1922, Emily Post became a household name for good manners, polite behavior, and of course, proper etiquette. Learn more about the background of Emily Post, the events that shaped her life, and the enduring legacy of the Emily Post Institute. (Read more.)

Your Smartphone Is Bilbo's Ring

From On This Rock:
1) You randomly worry that you don't have it, check your pocket, your heart rate quickens, you check your other pocket, find it, and then slowly calm back down again

2) Your phone is powerful and magical.  10 years ago, if you told someone all the things your phone would do, they would have thought of it as magic.  Your phone also gives you the power to do everything you would need to do to run a Fortune 500 company for weeks from thousands of miles away.

3) You think sometimes of getting rid of your phone, but every time you get ready to throw it away, you step back from the edge and change your mind. (Read more.)

Cézanne et Moi

From The New York Times:
The film, an intimate, searching portrait of the turbulent friendship between the two geniuses directed by Danièle Thompson (“Avenue Montaigne”), completely avoids the tone of pious reverence typically adopted in stories about famous artists and writers. Instead it focuses on the insecurity, competitiveness and complicated love lives of these two ambitious men of opposite temperament. Anyone who has spent much time in artistic and literary circles will recognize that this is how it is even today.

“Cézanne et Moi” begins in 1888 in Médan, northwest of Paris, when Zola, then in his late 30s, was a world-famous author and the reputation of the late-blooming Cézanne was gathering steam. It then immediately flashes back to 1852, when they were rambunctious schoolboys, with Cézanne the daredevil who took Zola the follower under his wing. The movie restlessly jumps around in time, cramming almost more information than you can take in. And it is so eager not to come off as a lecture in art history the film presumes a high level of knowledge of French culture and history — more than most American viewers might possess.

Mr. Gallienne, who dominates the film, gives an electrifying portrait of Cézanne as a scruffy, driven wild man who even as his career seems stalled, declares, “I’ll never stop painting; I’ll die painting.” Charismatic but scary, flashing a furious, wide-eyed glare that could turn people to stone, Cézanne is a foul-mouthed misogynistic boor and selfish voluptuary who shocked polite society with his profanity and who in his later years was obsessed with his declining virility. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Real White Princess

From Town and Country:
Everyone agrees: Elizabeth was ravishing. Which is not surprising, considering her gene pool. The Plantagenet princess was the oldest child of King Edward IV (the head of the House of York) and Elizabeth Woodville, both of them famed for their good looks and sexual charisma. Her parents’ marriage was actually the scandal of its time. Edward was under pressure to marry a fellow royal, but at age 22 he fell passionately in love with Elizabeth Woodville, an impoverished young widow, and tried to seduce her. The Widow Woodville refused to become his mistress, drawing a knife and threatening to kill herself if he raped her. This led to the king’s proposal of marriage. (Bear in mind, this was the 15th century.) (Read more.)

Nazi Super Babies

From Messy Nessy Chic:
Lebensborn, meaning “fount of life” was an SS-initiated program that encouraged anonymous births by unmarried “racially pure” women who were selected to breed with Nazi officers and secure the future of a “super race” for the German Reich. The program expanded into several Nazi occupied countries including Norway, France and Belgium, resulting in a shameful post-war ostracism of surviving Lebensborn mothers and the mistreatment of their displaced children across Europe after Germany lost the war.

An estimated 8,000 children were born in Lebensborn institutions in Germany, up to 12,000 children in Norway and countless others across occupied countries where “super babies” had been selected become part of the German master race. The most famous of the surviving Lebensborn children is Frida Lyngstad of the iconic Swedish pop band, ABBA....(Read more.)

The Audiobook Boom

From Digital Book World:
The digital audiobook industry is trending up. The recent launch of RBmedia, a digital audio company that brings together the management of several technologies that specialize in spoken-word audio, casts a spotlight on this growth. In recent years, spoken-word media has increased in both sales and the number of titles being published. The latest statistics from the Audio Publishing Association show that audiobook sales totaled more than $1.77 billion in 2015, up 20.7 percent over the previous year. During that time, unit sales grew 24.1 percent. In July 2016, The Wall Street Journal called audiobooks the “fastest growing format in publishing.” New digital technologies have led to the rapid growth in listening to books. The ubiquity of mobile smartphones and new in-home infotainment technologies are two leading factors. As the demand for audiobook content rises, publishers have begun to make audiobook production more accessible to indie authors. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Marie-Antoinette Leaves Home

Another quote from my book:
On April 21, 1770, the youngest Archduchess left her family home forever. The moment came when she was to bid farewell to her mother. They had become particularly close in the last few months because the Empress had decided to keep Antoine constantly at her side, day and night, in order not to lose the opportunity to instruct the little bride in her duties of her new state in life. There was profuse weeping, not only on the part of the mother and her child, but the members of the imperial household, both servants and courtiers mourned the loss of their Archduchess, as did the citizens of Vienna. She knelt for her mother’s blessing. In the future she would see her sister Mimi and her brothers Joseph and Max; she would never see her mother or her other siblings again.

Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy - Elena Maria Vidal (Read more.)

The Cross That ISIS Could Not Crush

From FaithZette:
The monastery of St. Barbara, formerly a place of pilgrimage for many Iraqi Christians, is at the entrance to the town. We were accompanied by Fr. Thabet, the parish priest. He showed us the ruined home of his parents and grandparents, bombed by coalition forces because it was used as an ISIS outpost. Sitting in what had been the family garden was a large bomb. The rectory, like many of the empty houses, had ISIS graffiti sprayed on the outside wall — for the priest’s house it said, “The Cross will be broken.” Luckily for Fr. Thabet, his house was still standing and, unlike many of the houses, had not been burned out. ISIS fighters had left him a little gift on their departure: a booby trap by his office door. Many of the houses in the town are booby-trapped, burned out, or destroyed, and there is no water or electricity. As we walked around the empty streets some birds were singing, but the only other sound was the distant thump of bombing in Mosul, nine miles away. (Read more.)

The Great Retail Meltdown of 2017

From The Atlantic:
The simplest explanation for the demise of brick-and-mortar shops is that Amazon is eating retail. Between 2010 and last year, Amazon’s sales in North America quintupled from $16 billion to $80 billion. Sears’ revenue last year was about $22 billion, so you could say Amazon has grown by three Sears in six years. Even more remarkable, according to several reports, half of all U.S. households are now Amazon Prime subscribers.

But the full story is bigger than Amazon. Online shopping has done well for a long time in media and entertainment categories, like books and music. But easy return policies have made online shopping cheap, easy, and risk-free for consumers in apparel, which is now the largest e-commerce category. The success of start-ups like Casper, Bonobos, and Warby Parker (in beds, clothes, and glasses, respectively) has forced physical-store retailers to offer similar deals and convenience online. What’s more, mobile shopping, once an agonizing experience of typing private credit-card digits in between pop-up ads, is getting easier thanks to apps and mobile wallets. Since 2010, mobile commerce has grown from 2 percent of digital spending to 20 percent. (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Johanna and Josepha

Archduchess Johanna

Archduchess Josepha
A quote about two of Marie-Antoinette's sisters who died of smallpox:
There was no trouble, however, with Archduchess Maria Johanna and Archduchess Maria Josepha, sweet and docile girls who were being brought up together. Then Johanna contracted a virulent case of smallpox after receiving an inoculation, which was known to occur. She died at age twelve, much to her family’s horror, especially Josepha’s. But soon Josepha was being groomed to marry Ferdinand of Naples and being painted in honour of the occasion, for she would become a queen. There is at least one portrait of Josepha in blue which is often mistaken for Antoinette; they both possessed the same delicate winsomeness so it is an easy mistake to make.
Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy - Elena Maria Vidal

Sense and the City

Life in 18th century cities. From City Lab:
People in the 18th century, like today, tended to pay attention to their sensations only when those sensations were particularly good or particularly bad. That means that in order to access the routine, normal, and accepted sensory worlds of the past, one really has to read between the lines. With that in mind, the most common sensory observations that I encountered fell into two main categories: complaints about urban noise, and rapturous descriptions of new foods and beverages. Cities were growing by leaps and bounds in the 18th century, and the architecture and layout of Paris had developed haphazardly in response to these quickly changing demographics. Acoustics were not a central planning concern. Buildings were tall and streets were narrow, trapping ambient noise. Artisans clustered together, making the heavy ringing of hammers, calls of vendors, and noises of animals thick and concentrated. Cobblestones were uneven, meaning that wheels and hooves made a clatter, and walls were not built to keep out neighbors’ din. (Read more.)

Two Thieves and a Funeral

From Brandon Hawk:
Recently, I’ve been reading Mary Dzon’s new book, The Quest for the Christ Child in the Later Middle Ages (Philadelphia, PA: U of Pennsylvania P, 2017), and it’s turned out to be quite appropriate for the season of Lent leading up to Easter. This might seem somewhat odd, given the focus on Jesus’ childhood rather than his later life and death. But Dzon demonstrates that many medieval representations of Jesus as child also evoke strong links with his Crucifixion. This is especially true in later medieval devotional writings, but it may also be found in many other texts.

Some of the conceptual links between Jesus’ childhood and death come from earlier apocryphal narratives that influenced medieval people. While most apocryphal infancy gospels have little in them directly regarding Jesus’ death or afterward–which is expected, considering that they focus on his childhood–there is one fascinating instance in an apocryphal gospel that I’ve recently been reading: the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour. In this apocryphon, an explicit connection between Jesus’ childhood and death is found during the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, when Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are stopped by two robbers. (Read more.)

Monday, April 24, 2017


Two of Marie-Antoinette's sisters became nuns. To quote from my recent book:
Archduchess Maria Elisabeth, called “Liesl,” was lovely but like Mimi also had a sharp tongue. She was supposed to have gone to France to marry Louis XV but was prevented not only by Louis’ mistress Madame du Barry but by an attack of smallpox, which disfigured her. This was tragic on more than one level. How helpful it would have been for Antoine to have an older sister at Versailles who was already Queen of France! Instead, Antoine had to face the French court practically alone and without her family. Meanwhile, Liesl became fat and crabby; Joseph eventually expelled her from the Imperial court, as he did all his sisters. She went to live with La Marianne and discovered a religious vocation, becoming an Abbess. 

Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy- Elena Maria Vidal(Read more.)


What the Dying See

From What's Up, Doc?:
According to David Kessler, author and expert on death and dying, the following things often happen when a person is about to die.
  • The dying are often visited by their dead mothers.
  • Their hands often reach up toward a force that can’t be seen. (My mom did this)
  • Family members and friends of the dying can’t see their visions or participate in conversations.
  • Visions often occur hours to weeks before they die.
While there is no “proof” that their visions and communication with deceased family members or friends are real, some death and dying experts are adamant they should be taken seriously. “People think it’s just confusion or the drugs,” explains Maggie Callanan. As a hospice nurse for more than 27 years, she has helped more than 2,000 dying men and women in their last days. “But frankly, the confusion is ours. The patient knows what is going on.”

Dr. Martha Twaddle, chief medical officer of the Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter, explains further: “You can write it off and say it’s a hallucination, they’re not getting enough oxygen in their brain, but no, it doesn’t apply to many people in these situations. I have to believe they are transitioning; they are in a phase we don’t understand physically or metaphysically. And it is profoundly reassuring to see it happen.” (Read more.)

Virtue and Visions

From The Catholic Herald:
As the prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes from 1998 to 2008, Cardinal Saraiva Martins oversaw the process that led to the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto by St John Paul II in 2000. Cardinal Saraiva Martins told CNS that the process leading up to the beatification was stalled for decades and wasn’t easy because of a general assumption that children “do not have the capacity to practice Christian virtue in a heroic way.” The church’s declaration of heroic sanctity, he added, “is fundamental for beatification.”

While he knew the children’s devotion to the Eucharist and to Our Lady of Fatima were well-known, the cardinal said one specific event during the apparitions left him “convinced” of their holiness.
At the time of the apparitions, the Portuguese government was strongly anti-Catholic. Artur Santos, mayor of the town where Fatima was located and president of the Masonic lodge of nearby Leiria, sent law enforcement officials to block the entry to the site of the apparitions. He also kidnapped the three children to force them to deny Mary was appearing at Fatima after news of the apparitions spread, the cardinal said.

Santos separated Jacinta and Francisco from Lucia, telling the two children that their cousin was boiled in hot oil and that they would share the same fate if they didn’t say they didn’t see Our Lady and that “it was all a fantasy,” Cardinal Saraiva Martins said.

“What was the response of those two children? ‘You can do what you want but we cannot tell a lie. We have seen her (Our Lady),'” the cardinal said.

“I asked myself, ‘How many adults would have done the same?'” the cardinal said. “Maybe 90 per cent of adults would probably say, ‘Yes, of course, it was a lie, it was all a fairy tale.'”
While the fact that the apparitions of Mary contributed to their sanctity “is evident and obvious,” Cardinal Saraiva Martins said, it was Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta’s “personal holiness that counts.” (Read more.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ

From Peter Kreeft:
Blaise Pascal gives a simple, psychologically sound proof for why this is unthinkable:
The apostles were either deceived or deceivers. Either supposition is difficult, for it is not possible to imagine that a man has risen from the dead. While Jesus was with them, he could sustain them; but afterwards, if he did not appear to them, who did make them act? The hypothesis that the Apostles were knaves is quite absurd. Follow it out to the end, and imagine these twelve men meeting after Jesus' death and conspiring to say that he has risen from the dead. This means attacking all the powers that be. The human heart is singularly susceptible to fickleness, to change, to promises, to bribery. One of them had only to deny his story under these inducements, or still more because of possible imprisonment, tortures and death, and they would all have been lost. Follow that out.   (Pascal, Pensees 322, 310)
The "cruncher" in this argument is the historical fact that no one, weak or strong, saint or sinner, Christian or heretic, ever confessed, freely or under pressure, bribe or even torture, that the whole story of the resurrection was a fake a lie, a deliberate deception. Even when people broke under torture, denied Christ and worshiped Caesar, they never let that cat out of the bag, never revealed that the resurrection was their conspiracy. For that cat was never in that bag. No Christians believed the resurrection was a conspiracy; if they had, they wouldn't have become Christians.

(2) If they made up the story, they were the most creative, clever, intelligent fantasists in history, far surpassing Shakespeare, or Dante or Tolkien. Fisherman's "fish stories" are never that elaborate, that convincing, that life-changing, and that enduring.

(3) The disciples' character argues strongly against such a conspiracy on the part of all of them, with no dissenters. They were simple, honest, common peasants, not cunning, conniving liars. They weren't even lawyers! Their sincerity is proved by their words and deeds. They preached a resurrected Christ and they lived a resurrected Christ. They willingly died for their "conspiracy." Nothing proves sincerity like martyrdom. The change in their lives from fear to faith, despair to confidence, confusion to certitude, runaway cowardice to steadfast boldness under threat and persecution, not only proves their sincerity but testifies to some powerful cause of it. Can a lie cause such a transformation? Are truth and goodness such enemies that the greatest good in history—sanctity—has come from the greatest lie?

Use your imagination and sense of perspective here. Imagine twelve poor, fearful, stupid (read the Gospels!) peasants changing the hard-nosed Roman world with a lie. And not an easily digested, attractive lie either. St. Thomas Aquinas says:
In the midst of the tyranny of the persecutors, an innumerable throng of people, both simple and learned, flocked to the Christian faith. In this faith there are truths proclaimed that surpass every human intellect; the pleasures of the flesh are curbed; it is taught that the things of the world should be spurned. Now, for the minds of mortal men to assent to these things is the greatest of miracles....This wonderful conversion of the world to the Christian faith is the clearest witness....For it would be truly more wonderful than all signs if the world had been led by simple and humble men to believe such lofty truths, to accomplish such difficult actions, and to have such high hopes. (Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 6)
(Read more.)


From Peter McCandless:
During the 18th century, Bedlam became a popular attraction. People could visit on certain days, to see the "lunatics." Some histories claim that the public came to stare at and cruelly taunt the patients. Others argue that the public openness brought in money and helped prevent mistreatment. 

In the 1730's, William Hogarth famously depicted a scene in Bedlam in his didactic series, "The Rake's Progress." The rake, who has gone mad as a result of debauchery and debt, is shown at the center, naked, raving, with his head shaved. He is surrounded by stock caricatures of lunatics, including religious maniacs, megalomaniacs, melancholics, and would be popes and kings. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Research Notes on the History of the Philippines

From Edwardian Promenade:
Today, I (virtually) paged through an original 1900 copy of Harper’s History of the War in the Philippines to bring you some of the original images that you cannot find anywhere else. For example, you may know that almost every village in the Philippines—no matter how remote or small—had a band of some sort, whether woodwind, brass, or bamboo. In fact, these musicians learned American ragtime songs so quickly and so enthusiastically that many Filipinos thought “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” was the American national anthem. (Read more.)

Chesterton and Attacks on the Family

From Life Site:
Chesterton was so consistently right in his pronouncements and prophecies because he understood that anything that attacked the family was bad for society. That is why he spoke out against eugenics and contraception, against divorce and “free love” (another term he disliked because of its dishonesty), but also against wage slavery and compulsory state-sponsored education and mothers hiring other people to do what mothers were designed to do themselves. It is safe to say that Chesterton stood up against every trend and fad that plagues us today because every one of those trends and fads undermines the family. Big Government tries to replace the family’s authority, and Big Business tries to replace the family’s autonomy. There is a constant commercial and cultural pressure on father, mother, and child. They are minimized and marginalized and, yes, mocked. But as Chesterton says, “This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it." (Read more.

Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick

From Samantha Wilcoxson:
Edward is often referred to as the son of George of Clarence, but let us not forget that his maternal ancestry is no less impressive. Isabel Neville was the daughter of the infamous Kingmaker, and the house of Neville had been powerful enough to sway the Wars of the Roses in whichever direction they chose to place themselves upon. Should Edward have determined to make a claim for himself, he had deep roots of family ties to call upon that Tudor would have been challenged to compete with. It is for this reason that Edward was initially imprisoned, despite the fact that he was a child. Henry understood that if he allowed this young man to grow and thrive, making the most of these family connections, he would almost certainly become a threat. Henry had learned many lessons from watching the houses of Lancaster and York decimate each other. One of those lessons was to not allow a seemingly innocent threat to become stronger.

York had held Henry VI of Lancaster prisoner for years before they finally put him to death and spread the story that he had died of melancholy. Richard Neville of Warwick, Edward’s grandfather, had not been able to take that step with Edward of York, and the deposed king returned from exile to have his vengeance. Henry Tudor was not going to leave room for the possibility that Edward of Warwick would become one of these stories.

Others saw a child imprisoned in the Tower, but Henry saw the last hope of York neutralized. When rumors had spread in October 1485 that Henry had been a victim of the plague, men began to proclaim Edward king. During uprisings in the spring of 1486, men were heard calling out, ‘A Warwick, A Warwick!’ Tudor had not become king when so many other men had died by ignoring clues such as these. Few would hesitate to make Edward king if Henry died early in his reign without an heir. (Read more.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

French Cottages

From Victoria:
Self-proclaimed ambassadors to a centuries-old medieval estate, Matthew and Jitske Poventud have created a charmed life for themselves, their family, and a constant flow of houseguests. “We want our guests to experience life on this estate, the nature, the tranquility,” says Jitske. “Many people tell us coming here feels like coming home—and that’s a wonderful compliment.” (Read more.)

The Calvinist Roots of the American Social Order

From The Public Discourse:
Witherspoon was a Founding Father: a delegate from New Jersey to the Second Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a delegate to the New Jersey state convention that voted unanimously in 1787 to ratify the national Constitution. A Scottish transplant to the new nation, Witherspoon became one of its most ardent defenders.

“He is as high a Son of Liberty, as any man in America,” John Adams proclaimed him. As a later historian noted, “no American born and bred could have had greater faith than he in the future of the country.”

Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister and the sixth president of the College of New Jersey (known today as Princeton University), a position he assumed in 1768. These quieter roles were his more influential ones. Witherspoon was the first college head in America to lecture systematically on ethics, and his Lectures on Moral Philosophy remain an intellectual staple of America’s most formative period. Scores of Princeton graduates, inspired by Witherspoon’s ideas, went on to distinguished public service in the fledgling nation as state governors, congressmen, cabinet officials, and Supreme Court justices. Many of these names are probably unknown to readers today: William Bradford, Morgan Lewis, Henry Lee, and Henry Brockholst Livingston, to name a few.

One name, however, certainly is not: James Madison, perhaps Witherspoon’s most famous pupil. In 1769, at the age of eighteen, Madison left his home in Virginia’s Tidewater region and made the ten-day journey to Princeton. It was an unusual decision at the time: most young men in Virginia (Thomas Jefferson among them) attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. It was also a decision that would change the nation’s fate. After the young Madison completed his undergraduate studies at Princeton, he remained an additional six months to study Hebrew and political philosophy with Witherspoon. It was there, under the careful tutelage of “the old Doctor,” that Madison acquired his basic political and philosophical instincts. These presuppositions about the nature of man, virtue, self-interest, and power would profoundly shape his later work as chief architect and defender of the national Constitution. Indeed, if Madison is the “Father of the Constitution,” then Witherspoon might well be its grandfather. (Read more.)

Where Marie-Antoinette was Born

From Royal Central:
The Archduchess Maria Antonia – Maria being an established Habsburg prefix given to all the daughters of Empress Maria Theresia, to mark the dynasty’s special allegiance to and veneration for, The Virgin Mary – was born as the 15th child of Maria Theresia on 2 November 1755 at around 8.30 in the evening. She was one of 11 daughters to the imperial couple. She celebrated her name day – a day with probably even greater personal importance to her than her actual birthday – on the Feast Day of St Antony on 13 June. She was christened the day after her birth promptly, being baptised under the names Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna. Maria Theresia had abolished the practice of a public delivery, which was something however – as Marie Antoinette’s biographer Antonia Fraser has correctly pointed out – that the future Queen of France would encounter in her time, as being very much still de rigeur at Versailles.

Maria Theresia’s rooms at the Hofburg Palace were located in the so-called Leopoldnischer Trakt (Leopoldine Wing) which was built in the 1660s during the reign of Emperor Leopold I, after whom the wing takes its name. Today, these are part of the Austrian Chancellery of the Federal President and are therefore not open to the public. The Leopoldine Wing connects the much older Swiss Wing – with its famous Swiss Gate – to the Amalienburg and directly faces the Imperial Chancellery. Originally constructed under the Swiss-Italian architect Filberto Lucchese, it was later enlarged by Giovanni Pietro Tencala. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Beauty of Fans

From Regency Explorer:
I am very intrigued by this fan, called “New Opera Fan”. The leaf shows the seating plan of the London Opera House in 1808. The famous dandy Beau Brummell is in box 25.
Plot bunny: The New Opera Fan is a useful tool for a social climber trying to find her way in polite society. But she mixes up the boxes and instead of getting in contact with a viscount (as planned), she meets a handsome, young  scientist who could not care less for balls and glittering event. Nevertheless, she can’t help but fall in love…(Read more.)

Family Dinners

From The Art of Manliness:
Strive for consistency. Try to make family dinner a sacrosanct ritual. Whenever you can, schedule your work and activities around this immovable block. Sometimes very busy high-powered executives will come home from work, eat dinner with the fam, and then go back to work later. They do what they can not to miss it.

What’s great about prioritizing family dinners is that it gives you a goal to shoot for. If you know the wife and kids won’t be sitting down together and will just be fending for themselves, it’s tempting to rationalize continuing to plow through your work. But if you’re expected to be at the table, it’s easier to break away from what you’re doing and get home. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to forgo your family dinner sometimes. Research indicates that children who have dinner with their family at least three times a week enjoy the benefits of family dinners. So just try to be as consistent with it as you can.

It doesn’t actually have to be dinner. Many families today have schedules that make it hard to get everyone home for dinnertime. Dad or Mom works late, and one kid has soccer practice at 6PM while the other kid has a piano recital on the other side of town at 7. It only gets worse as the kids get older. I remember when I got into high school, I was barely ever home for family dinner due to football, work, or student council. Sometimes the solution is a much-needed simplification of our schedules, but it’s just not always possible to get everyone to the table at 6:00. Because of this, many families simply give up altogether on the idea of regularly sharing a meal. (Read more.)

The Power of Touch

From Verso:
The Virginia jurists were chosen by United States Circuit Court judge John C. Underwood, a Radical Reconstruction firebrand whose speeches about the “moral monsters” of racism put him at odds with moderates on both sides of the political divide.

All this research raised more questions than answers. How did Judge Underwood choose these men? And who were they? A few identities came into focus. Lewis Lindsay (seated and holding a scroll in the image above) was a fearless advocate for the confiscation of Confederate lands. Born enslaved in Virginia, Lindsay worked at a Richmond iron works after the war. Albert Royal Brooks (seated second from left in the image above) purchased his and his family’s freedom between 1861 and 1865, and became a respected Richmond businessman and community leader. Joseph Cox (standing far left in the image below) was a free Black man employed as a factory worker, blacksmith, bartender, and storeowner during his lifetime. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mary Lincoln and Marie-Antoinette

Two tragic ladies. To quote:
Lincoln signs her copy of theLife of Marie Antoinette, a marvelous association piece Her signature, "Mary Lincoln," accomplished on the half-title page of Charles Duke Younge, The Life of Marie Antoinette Queen of France (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1877) xvi, 432 pages, 8vo., bound in tooled purple cloth boards with titled spine....Although Mary Lincoln did not meet the same fate as Marie Antoinette, she likely identified with the French queen's plight. Like the guillotined French monarch, her words (whether true or not) and intentions were frequent targets of abuse in the press. Both were viewed as spendthrifts, and while Marie Antoinette's commitment to the welfare of the French people was questioned in her own time ("let them eat cake"), Mary Lincoln's loyalty to the Union (in light of her southern familial ties) was frequently cast into doubt by a hostile press.(Read more.)

Is Academia Our Enemy?

From Town Hall:
The purpose of universities long ago stopped being education, yet Big Edu and its liberal supporters keep pushing the lie that the only way to prepare young Americans for the future is to tie an anchor around their necks. America’s student loan debt now totals a staggering $1.4 trillion carried by 44 million Americans, and 2016 grads are weighed down with an average $37,712 each. And what do they get for it? Nothing but four years older and considerably dumber. Record numbers are using their degrees in Papuan Feminist Literature and Genderfluid Break Dance Therapy as gateway credentials into the exciting field of brewing caffeinated beverages for grown-ups who didn’t still live on the futon in their mom’s spare bedroom at age 33. (Read more.)

Obedience and Love

From Seton Magazine:
If we look into Sacred Scripture, our Lord’s teaching ministry lasted for three years and culminated in His passion, death and resurrection. Two thousand years later, His teachings still continue to attract countless disciples from far and wide. The word disciple comes from the Latin word discipulus meaning “a learner”. In living out our vocation, we have to remember that if our children are learners, then our calling as parents is to teach. And who best to look up to but our Master Teacher, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself. Our Lord’s relationship with his disciples was based on love and respect. His disciples, in turn, obeyed Jesus not out of fear but out of a deep desire to love Him back. One of the main goals of behavior modification science is the successful eradication of specific unfavorable behaviors. While this is a just and noble cause, we, as Catholics, believe that we are more than just beings defined by our behaviors. We are human beings made in the image and likeness of our Heavenly Father. (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How to Garden Like a Medieval Monk

From English Heritage:
The garden of the Mount Grace Priory cell is English Heritage’s best preserved example of monastic horticulture. It was replanted for the first time in 1994, following archaeological excavation of the cells. The excavations showed that the lay-out and use of each garden varied according to the inclination and interest of the individual monk.

The pattern of paths and beds in the garden was based on archaeological evidence, but it was uncertain which plants were used or how they may have been arranged in the beds. None of the recent planting was intended to be a restoration or reconstruction of the original garden. It instead was a demonstration of the kinds of plants that were grown in gardens at the time the monastery flourished.

Equipment, too, has changed how we tend to our gardens today. Monk’s tools would have been simple wooden and metal ards (like a small hand pulled plough) or mattocks rather than the mechanised marvels of today’s horticulture. Rather than a tractor, power for larger plots would have been provided by oxen.

Cell gardens as at Mount Grace Priory provided monks with the opportunity for manual labour within the confines of their own cell, which was a key part of the Carthusian ideal. As a hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) they also had biblical associations including the garden of the ‘Song of Solomon’, and alluded to the ‘original’ Garden of Eden, or to ‘Paradise’ itself. These spaces were not primarily for food production but had multiple functions of spirituality, health and utility. The mass of food for the monks came from much larger kitchen gardens, plots and farms elsewhere.

These cell gardens were strongly geometric in form, often compartmentalised (defining spaces for medicinal or poisonous species) and in the 15th century started to become decorative. This included a mix of medicinal and aromatic herbs, and flowering plants to lift the mind and spirit and to aid contemplation. (Read more.)

Secret Abortions

From Live Action News:
Brenda Pratt-Shaffer spent three days working at a late-term abortion facility before she became so troubled by what she saw that she quit. She recently wrote a book about her experiences called What the Nurse Saw: Eyewitness to Abortion. On Pratt–Shaffer’s first day in the abortion facility, she cared for a teenage girl who was there having an abortion without her parents’ knowledge. Pratt–Shafer wrote:
One of the things that really bothered me that day was a fifteen-year-old girl having her third abortion. Her parents did not even know that she was there. She was laughing the whole time she was in the clinic. I wondered if this was a nervous laugh or if she truly just did not care….I just kept thinking about my fifteen-year-old daughter that I had to sign for to have her ears pierced. But here was a fifteen-year-old having such a horrific procedure for the third time that her parents didn’t even know about.(1)
This young woman was in a self-destructive spiral. As a teenager having an abortion, she was already at higher risk of suicide than an adult having an abortion. One study found that a post–abortive teenager is 10 times more likely to commit suicide than a teenager who has never had an abortion. (Read more.)

Is Traditional Publishing Still Worth It?

From Writers for Hire:
“Writing a novel is like driving at night in the fog,” E.L. Doctorow once said. “You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” But when you finish a book, those headlights may fade out. You face a question the muse can’t answer: Should I seek a traditional publisher or independently publish this myself? It’s a complex issue, full of facets and trade-offs. The choice depends on who you are, what you’ve written, and what you want your book to achieve. No answer is right for every author or even for every book from the same author. So which way do you go? Part I of this blog examines the considerations before publication. Part II (to come) deals with post-publication matters like marketing and total payment. (Read more.)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring Place Settings

From Southern Lady Magazine: "Press or steam a square napkin of your choice. We recommend a 20″ x 20″ napkin that has a bit of weight to it. With the right side down on a flat surface, fold the napkin in half vertically." (Read more.) Share

The Virtue of Industry

From Seton Magazine:
The wonderful Fr. Lasance once wrote to Catholic ladies:
“Do not take alarm at the mention of work; the word may have a harsh sound, but the thing itself is not so harsh and bitter as it may appear at first sight. You must not, as is too often the case, immediately connect with it the idea of toil, fatigue, and degradation which pertains to a slavish occupation. For everything must, in fact, be won by work, everything which does not grow of itself, like fruit on a tree.”
He says: “Christianity teaches us to regard work as something sacred, honorable, and exalted. Work is your duty . . . You must not only value work very highly, you must also love it. We are taught by daily experience that industrious, active girls who are fond of work are almost without exception virtuous and pure.”

What challenging statements these are! Not only should we regard the opportunities we have every day to work in our home, cooking and tidying and wiping and straightening, with appreciation—we should love to do this work? Well . . . to be blunt, “loving work” seems possible only with gritted teeth some days, yet the virtue of industry, if we pray for it, can help us to see the proper value of our work.

Industry keeps us at work for the right reasons. Our daily work in the home, if done with as generous and humble an attitude as we can muster, is sanctifying work and pleasing to God. Simple daily work mortifies our flesh and prevents us from being idle (and idleness, as our mothers have always told us, is the devil’s playground!); it keeps our bodies healthy and our minds refreshed. It keeps us content with simple things, because after a good hour’s work, a glass of water and a book is more than enough to fill us with gratitude! Work makes us good stewards of the material possessions God has given us and prevents us from discontentedly looking outward to greener pastures . . . instead, work keeps us plowing and fertilizing our own fields! Most of all, holy work in the home directly cares for our family: the people God has ordained for us to serve first and last every day. (Read more.)

History of English

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
In the 1230s, Henry III had become the first king of England since 1066 to give distinctively English names to his sons – Edward and Edmund. The eldest son, Edward I, was very conscious of his Englishness, and French gradually became an acquired language. Documents began to be written in English again and during the 100 Years War there was a massive impetus to speak English. Church sermons, prayers and carols were all expressed in English. During the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381, Richard II spoke to the peasants in English.

But English was now what we term Middle English (ME) – a written record of what had been happening for a while in spoken English. An example of how the language was changing is the case of the letter y. In OE (Old English) it represented a short vowel, written by French scribes as u. The OE word mycel became ME muchel, which becomes modern much. When y stood for a long vowel it was written by the French scribes as ui. So the OE fyr becomes the ME fuir and the modern fire. This sound, though, was pronounced differently in different parts of the country, sometimes representing the i in kin, elsewhere (Kent and parts of East Anglia) it was more like the e in merry. In the west it was the oo in mood, but spelt with a u. So the OE for kin, cyn, could be kyn, ken, or kun. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Eighth Day

Let, then, the week with its Sabbath pass by; what we Christians want is the eighth day, the day that is beyond the measure of time, the day of eternity, the day whose light is not intermittent or partial, but endless and unlimited. Thus speak the holy Fathers, when explaining the substitution of the Sunday for the Saturday. It was, indeed, right that man should keep, as the day of his weekly and spiritual repose, that on which the Creator of the visible world had taken his divine rest; but it was a commemoration of the material creation only. The Eternal Word comes down in the world that he has created; he comes with the rays of his divinity clouded beneath the humble veil of our flesh; he comes to fullfil the figures of the first Covenant. Before abrogating the Sabbath, he would observe it as he did every tittle of the Law; he would spend it as the day of rest, after the work of his Passion, in the silence of the sepulchre: but, early on the eighth day, he rises to life, and the life is one of glory.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Memories of Ella

Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna, wife of Sergei Alexandrovich. To quote:
I have an unforgettable vision of the sister of the Tsarina, wife of the Grand Duke Sergius: Elizaveta Feodorovna, nee Princess Elisabeth of Hessen-Darmstadt. It was at the christening of the heir to the throne, at which I was present.  After standing continuously for some time in the church I began to feel rather faint, as I always did, and one of my dear uncles took me into another part of the building, where I could sit down and recover a little. As we were going back to the chapel the Grand Duchess came towards us, in Russian dress with magnificent emerald ornaments. In that dress,  and in the setting which surrounded her, at that moment she seemed, in the radiance of her beauty, like some ikon, some old Byzantine saint which had come to life! How often I have seen this picture in my mind’s eye, how vividly it came back to me when I head the news of her martyr’s death in the shaft of the mine at [Alapayevsk].  

Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia, Memoirs

Friday, April 14, 2017

"We Have No King but Caesar"

From These Stone Walls:
Getting to the story beneath the one on the surface is important to understand something as profound as the events of the Passion of the Christ. You may remember from my post, “De Profundis,” that Jesus said something perplexing when he learned of the illness of Lazarus:
“This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” (John 11:4)
The irony of this is clearer when you see that it was the raising of Lazarus that condemned Jesus to death. The High Priests were deeply offended, and the insult was an irony of Biblical proportions (no pun intended). Immediately following upon the raising of Lazarus, “the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council” (the Sanhedrin). They were in a panic over the signs performed by Jesus. “If he goes on like this,” they complained, “the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place (the Jerusalem Temple) and our nation” (John 11 47-48).

The two major religious schools of thought in Judaism in the time of Jesus were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Both arose in Judaism in the Second Century B.C. and faded from history in the First Century A.D. At the time of Jesus, there were about 6,000 Pharisees. The name, “Pharisees” – Hebrew for “Separated Ones” – came as a result of their strict observance of ritual piety, and their determination to keep Judaism from being contaminated by foreign religious practices. Their hostile reaction to the raising of Lazarus had nothing to do with the raising of Lazarus, but rather with the fact that it occurred on the Sabbath which was considered a crime.

Jesus actually had some common ground with the Pharisees. They believed in angels and demons. They believed in the human soul and upheld the doctrine of resurrection from the dead and future life. Theologically, they were hostile to the Sadducees, an aristocratic priestly class that denied resurrection, the soul, angels, and any authority beyond the Torah. (Read more.)

Suffering in Congo

From The Catholic Herald:
Congo’s bishops have said Catholics are facing a new wave of violence following the collapse of a Church mediation plan, and in some places Church leaders have fled to the forest. In late March, the bishops abandoned attempts to arrange a government-opposition power-sharing settlement and, within days, violence erupted in eastern Congo. “The militias are continuing their macabre operations – each passing day sees new killings and burning of religious buildings,” said a statement on the bishops’ conference website.

“The worst affected is the Diocese of Luebo, where the bishop’s house, library, sisters’ convent and vehicles have been burned, and priests and religious have fled to the forest with other inhabitants. The situation is harsh and unbearable.”

The statement followed attacks on church personnel and property in Congo’s Kasai and Kivu regions. Bishop Sebastien Muyengo Mulombe of Uvira said the situation in Kivu had been exacerbated by the arrival of 15,000 refugees from neighbouring Burundi, adding that he had been forced to suspend wages to teachers at local church schools after a delivery driver was killed in a robbery. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Music for Holy Week and Easter

From The Imaginative Conservative:
Rossini’s setting of the scene of the Stabat Mater—whose text comes from a thrirteenth-century hymn possibly written by Pope Innocent III—comes a century and a quarter after the realization by his compatriot Vivaldi, and it is worlds apart in style as well as time. Drawing on the tradition of bel canto (“beautiful singing”) that he helped to make famous, Rossini’s effort is operatic in many sections, never more so than in the second movement, “Cuius animam gementem” (“Through her weeping soul”), in which the tenor sings, to a breezy tune, words of the utmost pathos. (Read more.)

Is Your Back Story Sabotaging Your Novel?

From Jane Friedman:
I often see manuscripts where the writer has invented a detailed and dramatic back story for a character, but the main story events lack impact and substance. There is no meat left for the book’s real-time plot and so the novel seems empty and static. Of course, the story may be precisely that; the character might be coming to terms with past mistakes. The focus might be the finer detail of living with a burden, or leaving behind a golden period that is gone forever. But just as often, this approach is not deliberate and the writer is scrabbling around, trying to find stuff for the characters to do. They don’t realize they’ve already got fantastic ideas, but hidden them in the back story. Could that back story be used as a fully fleshed flashback so the reader could participate? Or, more radically, could those same ideas be extracted from the past and reworked as a forward-moving plot? Consider whether your back story ideas should be front story. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

An Easter Menu

From Southern Lady:
Spring’s garden harvest shines in this tableau and its accompanying menu, full of bright flavors that celebrate the season. Cap off the feast with a glorious lemon cake topped by a cloud of limoncello-kissed frosting—a slice of sunshine on a plate.
Menu Selections
Honey Apricot Glazed Ham
Roasted Spring Vegetables
Arugula Potato Salad
Dilly Rolls
Dreamy Lemon Cake with Limoncello Frosting (Read more.)

The New-Martyrs of Egypt

From The Catholic Gentleman:
As the smoke cleared, the devastation became apparent. Blood and body parts covered the floor, pews, and walls. Palm branches that were moments ago held aloft in joyful celebration were now scattered on the ground. Wails and cries erupted as survivors identified the dead as their loved ones and friends. Passion week had truly begun for these Egyptian Christians, entered into and sealed with sorrow.

I shed tears with a broken heart for these dear Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt. They have suffered so much for being faithful to the name of Jesus. In my home, I have a copy of the original icon created by a Coptic Christian after 21 Copts were kidnapped and beheaded on a beach in Libya. They died repeating the name of Jesus. “The people of the Cross,” their killers called them with spite and hatred in their voice. And so they were, though their killers knew not that it was the sign of their triumph and not their defeat.

The word martyr comes from the Greek word meaning witness. In the early church, the martyrs were the most cherished treasures of the ekklesia. Their mangled bodies were recovered from the places of their executions and buried with great love and honor. Prayers were offered at their graves and many of their names are still remembered and venerated today. (Read more.)
More HERE. Share

Five Problems to Avoid in Your First Novel

From The Creative Penn:
As a reader or a movie goer, how frustrating is it when a character doesn’t turn out to be more than they seem? It means the writer didn’t have any insight into the inner life of this person or their world. When a character has depth, we want to spend time with them – regardless of whether they’re good or evil, sympathetic or not – we’re drawn to their story and compelled to find out more. One effective way to make sure your character is rich and multi-dimensional is to write their backstory. This backstory is written outside your novel, and it should tell the character’s individual story—where they come from, what drives them and why—along with details about their life. You can think of it as a mini history, and ask yourself what you might write if you were doing it for a family member or friend. You might include details about where they were born and who their relatives are, along with defining moments in their life, and tidbits about what they like or dislike. In other words, you would include the big things, along with quirks that make them unique. You might scratch your head and wonder why this is necessary. It’s not going to be in the book after all. Who cares about their backstory? (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Gathering of Egg Cups

From Victoria:
As diminutive as they are exquisitely detailed, these shapely collectibles garner appreciation that exceeds their dainty proportions. Beyond cradling soft-cooked eggs served at brunch, they can be used in myriad ways. Companies began offering eggcups in their most beloved china patterns during Victorian times, but these charming serving dishes were first noted among culinary traditions generations before. (Read more.)

Abortion Does Not Empower Women

From Live Action:
Society tells us that abortion empowers women. Media personalities, Hollywood celebrities, and pro-choice activists call an act that destroys a living human being a “woman’s right.” We’re told abortion is a personal choice, a private matter, a decision which can bring the promise of a better life. The language of abortion being ‘safe, legal and rare’ has been replaced with the language of  ‘abortion positivity’ and ‘reproductive justice.’ While some may assert that no one is ‘pro-abortion,’ abortion is labeled as a ‘social good,’ — and even the sale of various types of pro-abortion paraphernalia is becoming more common.

As a woman in America, I’m often told supporting women includes accepting their right to legal abortion. In order to belong to the ‘sisterhood,’ I should toe the line and support abortion on demand. Women are fed the message that regardless of morality, the law permits us to decide the fate of children growing inside of us. We either agree with the “my body, my choice” rhetoric or face accusations of hating those who share our gender. If we dare believe in women’s empowerment or feminism without support of abortion, we’re mocked or pressured into silence. (Read more.)

For Writers: How to Deal with Rejection

From The Creative Penn:
What danger is to a cop, rejection is to a writer–always hanging in the air dripping with possibility. And drip it does, onto the talented and untalented in almost equal measure. Actually it doesn’t just drip; it pours. Rejection has a 360-degree aim — from literary agents who don’t want you as a client, editors who don’t want your manuscript, publishers who give you an insulting advance, bad reviews from literary critics, hate speeches on Amazon, and of course the ultimate rejection—poor sales. Somebody, somewhere at just about every stage of your writing life gives you the finger, a hand and sometimes the whole arm. Success makes it worse because now you have more to lose. Who do you think suffers more—the newbie who can’t get her first manuscript accepted or the best seller who can’t get his last published because his prior two books tanked? Success, as any best-selling author knows, doesn’t protect you from rejection. (Read more.)