Thursday, October 31, 2019

An Irish Halloween

The picture above was painted by Irish artist Daniel Maclise in 1833, inspired by a typical Irish Halloween party. (Click on picture for details.) It was called "snap-apple night." Here is the caption which accompanied the painting:
There Peggy was dancing with Dan/While Maureen the lead was melting,/To prove how their fortunes ran/With the Cards ould Nancy dealt in;/There was Kate, and her sweet-heart Will,/In nuts their true-love burning,/And poor Norah, though smiling still/She'd missed the snap-apple turning.
For the ancient Celts, November 1 was Samhain, their New Year's day. It is not necessary to detail some of the more gruesome pagan customs which accompanied the festivities in pre-Christian times, customs which eventually disappeared as the Faith spread and took hold. Nevertheless, on a more positive note, the Celts believed that on the day in question the veil between the worlds grew thin, and one could easily pass from world to world, from time into eternity.

As Christians, in celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints, the sacred liturgy permits us to glimpse the place where the blessed ones dwell in light. We are led to think of all the dead, of the awe-inspiring realties of death, judgment, heaven and hell. On All Souls' Day we recall those who are still undergoing purgation in the realm beyond time. We, too, through the Mass and through prayer, pass from world to world, for all are present to God.

Here is an article (via A Conservative Blog for Peace) which elucidates on the history of All Hallows' Eve, the pagan versus Christian aspects and how the Irish, French, Germans, and English brought it all to North America. To quote:
Halloween can still serve the purpose of reminding us about Hell and how to avoid it. Halloween is also a day to prepare us to remember those who have gone before us in Faith, those already in Heaven and those still suffering in Purgatory. The next time someone claims Halloween is a cruel trick to lure our children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of Halloween and let them know about its Catholic roots and significance. (By Fr Scott Archer)
 More on Irish Halloween traditions HERE.

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Anatomy of 2020

From The National Review:
For all the bluster, it is hard to see how the Democrats enjoy a winning hand. The catalyst for this version of the latest episode of the serial coup was the late, great “whistleblower” complaint. But by any definition, the anonymous leaker is by no means a whistleblower. He did not go first to the IG, but to Adam Schiff’s staff, a fact Schiff abjectly lied about. The rules prohibiting hearsay complaints were recently and mysteriously changed to facilitate the complaints like those of the current leaker — hearsay that a short time ago would not have been permissible.

The melodrama allegations of quid pro quo deal-making with the Ukrainian president were belied by Trump’s own release of the transcript of his call. The details showed bluster, not high crimes and misdemeanors, and it did not even match the whistleblower’s second- and third-hand versions of the call — a fact emphasized by Schiff’s bizarre made-up rendition, during a congressional hearing, of the transcript, which Schiff branded a “parody.” That the once coveted whistleblower will likely fade back into the bureaucratic abyss — without Democrats wanting him to be seen, heard, or cross-examined — is a testament to just how ridiculous is the latest iteration of impeaching Trump.
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Halloween and Catholicism

May 13, which is the feast of Our Lady, Queen of All Martyrs, was the original All Saints Day. So the origins of All Saints and Halloween had nothing to do with Samhain, as some people seem to think. Later, the Pope changed All Saints from May to November because after the harvest there was more food in Rome to feed the pilgrimsAnd for other reasons, as told in the article. From uCatholic:
The practice of a festival day to honor the whole communion of Saints, rather than that just a single saint, seems to happen for the first time in the Catholic Church with the consecration of the Pantheon as a public place for the Church’s worship. This happened in the year 609 (or 610) on May 13th. The Pantheon had been originally dedicated for the use of Roman religion as a place where all the gods would be honored. Boniface displaced the images of the gods from their shrines and gave the building over to the Saints of the Church, particularly the Martyrs. This was a kind of “in your face” to pagan culture. Boniface was saying that the old gods had been defeated and were defeated by the faith of the Church’s Martyrs. 
Also, May 13th was a day associated in Roman religion with what was called the festival of the Lemurs or ancestral spirits. It is likely that Boniface’s choice of this day to claim the Pantheon for Christian worship was intentional and it was a way of saying that the Martyrs are the great ancestors of all the baptized and it is their memory and witness that is rightly honored on the day that Romans recalled their ancestors. 
How we get from May 13th to November 1st is interesting. The festival of All Saints seems to emerge from the dedication of another Roman church that was consecrated by Pope Gregory III. The church is named St. Peter and all the Saints. It was a subsequent pope, Gregory IV, who extended the annual festival that commemorates this church dedication to the whole Church as All Saints Day. The extension of festivals specific to the Church of Rome is an part and parcel of how the Catholic Faith becomes the underlying cultural matrix from which a new kind of European civilization would emerge. (Read more.)
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At Least The Borgias Had Good Taste

From Charles Coulombe at Crisis:
The chaos reigning in the Vatican has driven many orthodox Catholics to despair. Perhaps their despair escalated after Francis declared himself unafraid of schism—a fear which led his last two predecessors to treat their ideological opponents within the Church gingerly. But such fear makes sense only if one believes the salvation of souls is bound up with their membership in the Church. If one is free of such belief, then neither schism nor heresy, nor even idolatry, holds any such terror. Of course, such an attitude would be neo-Pelagianism, which the Pope has repeatedly condemned.
In any case, as a thought experiment, let’s say that those who are fearful of the current senescent regime in Rome are absolutely justified in their apprehension. What’s really behind that fear? It’s the possibility that the Catholic faith isn’t true—that, thanks to her current leadership, the Church will prove just as vagrant as the Anglican Communion, and as willing burning incense to the great ones of this world.

Before we can look at lesser issues, we must look at this one. My response to this (admittedly worrisome) situation is threefold.

Firstly, the Catholic religion is true. Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, really did become Incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit; he did indeed die upon the Cross to open the gates of Heaven to fallen humanity. He founded the Catholic Church—made up in every age of fallen, sinful, and often pathetic individuals, such as ourselves—to apply his merits to her members via the Sacraments, to share his teachings, and to drive off the forces of darkness. As a token of her commission, signs, and wonders have ever accompanied her on her long journey. Those tokens include (but are not limited to) the five approved Eucharistic miracles of the past 25 years, the apparitions at Fatima, and the countless medical miracles required of prospective saints and blesseds. 
That being said, the history of the Church is stained with the misdeeds of wicked and foolish pontiffs. Regardless of how the present or future may evaluate Pope Francis, no one can defend John XII, Benedict IX, Stephen VI, or the rest of that beastly fraternity. Still, the Church is not the Mystical Body of the Pope, but the Mystical Body of Christ. This reality doesn’t change, no matter what may happen in Vatican City. If one lives under such a pontiff—well, as is so often the case, J.R.R. Tolkien has some apropos advice:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

And what have we to do with that time? Just like the best of our forebears, we must strive to be saints. Adore the Eucharist, say the rosary, venerate the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts and the Precious Blood. Support solid clerics. Encourage our disheartened brethren, and evangelize those seeking truth. Above all, avoid giving in to anger or despair. The devil uses these vices to tempt us just as surely as he uses perversion, crime, and infidelity. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Gustav Klimt at 100

From Mental Floss:
The dresses now so closely associated with Klimt's work were a collaboration with Emilie Louise Flöge, a Vienna native Klimt met when she was just 18. Until Klimt's death in 1918, Emilie remained a close companion and perhaps a lover, and was a groundbreaking fashion designer with a radical streak in her own right. (Pictured: Emilie and Klimt in 1910.) 
Klimt met Emilie after his brother married her sister—and then promptly died. Klimt was left to care for the widow, which allowed him to spend plenty of time with the family Flöge and young Emilie. (Pictured: The three Flöge sisters, with Emilie at the far left, and Klimt in a rowboat in 1910.) (Read more.)
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How The Obama Administration Set In Motion Democrats’ Coup Against Trump

From The Federalist:
Hillary Clinton’s communications team decided within twenty-four hours of her concession speech to message that the election was illegitimate, that Russia had interfered to help Trump. Obama was working against Trump until the hour he left office. His national security advisor, Susan Rice, commemorated it with an email to herself on January 20, moments before Trump’s inauguration. She wrote to memorialize a meeting in the White House two weeks before.
On January 5, following a briefing by IC leadership on Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential election, President Obama had a brief follow-on conversation with FBI Director Jim Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in the Oval Office. Vice President Biden and I were also present. President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities “by the book.” The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book. From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia. . . .The President asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would.
The repetition of “by the book” gave away the game—for there was nothing normal about any of it. Rice wrote an email to herself. It commemorated a conversation from two weeks before. The conversation was about the FBI’s investigation of the man who was about to move into the White House—an investigation from which Obama was careful to distance himself. During the conversation, the outgoing president instructed his top aides to collect information (“ascertain”) regarding the incoming administration’s relationship with Russia. (Read more.)

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New Discovery at Luxor

From the BBC:
The coffins, whose brightly-coloured decorations are still visible, were uncovered at the Theban necropolis of Asasif, on the River Nile's west bank. They were in two layers, with the ones on top across those below. The ministry described the discovery as "one of the largest and most important" in recent years. More details will be released at a news conference on Saturday. Most of the tombs at Asasif, which is close to the Valley of the Kings, are from the Late Period (664-332BC) of ancient Egypt. However, there are also tombs from the earlier 18th Dynasty (1550-1292BC), which was the first of the New Kingdom and included the famous pharaohs Ahmose, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Akhenaton and Tutankhamun.Last week, the antiquities ministry announced that archaeologists had discovered an ancient "industrial area" in Luxor's West Valley. The area included "houses for storage and the cleaning of funerary furniture, with many potteries dated to the 18th Dynasty", it said. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Fall of Minoan Civilization

From The Daily Mail:
Experts once thought that the eruption of a volcano named Thera, on what is now the holiday island of Santorini, in around 1642–1540 BC had destroyed the Minoans. This eruption has been rivalled in modern times only by the colossal explosion of Krakatoa in 1883. It was thought to have triggered a tsunami that travelled south to Crete, destroying the Minoan port at the Bronze Age city of Knossos.

Evidence of destruction dating to around the time of the eruption has been found in various settlements on Crete — and was originally connected to the Thera disaster. However, the translation of unusual script on a set of tablets — the language was dubbed Linear B — on Minoan-era tablets helped overturn the end-by-tsunami theory. It took decades, but Linear B was identified as a form of ancient Greek. This gave evidence that the Mycenaean civilisation from the mainland had heavily changed, but continued, the Minoan culture. (Read more.)
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An Abortionist Testifies

From The Daily Wire:
Alisa Goldberg, who presented the video, “spoke about using large doses of the drug misoprostol in order to carry out second-trimester induced abortions in one day rather than the four it usually takes,” Live Action reported. “Smith testified that this would lead to a live birth. Large doses of misoprostol, said Smith, would cause ‘tumultuous labor’ that leads to ‘fetal expulsion’ — meaning the baby would be born without any assistance from the abortionist and no instruments would be used. He testified that very few abortionists other than Planned Parenthood do this.”

“In this case clearly the intent is same-day surgery. They fully intend to put the uterus into labor,” Smith said. When pressed if this would “lead to a live birth,” the abortionist answered, “There’s no question in my mind that at least some of these fetuses were live births.” Smith also noted that a baby would “no question” be born “alive” in cases where Digoxin, which is used to cause heart failure in abortions, is not used, according to Live Action. “No question it’s alive,” Smith said. 

The California abortionist said that a beating heart is what indicates a live or deceased baby — as opposed to “no breathing” or “no movement.” 

“All testimony we have seen, no breathing, no movement, no cord” he said, or “arms, legs torn off, the assumption is: that is fetal demise. But that’s completely wrong.” The abortionist’s testimony was particular jarring since Smith once loathed Daleiden and wished to expose him as a “fraud.” That changed when the doctor watched the undercover videos and spoke to Daleiden directly. (Read more.)
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Why Feminism Is Making Women Stressful

Taking the mother out of the home is the quickest way to destroy the family. From Return to Order:
Contrary to the false narratives of the feminist movement, women have long contributed to the economic lives of their families. Medieval noblewomen ran castles and estates – often for years at a time – while their husbands were attending to military and political duties in distant places. The wives of artisans assisted their husbands in their crafts, sometimes even taking over the shop after the husband’s death. Farm women routinely provided needed assistance in the fields at harvest time. There was much more unity of family and workplaces. The radical separation of spouses was the product of the Industrial Revolution. Factories created workplaces that were entirely separate from the home. The greater physical strength of men and the caring nature of women usually meant that the husband went out to work while the wife worked in the home. Men assumed the stressful, dual roles of employee and traditional role as head of the household. 
The feminist movement convinced many women that the workplace was superior to that of the home. Germaine Greer and Betty Friedan spun the myth that women without careers were repressed and downtrodden. Consumerism convinced families that they needed huge homes, expensive cars and recreational toys to maintain their social and economic status. Women worked outside as a result. 
These women experienced the same stressful dual role of worker and parent as men had earlier. However, their caring nature made it difficult for them to lay down most parts of domestic labor. In response, the women’s movement spun the myth of un-supportive husbands. This untruth created artificial divisions between spouses. Those divisions increased the stress on marriage and led to a significantly rising divorce rate. (Read more.)
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Monday, October 28, 2019

The Coffee Houses of Queen Anne’s London

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
By the turn of the eighteenth century the coffee houses of London had become the great meeting-places of the capital – for relaxation and for stimulation. Whether your drink of choice was coffee, chocolate, or expensive tea, it was here you met with your friends and encountered strangers; where you could exercise your wit, pick up the latest news, sound forth your political opinions, and hear the latest spicy gossip as it did the rounds. Some characters (like Medley in Etherege’s The Man of Mode) were news bulletins in themselves, circulating scandal as a currency – one that gained value in the telling – perhaps to crash by tomorrow. A French traveller found London’s coffee houses remarkable: “You have all manner of news there: you have a good fire, which you may sit by as long as you please; you have a dish of coffee; you meet your friends for the transaction of business – and all for a penny, if you don’t care to spend more.” (Henri Misson, 1717). 
Coffee houses had their individual character, and this might change over the course of a day. Early in the morning the news-mongers circulated, spreading and exchanging the overnight intelligence; later, well-informed gentlemen might stroll in and put matters right; by afternoon the atmosphere was perhaps one of after-dinner reflection; then the place would ready itself for the arrival of the wits and the theatrical crowd primed for the adventures of the evening; and by nine the critics might reappear with their judgments on the new play at the Theatre Royal. 
First established in London during the Commonwealth, after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the coffee houses seem to have gained a reputation for seditious conversation – places that might attract the disaffected. In December 1675 King Charles II issued a proclamation in the London Gazette to suppress all coffee houses as being the haunts of “Idle and disaffected persons” who were spreading “malicious and scandalous reports to the defamation of His Majesties Government . . . speaking evil of things they understand not.” From the following week it would be forbidden for anyone “to keep any publick Coffeehouse, or to utter or sell any Coffee, Chocolet, Sherbett or Tea, or they will answer the contrary at their utmost Perils.” It was a Draconian move against an institution that was becoming popular, and needless to say, this attempt to end what was proving to be a profitable trade for merchants and proprietors alike, was doomed. After a huge outcry the threat was withdrawn.* (*https://www.thegazette.co.uk/all-notices/content/100707). (Read more.)
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Resisting the Haters

From The Daily Signal:
I’d like to hasten to say that obviously there are many federal employees who do their job dutifully every day, but there is a significant minority that have openly said they’re a part of the resistance. There’s been some different tapes of them saying, “We belong to the resistance, we exist to undermine what he’s doing here and throw sand in the works of his agenda,” but there’s also just more compelling evidence of the problems that this causes. I cite, for instance, Sen. Ron Johnson, who runs a government committee in the Senate. His staff did an analysis of the first 125 days of the Trump administration. In that time period, there were 126 leaks, more than one a day, and many of them dealt with really sensitive national security information. These were not coming from Trump’s own appointees or people he brought in. These were coming from the bureaucracy at some point, or [from] former Obama officials, as well. This has not only harmed national security—and again, a lot of the book is trying to point out the destruction of this, the problems that come with this—but the American public, if you look out at the polls, they’ve lost enormous faith in federal government and in the bureaucracy and in their belief that the federal bureaucracy exists to do the right thing. (Read more.)
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How to Save America

Other than prayer, healthy marriages are the answer. From Senator Marco Rubio:
From 2009 to 2017, the frequency of depression among American kids between ages 14 to 17 soared over 60 percent. The result, unsurprisingly, has been an epidemic of self-harm among young people. The teenage suicide rate has hit the highest recorded in American history.

What can we do to right these wrongs? There are many factors that contribute to children’s well-being, but none is more important than strong families. We know this because it’s in our DNA, of course; stable, two-parent families have been the bedrock of all successful civilizations throughout all of history. 
We also know it because the data bears it out. On average, kids who grow up in households with stable, married parents enjoy better health and behavioral outcomes in childhood than those with more precarious home lives. They also typically enjoy higher rates of educational and financial success later in life. Areas of the country with higher rates of marriage are consistently more prosperous, even after controlling for other variables. And as marriage becomes more a of luxury, we risk falling into a self-perpetuating cycle. 
It’s our imperative as policymakers to protect and expand our laws that promote strong families. For this reason, I’ve worked to expand the federal per-child tax credit and proposed that we create an option for parents to use their Social Security benefits for paid parental leave. (RELATED: Republicans Need To Think Big On Family Policy)

While those proposals are important, they only serve to treat the symptoms, not the cause. They may make it more affordable to raise a family, but they do not tell young adults why they should take on the sacrifice that starting a family and raising children requires. We need deeper cultural revival to do that. 
Put another way, no law can force someone to be a better parent or spouse. But government officials can start by being more explicit about what makes strong families. Marriage should be a lifelong commitment between two people. Married couples should have and raise children. Similarly, abortion at any stage of pregnancy ends a human life that has been created by God. That the declining strength of families has occurred during the same period since abortion was legalized by Roe v. Wade should be no surprise. These truths should guide the interpretation of our existing laws. (Read more.)
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Sunday, October 27, 2019

It Is A Truth Universally Acknowledged That Jane Austen Pairs Well With Tea


From NPR:
In an essay on Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf observed, "Of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness." To that double-edged and astute assessment, one can add, she is also the most difficult to catch in the act of tea-time. This observation might seem irksomely contrarian to the legions of Janeites in hats and bonnets gathered around tea and scones to pay fealty to the novelist on the bicentenary of her death, which falls today. 
'Jane Austen and tea' is after all, a comely capitalist hustle that has spawned a cottage industry of crockery, tea towels, tea bags, tea rooms and boutique brews named Dashing Willoughby, Marianne's Wild Abandon and, in a nice comic touch, Compassion For Mrs. Bennet's Nerves. Austen would have been especially amused by the latter – her mother, a vigorous hypochondriac who lived to the ripe age of 88 and who almost certainly inspired the high-strung Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, was constantly sipping on dandelion tea to soothe her mysterious "bilious complaint." But to turn to Austen's novels to savor her much-paraded relationship with tea is to set oneself up for disappointment. Tea is mentioned frequently but never fully. The sampling of lines below, variations of which occur throughout her six novels, illustrates the brisk indifference with which Austen treats tea.

"The tea things were brought in" (Sense and Sensibility)
"When the tea-things were removed, and the card-tables placed" (Pride and Prejudice)
"Dinner was soon followed by tea and coffee" (Mansfield Park)
"Mr. Woodhouse was soon ready for his tea; and when he had drank his tea he was quite ready to go home" (Emma)
"tea was over, and the instrument in preparation" (Emma)
"some of them did decide on going in quest of tea" (Persuasion)
"Mr. Tilney drank tea with us, and I always thought him a great addition" (Northanger Abbey)
Characters are always on their way to tea or from it and the tea things are either being brought in or cleared away. Tea serves as no more than a conjunction to join the two more significant parts of the evening: the dinner that precedes it and the recreation that follows it, involving a musical performance or card games like whist or quadrille. But of the ceremony of tea-drinking itself, there is precious little. There is no description of the kinds of tea being imbibed – whether oolong, hyson, congou, bohea or gunpowder; nothing on the elaborate equipage – the tea caddies, silver urns, flowered china, silver teaspoons, tea tables; and no acidic observations on the affectations and gossip associated with tea drinking. (Read more.)

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Communist Influences are Destroying the US

As Our Lady of Fatima said: "Russia [aka USSR] will spread her errors throughout the world." But the tide has now turned. From Life Site:
The leftward propulsion of American socio-political-economic life during the New Deal and in the 1960s has, this writer would propose, converged with collapsing family values during the past sixty years. Contempt for the family is part of the communist program going back to 1848. The voices of hateful anti-America protest continue to promote communism as the answer to our society's issues. America is now in disintegration mode despite President Donald Trump's desire to reinstate some respect for our institutions after decades of neglect.  How did we arrive at this point of social and political disintegration? The voices of socialist potentiality began to move with greater confidence during the New Deal, but they had not wrested total control over the Democratic Party. (Read more.)

From The Christian Post:
According to socialists like Bernie Sanders, the greatest problem in the world is the unequal distribution of wealth. His website declares: "The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time." This betrays a fundamentally materialistic worldview, which is the basis of socialism. To socialists, all that really exists is the material world. In fact, Karl Marx, the father of socialism/communism, invented the notion of dialectical materialism — the belief that matter contains a creative power within itself. This enabled Marx to eliminate the need for a creator, essentially erasing the existence of anything non-material.

To socialists, suffering is caused by the unequal distribution of stuff — and salvation is achieved by the re-distribution of stuff. There's no acknowledgment of spiritual issues. There's just an assumption that if everyone is given equal stuff, all the problems in society will somehow dissolve. This worldview contradicts Christianity, which affirms the existence of both a material and a non-material world — and teaches that mankind's greatest problems are spiritual. The Bible says the cause of suffering is sin and salvation is found in the cross of Christ, which liberates us from sin. Because of sin, though, there will always be inequalities in wealth. As the parable of the talents shows, those with good character tend to accumulate more; those with bad character may lose everything they have. Yet, even if we are unable to accumulate wealth, Christianity teaches that we can still have an abundant life. That's because our quality of life is not determined by how much stuff we have, but by our relationship to Christ. (Read more.)
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Europe's Most Brutal Witch Hunts

From National Geographic:
Scotland was not alone in falling victim to witchcraft panics in the late 16th century and first half of the 17th century. Witch-hunting plagued Europe, beginning in the 15th century when the idea that witches worshipped the devil began to take hold. Burgundy, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Scandinavia all endured outbreaks of witch panics during this time. After the Reformation divided Europe into Protestant and Catholic in the early 16th century, both sides hunted witches. During this period of religious reform, rulers wanted to prove their godliness. They perceived the unholy and evil as the source of unrest and disorder. (See how Satan and his punishments were depicted in the Middle Ages.)
Witch-hunting could be seen as an extension of the Protestant Reformation as parish ministers and government authorities sought to create a “godly state” in which everyone worshipped correctly, and sin and ungodliness were wiped out. In numerical terms, Scotland’s witch hunts were severe. Between 1590 and 1662, five intense panics erupted across Scotland: 1590-91, 1597, 1628-1631, 1649-1650, and 1661-62. (Watch an animated history of Martin Luther's starting the Reformation.)
As a result of these panics, out of a population of roughly a million people, about 2,500 accused witches, most of them women, were executed, five times the average European execution rate per capita. Scotland’s susceptibility to widespread panic over witches and witchcraft was, in part, determined by the role of one man: the Scottish ruler King James VI, who, following the death of Elizabeth I, became King James I of England in 1603. (Read more.)

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Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Queen's Speech

Two weeks ago, Queen Elizabeth II opened Parliament amid ancient pageantry. From The Express:
Prince Charles accompanied the Queen through the House of Lords holding her hand. They were preceded by The Marquess of Cholmondeley carrying the Imperial Crown. For the occasion, the Queen wore a silver dress with her signatory ermine's royal robe. And for the second time since 1952, she chose not to wear the Imperial Crown but have it placed on a table next to her.

The first time the Queen broke this key tradition concerning the Queen's Speech was in 2017, days after the snap elections called by former Prime Minister Theresa May. The Imperial State Crown was originally made for King George VI's coronation in 1937 - the Queen's father. The crown, based on the design of Queen Victoria's crown, is particularly heavy and it is no surprise the monarch, aged 93, chose not to wear it. (Read more.)



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Trump Keeps Word About No More Wars

From Townhall:
Donald Trump came into office promising to not start any new wars and to get us out of the old ones our feckless elite had dragged us into, and now that he’s doing it in Syria the usual suspects are outraged. How dare he actually deliver on his promise not to have anymore of our precious warriors shipped home in boxes after getting killed on battlefields we can’t even pronounce, while refereeing conflicts that began long before America was a thing, in campaigns without any kind of coherent objective?
Conservatives like me still think of ourselves as hawks, but after hard experience we have learned to be hawkish only where America’s interests are directly at stake. We’re not doves. We’re just not going to spill our troops’ blood when we do not absolutely have to. The elite may not like our attitude, but then it’s generally not the elite that ends up having to bury its sons, daughters, husbands and wives. We do. I generally like the Kurds. I generally dislike the Turks. But they’ve been killing each other for a long time and no one has yet offered a sufficient reason why America should stick its troops in the crossfire between them. We hear words like “betrayal” tossed around, often by people whose track record re: honor is (charitably) lacking, but that assumes America had a say in this latest round ramping up. If the Turks are intent on invading, a firm “No” from the Oval office is not going to stop a battalion of Leopard tanks. If you want to stop them, you have to be prepared to stop them. That means war, and the president – along with millions of us – say “No thanks.” (Read more.)
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What Introverts Hate

I would always prefer to stay home rather than go to the gym. But sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone. From Introvert, Dear:
As an introvert, I view socializing much like I view other aspects of my life that I know are good for me in the long run, but really aren’t very enjoyable in the moment. Do I really want to go to the gym when I could just go home and watch Netflix? No. Do I really want a salad for lunch when I could have a hamburger? No. Do I really want to go to a party when I could curl up in bed with a book and a cup of tea? It’s a no-brainer.

However, to reap the rewards, you have to put in the work. It’s all about balance. Just like I might treat myself to a piece of chocolate cake as a reward for all those days at the gym last week, I’ll spend a quiet Saturday night at home because I know I already put in a night of socializing and interacting with people outside of my comfort zone on Friday.

The reward of staying in is so much sweeter when it’s saved as its own unique event to look forward to — whereas staying home with a book feels a whole lot less special when you’re doing it for the tenth night in a row. Sometimes you have to go out to fully appreciate staying in, and vice versa. I never would’ve met some of my closest friends if I chose to stay home and read all the time. Those relationships I have now were worth the anxiety and apprehension I felt upon venturing out of my comfort zone to establish them.

Unfortunately, finding those kinds of relationships is rare, because socializing doesn’t always have tangible rewards. Sometimes I leave an event feeling drained and wishing I’d never left the house. Other times, I might feel that it went okay, but I know the surface-level conversations I held all evening probably won’t lead to any life-altering friendships. But that’s okay, because not every conversation or evening out has to be life-altering. (Read more.)
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Friday, October 25, 2019

The Waters and Woodlands of Cornwall



For those like myself who enjoy stories about Cornwall, everything from the legends of King Arthur to the Poldark saga, it is good to know that the duchy is thriving under the nurturing guidance of the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles, as Duke of Cornwall, has invested in the land and the people and worked with them to bring prosperity in a way that hearkens to the better aspects of past times. And perhaps better than ever before. It reminds me, on a much larger scale, of what Marie-Antoinette tried to do at Trianon. From The Duchy of Cornwall website:
Guided by the current Duke of Cornwall, the Duchy takes a long-term approach to the sustainable management of these woodlands, many of which have existed for several centuries. In 1997, the Duchy committed to 'continuous cover' or 'close-to-nature' forestry principles. The aim here is to rely, wherever possible, on nature to achieve sustainable and diverse woodlands. Sensitively managed, these woodlands will not only contain valuable timber and a wealth of wildlife but will also be attractive environments for the public, many of whom enjoy strolling through the Duchy’s woods.

Sometimes a particularly rare species or feature is found within a woodland, requiring a unique plan of action. For example, Greenscombe Wood in east Cornwall contains a Site of Special Scientific Interest thanks to the presence of the rare heath fritillary butterfly. As a result, management here focuses on maintaining a suitable habitat for this species. Similarly, Aconbury Wood in Herefordshire contains a hill fort, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The woodland is therefore managed with the aim of preserving the hill fort for future generations to enjoy.

To create a 'virtuous circle', timber harvested from the woodlands is often used on the wider Duchy estate. It can be found, for example, in the lintels, window frames and beams at the regenerated Harewood End estate in Herefordshire. Even the woodchip is used to smoke some of the food products, whilst any logs are used for wood burning stoves in the Duchy Holiday Cottages.
The woodlands in Cornwall and Devon are mostly dominated by conifers (often known as softwoods), particularly Douglas fir, larch and red cedar. Such fast-growing species were planted back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, either on former fields that were no longer suitable for use in agriculture, or in existing woodland. These species perform very well in the warm, moist climate of the south-west peninsula.
The woodlands in Herefordshire tend to contain more native broadleaved species, particularly oak, ash, chestnut, cherry and hazel. The deep and loamy soils in this part of the country make it an outstanding area for growing fine quality hardwoods. (Read more.)
From ITV:
The prince has been described by the Duchy of Cornwall’s keeper of records Alastair Martin as “very hands on” in his role. Mr Martin is also responsible for preparing the Duke of Cambridge who will one day inherit the estate from his father. Charles said his eldest son has had time to prepare himself for his upcoming responsibilities. “He’s quite lucky because I found myself there at 21. I had a bit of baptism of fire really,” Charles said. “He goes and visits different parts of the Duchy of Cornwall, and so he is learning, I hope, as time goes by.”
The Duke of Cambridge appears briefly in the episode and said he has started to think about how he will inherit the Duchy. “Rest assured I’m not going to rock the boat. I’ll do much the same as what my father’s doing,” William said. The documentary follows Charles to all corners of the estate – from family farms, to the Isles of Scilly and his model village of Poundbury in Dorset.
Charles said the idea behind Poundbury was to build a community rather than “another housing estate” but acknowledges it was met with criticism. “Everybody was against it, and in the end I was determined to stick to my guns,” he said. Farmers are the core of the Duchy with about 700 farming tenancies within the estate. Charles notes how in his half a century as custodian he has watched as younger generations have taken over family farms, just like he took over as duke after the Queen’s accession to the throne.
“For me the wonderful thing is the connection between my family and their families,” he said. His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, also appears in the documentary and revealed how important the estate is to the prince.
“It’s not just a business, I think it encompasses everything he is passionate about,” she said. The estate is a private portfolio of land, financial investments and property – including the Oval cricket ground in Kennington and 67,000 acres of Dartmoor. (Read more.)

From The Daily Mail:
Prince Charles has revealed the importance of helping first-time farmers on his £1billion Duchy of Cornwall land in a clip released ahead of an ITV show that examines the workings of his vast estate. The 70-year-old royal is shown walking through fields while talking about the importance of 'providing opportunities' for young people to live on a farm. Prince Charles: Inside the Duchy of Cornwall, which airs at 9pm on Thursday 24th October, follows the lives of first-time farmers on the Prince's 52,000-acres, including Sam and Emily Stables, who rent 200 acres in Hertfordshire. 

Speaking candidly on the programme, Prince Charles said: 'I feel that it’s absolutely essential to provide opportunities for young people and those who are really keen, to provide them with a farm and a unit that is possible for them to start on. 'What we do with the younger ones is try to select the, the applicants very carefully, the ones with the best chance, people who, who have a real sense of enthusiasm and energy and good ideas.' The clip also shows Emily with her husband struggling to get sheep back into their pens and bringing them feed.

The pair are lucky to have got the farm, after 40 people applied for the tenancy due to its claimed sought-after 18-year tenancy offer. Airing on ITV, the programme will show how the Duchy is run, from its headquarters in Buckingham Palace to the struggling farms on the far-flung Isles of Scilly. (Read more.)
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The Fastest-Growing Insanity

From The Stream:
Did you think it had been longer than that? Don’t feel bad. It sure seems like longer. The trans movement has done way more than ten years’ worth of damage. News from Great Britain today underscores that. The Tavistock Centre in London is the United Kingdom’s one publicly funded clinic treating transgender children and adolescents. Five clinicians have just resigned from there “over concerns children were being incorrectly diagnosed with gender dysphoria,” according to the Daily Mail.

The same report quotes Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre of Evidence-based Medicine at Oxford University: “Given paucity of evidence, the off-label use of drugs in gender dysphoria treatment largely means an unregulated live experiment on children.” Let that sink in. Don’t rush past it. This movement is pushing for an unregulated live experiment on children. This is evil. And it’s growing. Fast. For years the Tavistock Centre received about 50 transgender referrals a year. Last year it got about that many per week. (Read more.)
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The Link between Stress and Depression

From The Guardian:
Small steps, incremental progress, are something that is emphasised repeatedly on the Cardiff course. This is a way to help break the stress cycle”, which describes how stress becomes chronic and self-sustaining. Let’s start with a relationship breakdown. This causes stress, with low mood, lack of motivation, etc. This leads to reduced socialisation; your friendships suffer, and you end up more miserable, more stressed. So you drink more to feel better, albeit briefly. But this makes you less healthy, more sluggish, and your work suffers. Now your job’s in trouble, your health declining. This causes more stress. So you drink more. Which means more stress. And on and on.

There is no easy fix. But at the very start of the session, we are given a brief, basic set of instructions that could, if adhered to, tangibly reduce stress. There were just 10 words: “Face your fears. Be more active. Watch what you drink.” While simple-sounding, these things conform to what we know about stress, and even mental health problems, in the scientific sense.

Facing your fears is often easier said than done but it’s a valid approach. When we confront something that scares us, that stresses us, we may not enjoy it but we impose certainty on it. All the things that could have happened and had the power to cause stress have been cancelled out. In many cases, facing your fear has a net reduction of your stress due to how our brains work.

Being more physically active is helpful in so many ways. As well as the health benefits, it also maintains a sense of control. My friend Dan found that dealing with his stress and depression has been a lot easier since getting a dog. She needs to be walked no matter what he’s feeling. Taking her means he’s stayed active and achieved something. (Read more.)

 How coffee helps. From Coffee or Die:
Additionally, coffee is a mood booster. You’ve likely seen the “But first, coffee” memes on Instagram. It’s not just a catchy saying or an excuse to blow off your coworker first thing in the morning — it’s a legitimate science-backed statement!  If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re one of the 64 percent of Americans who consume at least one cup of joe daily. Caffeine, the main compound found in coffee, is the world’s most consumed drug, and there are good reasons for that. 
  1. It triggers a dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure) response in our brain  
  2. It helps us wake up and feel more alert
  3. It can help combat effects related to depression
(Read more.)
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Thursday, October 24, 2019

In Celebration of Apples

From Victoria:
A perennial orchard favorite, apples promise a quintessential taste of fall. Enjoy their sweetness plucked from the tree and eaten fresh out of hand, or explore the culinary possibilities by cooking the iconic fruit until tender and juicy. Temperate autumn afternoons provide a sublime opportunity to entertain friends while sampling a bushel of delights. (Read more.)
Still Life with Bottle and Apple Basket by Paul Cézanne
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When the Left Goes to War in 2020

From The American Thinker:
Antifa is the paramilitary arm of the Democratic Party. Both fancy themselves as speaking truth to power, on the side of all that is right and just in the world. This is not a supposition, it is a tenet. Confidence in righteousness justifies all manner of depravity. That has included assaulting to the point of brain damage a diminutive, gay, Asian journalist (so much for respecting the “other”), intimidating an old lady using a walker as she tried to cross the street (so much for standing up for the weak), and burning MAGA hats while attacking people trying to leave a Trump rally in Minneapolis.

Notice there were no Antifa at Trump’s Texas rally. I wonder why? I’m joking, I know why. It’s because Antifa is comprised of cowardly children playing dress-up and preying on the weak. For those with sociopathic tendencies, it’s fun to punch people who won’t punch, back but unlike in Minneapolis, Ilhan Omar’s stronghold, Texas would have slaughtered them. But if Twitter is any guide, even if only anecdotally, it’s not only Texans who are willing to fight back. (Read more.)

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Thomas Paine and the French Revolution

From Miranda:
Carinne Lounissi’s study of the ‘French Paine’ is a highly valuable and necessary contribution to the wealth of scholarly work devoted to the self-styled citizen of the world. The author builds on her more theoretical study of Thomas Paine’s writings, published in 2012, to construct a contextualized portrait of the international revolutionary during the years he spent in France as an observer, commentator and agent of the French Revolution between 1787 and 1802. In doing so, she has addressed a subject which was calling out for further investigation. With the notable exception of Alfred O. Aldridge’s Man of Reason: The Life of Thomas Paine, published over sixty years ago, most of Paine’s political writings have been seen through the lens of the British radical movement and his role as a catalyst of the American Revolution. Paine’s contribution to the French Revolution has been given little substantial attention, perhaps in part due to the gaping holes in the archives, which could preclude a less determined scholar from attempting such an endeavour. Lounissi’s study engages actively with the existing body of literature on her subject, drawing upon the findings of Mark Philp, John Keane, Gary Kates and William Doyle among others, while shedding new light on many of the historiographical debates over the role of this controversial figure in French affairs, with the intention of mapping out the “complexity and multifaceted intellectual personality” of her subject and challenging much of the received wisdom (and signalling oversights) on Paine’s time in France (315). The author refutes the traditional categorisation—fueled by the damning verdict of Paine’s contemporary and associate Manon Roland1—of Paine as more of a revolutionary capable of sparking insurrection than a capable governmental theorist, by stating at the outset that there was a “thread of republican thought in his writings that grew and evolved with the various critical moments of the revolutionary era in which he lived and to which he responded in various forms” (3). (Read more.)
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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style

From William Newton at The Federalist:
The new Walters Art Museum exhibition, “Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style,” explores the life and career of one of Scotland’s most singular architects and designers, in the wider context of the avant-garde art environment that existed in late-19th and early-20th century Glasgow.

The show tracks not only the life and career of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) but also the development of the Glasgow School of Art to which he belonged, and whose premises he famously designed. The well-publicized destruction of that building in two massive, devastating fires that took place in 2014 and 2018 were a major loss to art history, making the Walters show a highly timely exhibition that’s absolutely worth seeing.
 
Yet even this retrospective helped me to understand a great deal more about Mackintosh than I had previously, particularly in gaining a greater appreciation for the role collaboration played in his work, especially with women artists and patrons. To my mind, he and his set still remain rather ambiguous figures in the history of art.

First off, kudos to the Walters for putting on a splendidly comprehensive show about an architect and his contemporaries, without being able to take us inside one of any of their buildings. Short of actually heading over to Scotland, this exhibition is probably the closest you’ll ever be able to get to fully immersing yourself in the eclectic social and cultural atmosphere of Glasgow, circa 1900.

The museum does an excellent job in showing the work of Mackintosh side by side with the work of other members of his circle, as well as bringing in works that exemplify what was influencing the Glasgow style, what they were reacting against, and thereby giving a great deal of depth and texture to the show. Visitors to the Walters, particularly those who have never heard of either Mackintosh or the Glasgow style before, would otherwise probably have felt a bit lost. (Read more.)
 More about Mackintosh, HERE.  More about the exhibition at the Walters, HERE. Share

The Rise of Young Black Conservatives

From Larry Elder at Front Page Mag:
What I know is this: Some 400 young blacks recently gathered in D.C., where they heard criticism of Democrats, liberals and the left. Speakers such as former Turning Point Communications Director Candace Owens, now a podcast host for Prager University, questioned blacks' overwhelming allegiance to the Democratic Party, arguing that the party pushes the narrative of systemic, structural and institutional racism for power and votes. After I spoke, young person after young person came up to me and said things like, "You introduced me to economics professors Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams," and, "because of you and your books and videos, I began to question the horrible things I was taught about the 'racist' Republican Party."

These young people did not think of themselves as victims. They recognized their good fortune as Americans living in a country of opportunity where their own future will be bright if they work hard. In my speech, I quoted black liberal Harvard sociology professor Orlando Patterson, who 28 years ago wrote: "The sociological truths are that America, while still flawed in its race relations ... is now the least racist white-majority society in the world; has a better record of legal protection of minorities than any other society, white or black; offers more opportunities to a greater number of black persons than any other society, including all those of Africa."

At last weekend's summit, the narrative of "structural racism" by the police was challenged with facts, studies and data. The Democrats' opposition to private vouchers was questioned, given studies showing that school choice improves reading and math scores, graduation rates and parental satisfaction. Democratic policies of reparations, race-based preferences, government-mandated minimum wage and taxes on job creators were challenged.

I have known Sowell and Williams for nearly 30 years. Their presence loomed large this weekend in Washington, D.C. For years, they were lonely voices questioning blacks' devotion to the Democratic Party. They have long argued that the welfare state has destabilized families, encouraging women "to marry the government" and men to abandon their financial and moral responsibilities. They have long argued against the job-destroying impact of the minimum wage. They have long argued that one's fate is determined not by racism but by one's willingness to invest in oneself through education, hard work and sacrifice. (Read more.)
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J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth

From The Imaginative Conservative:
To enter faerie—that is, a sacramental and liturgical understanding of creation—is to open oneself to the gradual discovery of beauty, truth, and excellence.[1] One arrives in faerie only by invitation and, even then, only at one’s peril. The truths to be found within faerie are greater than those that can be obtained through mere human understanding; and one finds within faerie that even the greatest works of man are as nothing compared with the majesty of creation. To enter faerie is, paradoxically, both a humbling and exhilarating experience. This is what the Oxford don and scholar J.R.R. Tolkien firmly believed.
The last story Tolkien published prior to his death, “Smith of Wootton Major,” follows a normal but charitably inclined man who has been graced with the ability to make extraordinarily beautiful things while metal smithing. Smith, as he is known, discovered the gift of grace on his tenth birthday, when the dawn engulfed him and “passed on like a wave of music into the West, as the sun rose above the rim of the world.”[2] Like the earth at the end of Eliot’s “Wasteland,” Tolkien’s Smith had been baptized, and through this gift he receives an invitation to faerie. While visiting that world, he discovers that in it he is the least of beings. Its beauty, however, entices him, and he spends entire days “looking only at one tree or one flower.”[3] The depth of each thing astounds him. “Wonders and mysteries,” many of them terrifying in their overwhelming beauty and truth, abound in faerie, Smith discovers, and he dwells on such wonders even when he is no longer in faerie.[4] Nevertheless, some encounters terrify him:
He stood beside the Sea of Windless Storm where the blue waves like snow-clad hills roll silently out of Unlight to the long strand, bearing the white ships that return from battles on the Dark Marches of which men know nothing. He saw a great ship cast high upon the land, and the waters fell back in foam without a sound. The elven mariners were tall and terrible; their swords shone and their spears glinted and a piercing light was in their eye. Suddenly they lifted up their voices in a song of triumph, and his heart was shaken with fear, and he fell upon his face, and they passed over him and went away into the echoing hills.[5]
And yet, despite the fact that he portrayed the man Smith in prostration before such grand visions, the rest of the story reveals that it was not Tolkien’s intention to denigrate Smith’s importance, but only to emphasize his place—and therefore the place of humanity in general—in the economy of creation. The English Roman Catholic G.K. Chesterton, who served as a significant source of inspiration to Tolkien when he was a young man, once wrote that “[h]e not only felt freer when he bent; he actually felt taller when he bowed.”[6] Likewise, Tolkien shows in “Smith of Wootton Major” that it is an understanding of the transcendent that allows Smith to fully become a man. This was a teaching to which Tolkien ascribed his entire life. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Princess Alice of Battenberg

From Harper's Bazaar:
Born in 1885 at Windsor Castle, and growing up in the UK, the German Empire, and Greece, Alice was at odds with her royal status, preferring to live without a title and focus her time and efforts on her religion and charity work. Alice, who was born deaf, married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark in 1903, and when Philip was around 10 years old, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent to a hospital where she was treated by Sigmund Freud.

She had become deeply religious and converted to the Greek Orthodox Church, proclaiming to be receiving divine messages and have healing powers. Freud claimed her so-called delusions spurred from sexual frustration, and recommended she undergo x-rays of her ovaries in order to stave off her libido, and induce an early menopause.

Princess Alice pleaded her sanity, and tried to leave the sanatorium countless times, before eventually being released in in the mid-30s. Meanwhile, Philip was separated from his four older sisters, Margarita, Theodora, Cecilie and Sophie, and was sent to live in England with his uncles, Lord Louis Mountbatten and George Mountbatten, and his grandmother, the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven. After convalescing, Princess Alice ensconced herself in an itinerant existence, travelling around Europe incognito. Tragedy struck the family again in 1937, when her daughter Cecilie, who was 26, son-in-law Georg Donatus, and two of her grandchildren were killed in an air accident at Ostend. (Read more.)

More HERE. Share

Terror Attacks in France: A Culture of Denial

From The Gatestone Institute:
On October 3, 2019, a knife-wielding Muslim employee of the Paris Police Department Intelligence Directorate stabbed to death four other employees at police headquarters in the center of Paris, before a trainee police officer shot and killed him. While it was not the deadliest terror attack France has experienced in recent years, the fatal stabbings that took place at the Paris police headquarters were perhaps the most worrisome. Its author (a French public servant employed by the police), its highly sensitive target, and the catastrophic handling of the aftermath of the attack reveal the failure of the French institutions. 
As it was the case for all recent terror attacks, French media and authorities first tried to downplay what happened. The attacker was initially described through potentially mitigating factors, such as his handicap (the killer is partly deaf and mute). It took 24 hours before it was eventually revealed that he was an Islamist militant who had carefully planned his attack. 
That a radicalized militant had been able to remain undetected in a critical security institution for years sent shockwaves throughout the country. Members of the parliamentary opposition asked for the resignation of Home Affairs Minister Christophe Castaner, who at first had said that the attacker "had never shown any warning signs or behavioral difficulties." 
For the record, this "very normal behavior" included cutting down to a bare minimum communication with women (he had for months being avoiding all women but his wife), attending a notoriously radical mosque, and having a phone full of Islamist contacts. His colleagues reported that already in January 2015, he had cheered the murderous Islamist terror attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in front of other police employees. In many countries, a mistake of this scale would be enough for a government minister to resign, but not in France. (Read more.)
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When Family Dinners Are Silent

From Return to Order:
Stagnant and sterile silence dominates so many households. This is the conclusion of a recent survey in the U.K. about family habits there. These same bad habits are quite present in America, probably in similar proportions. They can also be found in differing degrees all over our globalized world. One particularly tragic finding of this survey of 2,500 U.K. citizens is that a third of the families sit in complete silence during meal times. A further three in ten respondents report they have problems finding topics for dinner conversation.

Of course, there is also the problem of getting people to eat together in the same place at meals. About four in ten parents generally do not have meals together with their children at the same time. Ten percent of the respondents say they never have meals together as a family. (Read more.)

The death of fine dining. Also from Return to Order:
 Eating in front of screens has gone on for years. When television first entered the home in the fifties, people ate as they watched their favorite shows. They served factory-prepared frozen meals called T.V. dinners on T.V. trays. The Swanson company even pictured its offerings in a frame that simulated the cabinet of a television.

Today, the survey notes that forty-nine percent of Americans say that they regularly watch television while eating. On the other hand, average Americans only eats three meals per week at their kitchen tables. Twenty-two percent of Americans zombie-eat lunch in front of their office computers. “Zombie eating is something most of us can relate to – we’re busy, we’re productive, and we’re constantly on the move,” says Pretzel Crisps’ Senior Brand Manager Syreeta Norwood.

A surprising amount of research is available about social eating patterns. Food plays a huge role in social life.  In the 1995 book, Food and Nutrition, P. Fieldhouse says that “food is a vehicle for expressing friendship, for smoothing social intercourse, for showing concern. It is also ridden with status symbolism and is manipulated, subtly or blatantly, to demonstrate differences in social standing. There might almost be a dictum which says where two or more people gather together then let there be food and drink.”

Eating in groups, especially families, is healthier than zombie eating. Christie Wilcox, a contributor to Nutrition Wonderland, cites statistics in the United Kingdom. She points out that “married women with children are the healthiest group of people, followed closely by married men.” She adds that “the mortality rate for single men between 30 and 59 is 2.5 times higher than their married counterparts.”

Living alone is a major cause of zombie eating. More Americans live alone than ever. USA Today reported that U.S. Census Bureau figures from 2010 show that “The sheer number of Americans living alone has more than tripled since 1970 to 33.2 million.” More than one household out of four is occupied by only a single person. (Read more.)
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Monday, October 21, 2019

Blessed Karl: “Poor in Spirit”


From Blessed Karl of Austria:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) 
Blessed Karl was a king who viewed himself as a servant of his people. He did not view himself as an entitled “royal” or as someone who deserved to be given special treatment. He did not isolate himself from his subjects. Instead, Karl was a self-sacrificing man who recognized his kingship as a form of public service to others. Truly, Blessed Karl was a remarkable example of the heroic attribute Jesus described on the Sermon on the Mount as “poor in spirit.”
Karl went out of his way to meet others around him, no matter who they were, to learn of ways he could help their situation. He treated everyone with kindness. Karl did not surround himself with fashionable celebrities or fans of royalty; he did not cut himself off from common people and shrug off the problems of society around him. Unlike other rulers, Karl personally visited and interacted with ordinary people in his country—no matter who they were, what status they lacked or what religion or ethnicity they belonged to. Karl was humble and interested in improving the lives of others around him. His unpretentious approach became especially apparent during World War I. Karl committed himself to personally interacting with all levels of society during the war in order to address their needs—he appeared in so many places at such short notice that people gave him the nickname, “Karl the Sudden.”  
Karl actively practiced charity. Since his youth, he was dedicated to almsgiving and assisting the underprivileged. During World War I, Karl was determined that he and his family should equally share the burdens faced by impoverished Austrian citizens. He denied himself any extra comforts or extra provisions during the war. He gave away his personal belongings, including his clothing, to people in need. Other kings might have demanded more special treatment during this hard time. Not Karl. Even his methods of transportation were simple. While constantly traveling to the frontlines and visiting citizens in far-off places, Karl traveled with his family on ordinary troop transport trains instead of luxury accommodation. Karl stands as an example of courage and humility to all of us. His openhearted and undemanding behavior, especially during times of hardship and distress, is worthy not only of praise but of imitation in our own lives. Blessed Karl was a living witness of Jesus’s words in Chapter 20 of Matthew’s Gospel: “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” In the same Gospel chapter, Jesus also said the unforgettable words: “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Read more.)
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