Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Global Struggle

From The American Thinker:
The socialist idea had been kicking around since the 18th century.  This seemingly plausible notion shaped the various Marxist evils of the 20th century.  The Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Nazism, Fascism, and today’s imperious European Union, are all socialist tyrannies of one degree or another. Bureaucratic agencies become ideal tools for tyrants.  A tyrant can point his agencies in a particular direction and unleash them.  They immediately glory in their new power.  Horrors ensue.  Nazi Germany gave us the Holocaust and war.  Stalin used betrayal.  Friends betrayed friends.  Children spied on parents.  During the Soviet show trials of the 1930’s Stalin’s innocent victims were forced to falsely confess in order to save the lives of their families.  Fear reigns. (Read more.)

History of Eggnog

From The Regency Redingote:
Most food scholars agree that eggnog has its roots in medieval Britain, in a drink known then as a posset, which is also believed to be the ancestor of that classic sweet and frothy dessert, the syllabub. A posset was a hot beverage made with milk, usually curdled with ale or wine to thicken it, then spiced and sweetened. It is believed that sometime later, monks, and then others living in rural areas, added whipped eggs to their version of the drink. Some were also said to have tossed in a few figs as well. By the seventeenth century, possets became most popular among the upper classes, since they were better able to afford the costs of eggs, milk and fortified wines like sherry or brandy, which had become the preferred alcoholic ingredients. In some areas, cream was also added to the mixture. These drinks were considered healthful and were often made up as a kind of punch which was served at social gatherings. These milk, egg and alcohol drinks eventually became popular as beverages with which to toast the good health and prosperity of one’s family and friends, especially during holiday celebrations in the colder months. These beverages were also known by many who went to America. In the colonies, where many had farms where eggs and milk were plentiful, these egg, milk and spirit drinks were also enjoyed during the colder months, though the colonists tended to use less costly spirits to spike their eggnog. 
There is, of course, the question of the origin of the name for this beverage and there are various theories. One is that the nog portion of the word came from a noggin, that is, a wooden cup in which spiritous beverages had been served for centuries. Another is that the name originated in the American colonies, where the egg and milk mixture was blended with rum, known commonly as grog. The concatenation of the words egg and grog were thus believed to have resulted in the name eggnog. That term was certainly in use in the American colonies since at least 1775, and referred to a beverage made of eggs, milk and rum. However, the Oxford English Dictionary states that the beverage got the second half of its name from a very strong ale brewed for generations in the region of East Anglia, particularly in Norfolk. Known as nog, this drink was often served warm, usually heated by placing a hot poker in the mug which held it. Though the term eggnog was in use in the American colonies from at least 1775, the OED does not show that it was used, in print, in Britain until the mid-1820s. Which does not preclude its use there in common speech for decades before that date. (Read more.)

Monday, December 30, 2019

Cranberries & Clementines

From Victoria:
A match made for the holidays, the scarlet berry known for its delightfully tart character finds its complement in the tangy citrus of a favorite offering from the Mandarin-orange family. This pairing features in dishes from sweet to savory, bringing brilliant color and flavor to festive occasions. The Clementine French 75 substitutes freshly squeezed clementine for the customary lemon juice—an exotic twist for the robust cocktail. Cranberry and Clementine Mulled Wine fills the home with the fragrance of warming spices and the cup with comfort. (Read more.)

The Ecstasy of the Mob

In his review of the 1946 French film Panique, critic Bilge Ebiri observes that mob behavior is often not an expression of panic, but of a “monstrous ecstasy.” Mobs are driven by a religious fervor that provides a high. Mob rage is a blissful drug. This is evident in the new Clint Eastwood film Richard Jewell. The movie tells the story of Richard Jewell, who was working security in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1996 when he discovered a backpack containing a bomb and alerted law enforcement. The bomb exploded, and soon after the FBI and the media decided that Jewell was the main suspect. Jewell was completely exonerated later, when Eric Rudolph was found to have been the bomber. In 2006, Governor Sonny Perdue publicly thanked Jewell on behalf of the state of Georgia for saving those at the Olympics. Jewell died of heart failure on August 29, 2007, at age 44. 
In a remarkable recent Washington Post piece, CNN producer Henry Schuster, who helped hype the Jewell story in 1996, offers an apology to Jewell. “Writing an apology is not something journalists are used to doing,” Schuster notes.

It took me years just to open a document and type those few words. But with the release of “Richard Jewell,” Clint Eastwood’s new movie about the aftermath of the 1996 bombing in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, those of us who reported the story are doing a fresh round of soul-searching. No one emerged from the coverage with glory, although Jewell certainly deserved to.

Schuster recalls how after the FBI declared Jewell a suspect, the media was off and running: “The Atlanta paper reported it, we ran it over and over as breaking news, and those thousands of reporters covering the Olympics had their lead. By the next day, Jewell was notorious worldwide. (Now, with social media, a reputation can be destroyed in nanoseconds.)” 
Even before the Internet age, fallen and imperfect human beings were prone to outbursts of dangerous hysteria. Years before Eastwood’s Richard Jewell we had the great film Panique, recently rereleased in a beautiful new Criterion Collection edition. Mobs are fueled, notes Ebiri, by a “gleeful hysteria”—the “cruel madness of rumor, fear and spite. . . . It’s almost like these people want to wallow in their hatred, that the collective hatred and malevolence revealed in the final act is welcome. Their eyes glow with giddy delight at being able to torment and hound the other.” Joker has been called a mirror of our times, but Panique provides a more accurate reflection. (Read more.)

Chocolate As Money

From Science:
Chocolate didn’t pop up much in the earliest art, Baron found, but it became more prevalent by the 8th century C.E. That’s also around the time people seem to be using it as money—that is, an item widely accepted as payment for goods or services rather than a one-off barter. The Maya usually consumed their cacao as a hot drink, a steamy broth served in a clay cup. One of the earliest depictions of it used in exchange dates to the mid-7th century. In a painted mural displayed in a pyramid that may have been a central marketplace near the Guatemalan border, a woman offers a bowl of what looks like frothing hot chocolate to a man in return for dough used for making tamales. This early depiction suggests that although chocolate was being bartered at this point, it may not have been traded as a form of currency, Baron says.

But later evidence shows that chocolate became a little more like coins—in the form of fermented and dried cacao beans. Baron documented about 180 different scenes on ceramics and murals from about 691 C.E. through 900 C.E. which show commodities delivered to Maya leaders as a tribute, or a kind of tax. Goods like tobacco and maize grain are sometimes given as tribute, but the items that pop up most in these scenes are pieces of woven cloth and bags labeled with the quantity of dried cacao beans they contain, she reports in Economic Anthropology. Baron believes the fact that Maya kings collected cacao and woven cloth as tax shows that both had become a currency at this point. “They are collecting way more cacao than the palace actually consumes,” she says, adding that the surplus was probably used to pay palace workers or to buy things at the marketplace. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Le Grand Contrôle

Opening for business in the spring! From LTM:
Airelles is offering a ‘first-look’ at the eagerly-awaited Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle which is set to open its doors in spring 2020. Tipped to be The hotel opening of next year, Le Grand Contrôle will mark the fourth property for the prestigious hotel collection which comprises Les Airelles in Courchevel, La Bastide in Gordes and, as of next month, Mademoiselle in Val d’Isere.
Set within the grounds of the iconic Château de Versailles with views over the Orangerie, the Pièce d’Eau des Suisses and The Palace, Le Grand Contrôle will be the only hotel of its kind in the world, featuring 14 luxurious rooms and suites, a signature Alain Ducasse restaurant with terrace, bar, restorative spa by Valmont and a 15 metre indoor swimming pool. Guests will be able to retrace the footsteps of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette unencumbered, with exclusive experiences in The Palace and grounds.

As was customary at the time, the larger suites will be located on the lower floors, including a 120 m2 signature Suite, complete with four poster bed, striking chandelier, spacious bathroom with views onto the Orangerie garden and a generous living area. Also on the first floor, will be The Grand Salon providing an inspiring place to relax, read a book or simply take in the majestic 18th century surroundings. (Read more.)
More HERE.

To the Center of Time

From The Catholic Herald:
Christmas Day stands in the centre of all time. The moment when eternity enters time is the moment when time reaches its fullness. The world is opened up to divine grace from within by God now dwelling in it. The children of God are born anew. Christ’s humble and powerful light penetrates the hearts of all believers who communicate with the Bread of Life offered on the Eucharistic table of the mystical Bethlehem, the Church, the true “house of the bread”. Not a region in the world, not a single heart, is excluded from the invitation of divine Love. Communion with God is the horizon of life.

On Christmas Day, beginning at midnight – which is why a Midnight Mass should ideally not be celebrated before this symbolic hour – the Church offers Mass three times. In a wonderful exchange, Christ comes to us on the altar from the heights of the Father who sent Him into the world, and Christ reaches to the Father from the depths of our humanity which He made fully His own. At midnight, at dawn, in the day, Christ’s mystery shines. Christ sanctifies all times and all places by His presence. He opens the riches of God’s Mercy to all hearts. There cannot be an apter expression of gratitude than the threefold offering of Eucharistic thanksgiving which Mother Church presents us with on Christmas Day. (Read more.)

Myths of the Unicorn

From The Jerusalem Post:
It may be that the confusion surrounding the re’em and its identification with the unicorn first appeared due to a translation issue: Ancient translations of the Bible into Greek (the Septuagint) and Latin (the Vulgate) interpreted the Hebrew word re’em as ‘unicorn’ (monoceros / unicornis). The re’em is mentioned in many verses in the Bible; it was associated with virtues of strength and power; it is also one of the symbols of the Tribe of Ephraim. Some Hebrew sources, however, have suggested that the Tahash mentioned in the Bible, often translated as “badger”, was in fact the unicorn we have in mind. 
Yet it could be that the link between the re’em and the mythical unicorn is based on actual sightings. The Holy Land was always a desired destination for pilgrims and tourists who came to walk the paths traveled by Jesus of Nazareth. Some of the travelers, among them various monks and artists, described their arduous journeys in vivid detail, including accounts of the region’s geography, as well as its flora and fauna. Some of these accounts, primarily from the early modern period, contain depictions, occasionally illustrated, of a mysterious unicorn. (Read more.)

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Richard III Angel

From Buckingham Today: 
An extremely rare Richard III gold coin that was found by a metal detectorist in Buckingham in September is to be kept in town after £40,000 was raised to ensure it stayed here. The Richard III half angel gold coin was found by detectorist David Bethell at a location within a one mile radius of the town centre in September. There are only seven known examples of the coin in the world and none are on permanent public display. A campaign was launched back in October with the aim of keeping the historic find within the town. The Old Gaol team had until the end of this year to raise £40,000 and although some of the money came from grants, a local interest in keeping hold of the coin needed to be demonstrated first.

Matt Parker, a trustee at the Old Gaol, who was involved in the campaign to keep the find here said: “We needed to raise £40,000 and I am delighted that residents and businesses answered our call through donations and pledges.

“We are delighted with the community interest – we have had lots of support from businesses and pledges from as far away as Australia.

“I cannot give the exact breakdown, but a very substantial amount of what we have raised has come from local fundraisers. (Read more.)

Abortion Has Decimated The Black Community

From Life News:
Owens, the president of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) and co-author of “A Dream Derailed: How the Left Hijacked Civil Rights to Create a Permanent Underclass,” spoke with Breitbart News about abortion, politics and their impact on African Americans.
Abortion has “decimated the black community and is in opposition to our faith,” Owens said. “But the left supports unlimited abortion policies that have led to black babies being aborted more than any other group.” He slammed left-wing activists for taking over the Democratic Party and pushing a pro-abortion agenda. “It’s no mystery why black voters are leaving the far-left’s agenda,” Owens said. “The black church has long been the center of the black community. But leftists are now actively trying to push Christians out of the public square. When they’re not trying to silence us, they’re mocking us or our values.”
Millions of black voices have been silenced through abortion. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, an estimated 20 million unborn black babies have been aborted in America. Though abortions hurt families of every race and culture, statistics indicate that abortions disproportionately hurt the African American community. Census data indicates that African Americans make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, but they have nearly 40 percent of all abortions. And New York City health statistics indicate that more African American babies are aborted in the city than are born each year. (Read more.)

Ancient Breastfeeding

From Ancient Origins:
Historians down the ages have examined the ebb and flow of populations in ancient societies. But most of these examinations have tended to focus on male dominated events – the wars, the politics, and the money. But there is another side to the past that struggles to be heard over the clashing of swords. It is this unreported history that our new research focuses on.

My colleagues and I at Bournemouth University and the University of Warsaw used advanced chemical techniques to study breastfeeding in some of the world’s early cities in ancient parts of Syria and Lebanon. We analyzed small pieces of bone from infants, children, and mothers interred in ancient Bronze Age cemeteries between 2800 and 1200 BC by using a technique known as stable isotopes analysis . From this we built computer models that estimated the age of weaning (the introduction of complementary foods to a breastfeeding child’s diet) and complete weaning (stopping breastfeeding entirely) in these populations.

Our research found that women seem to have exclusively breastfed their children until about the age of six months and completely stopped around the age of two and a half – earlier than was common elsewhere at this point in history. These earlier weaning times may have helped boost the population of these cities , which became flourishing centers of civilization . (Read more.)

Friday, December 27, 2019

Jesus Was Not a Socialist

From The Washington Examiner:
The claim that Jesus Christ was a socialist has become a popular refrain among liberals, even from some whose Christianity is lukewarm at best. But is there any truth in it? That question cannot be answered without a reliable definition of socialism. A century ago, it was widely regarded as government ownership of the means of production. Jesus never once even hinted at that concept, let alone endorsed it. Yet the definition has changed over time. When the critiques of economists such as Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and Milton Friedman demolished any intellectual case for the original form of socialism, and reality proved them to be devastatingly right, socialists shifted to another version: central planning of the economy.

One can scour the New Testament and find nary a word from Jesus that calls for empowering politicians or bureaucrats to allocate resources, pick winners and losers, tell entrepreneurs how to run their businesses, impose minimum wages or maximum prices, compel workers to join unions, or even to raise taxes. When the Pharisees attempted to trick Jesus of Nazareth into endorsing tax evasion, he cleverly allowed others to decide what properly belongs to the State by responding, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s.”

Nonetheless, one of the charges that led to Jesus’s crucifixion was indeed tax evasion. With the reputation of central planners in the dumpster worldwide, socialists have largely moved on to a different emphasis: the welfare state. The socialism of Bernie Sanders and his young ally Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is that of the benevolent, egalitarian, nanny state where rich Peter is robbed to pay poor Paul. It’s characterized by lots of “free stuff” from the government — which of course isn’t free at all. It’s quite expensive both in terms of the bureaucratic brokerage fees and the demoralizing dependency it produces among its beneficiaries. Is this what Jesus had in mind? (Read more.)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Document Signed by Robert the Bruce

From The Scotsman:
An original document signed 700 years ago by Robert the Bruce which granted a Scottish city powerful rights in return for its loyalty to the King of Scot is to go on show. Written in Latin, the Stocket Charter was addressed to the “burgesses and community of our burgh of Aberdeen” by Robert the Bruce on 10 December 1319 and is one of the pivotal documents in the city’s history. As a reward for its loyalty, the burgh received several grants from Robert the Bruce, including custody of the forest of Stocket. The reward of power culminated in the Stocket Charter which gave all revenues from the burgh courts, market tolls and fishing to the burgesses in perpetuity, in return for an annual payment of £213 6s 8d. (Read more.)

The Return of the Maxwells

For those wondering about Jeffrey Epstein's consort Ghislaine Maxwell and her aristocratic connections, it is all in the archives of the Tatler. From the Tatler in 2000:
To analyze all the Maxwells’ new businesses and deals would require pages of geek-speak, but even explaining their motives isn’t that simple. Sure, the money comes into it, and the buzz of the deal, but what else? The the trade money press comes has called Christine 'one of the two most powerful women on the lnternet. Her father was more interested in power than money – are the children the same?

Christine is very grand in her response. She quotes Jung, ‘power is the privilege to influence’ – and declares: ‘It’s an unbelievable responsibility to have influence over issues that can have an impact on millions of people's lives and livelihoods.' Wearing her ISOC hat, she adds: 'When one has worked in the Internet for a long time, when one has a wants to give something back. My drive has to do with helping people, so that they can help themselves.' Meanwhile, Ghislaine is half-reflective, half-joking. claiming that her frantic activity, always changing business, provides her with both ‘a refuge’ and ‘something to talk about to my brothers and sisters’. And Betty says: ‘It’s better that they work like this than get into trouble.’ (Read more.)

From the Tatler, last August:
Epstein and Ghislaine’s unusual relationship went through various phases – at first, they were supposedly romantically linked (which fizzled out) but the two remained unquestionably close (as all the photography suggests – Ghislaine never more than an arms length away, simmering, lurking in the background). Epstein once even described Ghislaine as his ‘best friend’. With her address book, she became his facilitator, making the connections that wealthy Epstein sought – trips to Sandringham as the Duke of York’s guests and regularly jetting to private birthday parties aboard Epstein’s jets and to Little St James, his island off the coast of St Thomas. (An island reportedly dubbed the ‘Island of Sin’ and ‘Orgy Island’ by locals, according to The Independent). It’s thought that Ghislaine’s role evolved to become something of a ‘lady of the house’ – running his properties, ingoings and outgoings and various ‘errands’.
It’s now thought that the relationship had a more sordid side – an unproven thought, but still one that shows no sign of abating. Court documents state that it is ‘an undisputed fact that multiple witnesses’ have testified that Miss Maxwell operated as Epstein’s ‘procurer of underage girls’ for his elusive massages – a claim that she fiercely denies. Virginia Giuffre, a woman who claims to have served as Epstein’s teenage ‘sex slave’ leads the charge. It’s a tangled web that gets increasingly complicated as more information is brought to the table.
It’s now that Epstein has gone that Ghislaine faces the world’s glare as desire for justice for the alleged victims mounts. She quietly disappeared from the party circuit in 2016 and had been running TerraMar, a non-profit environmental organisation, even addressing the UN on ocean matters – until, it was announced last week, that the charily would cease operation.
Now – it’s suggested that she’s been living under the radar with a boyfriend, fourteen years her junior, inside a $3M oceanfront mansion in Manchester-by-the-Sea, outside of Boston. The boyfriend in question is tech CEO Scott Borgerson. She reportedly hasn’t been seen in public for three years and hasn’t left the house amidst the new focus on the Epstein case. A source familiar with Ghislaine’s new life told The Daily Mail: ‘She’s become a real homebody; she rarely ventures out. She’s the antithesis of the woman who travelled extensively and partied constantly with Epstein.’ Ghislaine was ever-present in those photographs, always in attendance at those parties – but, now she is really needed, will she emerge and shine light on what actually went on? (Read more.)

The Debate of Finrod and Andreth

From LifeSite:
Nevertheless, it is striking to consider that some of the most profound pages Tolkien ever wrote about the central mystery of Christianity had to wait until 1993 to see the light of day, although Clyde Kilby, an English professor from Wheaton, had seen them already in 1966. In his profound philosophical and theological analysis of the works of JRR Tolkien, The Flame Imperishable: Tolkien, St. Thomas, and the Metaphysics of Faërie (Angelico Press, 2017), Jonathan McIntosh summarizes and quotes from this dialogue, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth (internal page numbers refer to volume 10 of the History of Middle-earth):
At one point in their conversation Andreth tells Finrod about a “rumour” reported amongst those Men of the “Old Hope” that one day “the One will himself enter into Arda, and heal Men and all the Marring [of the world] from the beginning to the end” (321). Andreth, who for her part does not believe the rumor of the Men of the Old Hope, since “all wisdom is against them,” raises the following, reasonable objection: “Eru is One, alone without peer, and He made Eä, and is beyond it; and the Valar are greater than we, but yet no nearer to His majesty.... How could Eru enter into the thing that He has made, and than which He is beyond measure greater? Can the singer enter into his tale or the designer into his picture?” (321–22). Finrod replies by reminding Andreth of the simultaneity of Eru’s immanence and transcendence, stating how Eru is in fact “already in it, as well as outside,” to which Andreth agrees but replies that the legend speaks rather of Eru “entering into Arda, and that is a thing wholly different.” When Andreth asks how this could be possible without the Earth — indeed, without created reality itself — being “shattered,” Finrod pleads ignorance, though he does not doubt that, should Eru purpose to accomplish it, “he would find a way,” but that, if “he were to enter in, He must still remain also as He is: the Author without.” … For Tolkien, Eru’s ability to be simultaneously immanent within while transcendent to his creation, as his metaphysics of eucatastrophe requires, is directly connected with a kind of Trinitarian complexity or distinction within Eru’s own being. (McIntosh, 69–70)
“How could Eru enter into the thing that He has made, and than which He is beyond measure greater? Can the singer enter into his tale or the designer into his picture?” The answer: “He would find a way.” (Read more.)

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas at Hillwood

 From Hillwood Museum:
The glamour and elegance of founder Marjorie Merriweather Post permeate the holiday decor that adorns the entire estate. While Post's love of luxury embellishes the trimmings, it is her role as an elegant public figure, astute business executive, deeply caring and generous humanitarian, and committed philanthropist that characterize the Christmas trees, each drawing inspiration from a theme explored in the new book.

The mansion entry hall highlights Marjorie Post's most important legacy: Hillwood, with its verdant gardens and sumptuous art collections. A florally festooned tree, featuring live orchids—Post's favorite flower—along with greenery and roses, evokes the beauty of Hillwood's landscaped gardens. An opulent tree celebrating Post's love of family decorates the French drawing room. Post surrounded herself with framed pictures of her family, as reflected in the tree's central adornment of black and white photographs. Soft pinks, glittering gold, and sparkling diamonds complement the room. In the pavilion, Post's generosity for the arts and education is on display. Her philanthropic support for causes such as the Washington Ballet and the National Symphony Orchestra are whimsically referenced in a tulle tree skirt and shining ornaments of musical instruments. A large tree in creams and golds inspired by Post's acts of service to others completes the dining room. Knitted decorations created by Hillwood staff, who followed in Post's footsteps as she knit socks for soldiers, are contrasted with ribbon ornaments that harken to awards Post received in acknowledgement of her "great selflessness. (Read more.)

More HERE. Share

Faith, Reason and the Virgin Birth

It is the ancient and constant teaching of the Church that Our Lady gave birth without loss of her virginity. In the words of Father Angelo:
In the Catholic view of things, faith and reason are mutually compatible, although through faith we are able to know things that we could not know by reason alone.  Hence, faith is both reasonable and transcends reason, just as grace builds on nature but also transcends it.  Reason shows us that what God has revealed is compatible with nature.  In other words, God is not arbitrary.  The natural law written in our hearts is confirmed by supernatural revelation not contradicted by it....

Among Catholics there is much confusion as to the precise meaning of the Virgin Birth.  It is not to be confused with the Virginal Conception of Our Lord.   The Church, from the earliest times, has articulated the Perpetual Virginity of Our Lady as pertaining to three distinct moments:  before the birth of Jesus (ante partum), during the birth of Jesus (in partu), and after birth of Jesus (post partum).  Virtually every time the magisterium has spoken on the subject, this threefold distinction is made.  This teaching is derived from the early fathers of the Church, who maintained, defended and made the teaching a universally held truth of the Catholic Church.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Mary's Davidic Ancestry

From Nobility:
 While commentators generally agree that the genealogy found at the beginning of the first Gospel is that of St. Joseph, Annius of Viterbo proposes the opinion, already alluded to by St. Augustine, that St. Luke’s genealogy gives the pedigree of Mary. The text of the third Gospel (3:23) may be explained so as to make Heli the father of Mary: “Jesus. . .being the son (as it was supposed of Joseph) of Heli”, or “Jesus. . .being the son of Joseph, as it was supposed, the son of Heli” (Lightfoot, Bengel, etc.), or again “Jesus. . .being as it was supposed the son of Joseph, who was [the son-in-law] of Heli” [3]. In these explanations the name of Mary is not mentioned explicitly, but it is implied; for Jesus is the Son of Heli through Mary.

Though few commentators adhere to this view of St. Luke’s genealogy, the name of Mary’s father, Heli, agrees with the name given to Our Lady’s father in a tradition founded upon the report of the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal Gospel which dates from the end of the second century. According to this document the parents of Mary are Joachim and Anna. Now, the name Joachim is only a variation of Heli or Eliachim, substituting one Divine name (Yahweh) for the other (Eli, Elohim). The tradition as to the parents of Mary, found in the Gospel of James, is reproduced by St. John Damascene [4], St. Gregory of Nyssa [5], St. Germanus of Constantinople [6], pseudo-Epiphanius [7], pseudo-Hilarius [8], and St. Fulbert of Chartres [9]. Some of these writers add that the birth of Mary was obtained by the fervent prayers of Joachim and Anna in their advanced age. As Joachim belonged to the royal family of David, so Anna is supposed to have been a descendant of the priestly family of Aaron; thus Christ the Eternal King and Priest sprang from both a royal and priestly family [10]. (Read more.)

Tips for Driving on Snowy Roads

From The Art of Manliness:
While busy airports tend to get all the attention around the holiday travel season, the highways and byways are actually far more trafficked. Of long-distance travelers — those going 50 miles or more — over 90% are getting to where they’re going by car. Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s are in fact the most heavily trafficked times of year on America’s roads.

While it’s wonderful that folks are traveling to spend time with friends and family, it’s also an unfortunate time of year to be on the roads in certain parts of the country. Icy streets and snowstorms can quickly change a pleasant drive with the family into a stressful and truly dangerous situation, especially if one isn’t familiar with winter driving tactics and practices; it’s a whole different game than driving on dry pavement.

So whether you’ll be passing through conditions on the way to Grandmother’s house that you don’t normally encounter in your home state, or you’ve recently moved to a snowy place and are getting the feel for driving in your first winter there, be sure to acquaint yourself with how to navigate this cold and slick season. Below I offer a primer on this subject, based on input from experts, as well 15 years of my own experience driving in wintry conditions in Minnesota, Iowa, and Colorado. (Read more.)

Ancient Celtic Shield Discovered

From Express:
Approximately 20 humans buried inside chariots have been found in the past 100 years or so, mostly in Yorkshire – but without horses. Paula Ware, the director of Map Archaeological Practice, which excavated the grave, said: “The magnitude and preservation of the Pocklington chariot burial has no British parallel, providing a greater insight into the Iron Age epoch.” The archaeologist called the shield an “incomparable” Iron Age find due to its “previously unknown design feature”.
She said the shield’s scalloped border “is not comparable to any other Iron Age finds across Europe, adding to its valuable uniqueness”. Ms Ware added: “The popular belief is that elaborate metal-faced shields were purely ceremonial, reflecting status, but not used in battle.

“Signs of repairs can also be seen, suggesting the shield was not only old but likely to have been well used.”

The Iron Age grave, the inhabitant of which is believed to have died between 320BC and 174BC, was first discovered at a building site in the market town in 2018. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

History of the Gloria

From Aleteia:
The initial words of the Gloria are straight from the Bible and part of an angelic hymn to God on that first Christmas night.
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. (Luke 2:14)
However, after that line everything else was composed separately. Who composed it? There is no known author, but it can be traced back all the way to the third century. According to Joseph A. Jungmann in The Mass of the Roman Rite, “The Gloria, like the Kyrie, was not created originally for the liturgy of the Mass. It is an heirloom from the treasure of ancient Church hymns, a precious remnant of a literature now almost buried but once certainly very rich.”

Jungmann goes on to explain how the additional lines of the Gloria were part of a “literature of songs … written in the early Church in imitation of the biblical lyrics, especially the Psalms.” Furthermore, these early hymns were called psalmi idiotici, “psalms by private persons” and were not written for any particular liturgical use. Whoever wrote it was likely thinking of only one thing: praising God. At first it was used in the East as a a morning hymn in the Little Hours of the Divine Office and later translated into Latin, according to tradition, by St. Hilary of Poitiers. Similarly it was initially used as a general hymn of thanksgiving and praise used outside of the main liturgical events.

Not surprisingly, one of the first instances of its use during the Mass was at the Mass of Christmas night, and then later it was added to Sundays and feasts of martyrs. As the centuries went by this particular hymn became more and more a central part of the Mass and was obligatory on certain days by the 5th century. (Read more.)

The Lost Tomb of Cardinal Wolsey

From The Tudor Travel Guide:
Leicester Abbey, also known as the Abbey of St Mary de Pratis (Abbey of the Meadows) was an Augustinian monastery situated just one kilometre north of the medieval city of Leicester. It was the largest and one of the most influential Augustinian Abbeys in England. The monastery complex occupied about 13 hectares of land. It was home to around 24 canons at the time of Wolsey’s visit; these were not monks, but priests who worked in the local parishes and who lived under the rule of St Augustine. The ‘Black Canons’ (as they were called because of their dark, outer garments), were ‘supervised’ by an abbot; in this case, Abbott Pescall. He was notorious for his religious laxity and financial incompetence and was already under the close scrutiny of the powers that be in London – but that’s another story! 
The entire compound was surrounded by a wall (which still survives). The main abbey church and conventual buildings were sited adjacent to the west bank of the River Soar, which meandered through the meadows in which the abbey had been built. The main outer gateway to the abbey compound, which Cavendish mentions in his account, was situated towards the middle of the northern section of the abbey’s perimeter wall. It remains the main entrance to the park today, but sadly, the gatehouse has gone (see image above).

A track led southwards to a second, inner gatehouse. Beyond that, a yard opened up directly outside the main west facade of the church and a range of conventual buildings, which ran directly southwards from the abbey church, forming the western range of the abbey’s cloisters. This range comprised the Abbot’s lodgings, the most splendid and luxurious accommodation in the abbey (see image below).

We know from Cavendish’s account that ‘they brought him [Wolsey] on his mule to the stairs foot of his chamber, and there he alighted, and Master Kingston then took him by the arm and led him up the stairs’. So, we know for sure that Wolsey was housed in a first-floor chamber. It is quite possible that the Abbot ceded his own lodgings to the Cardinal. However, we cannot be sure, for another possible contender might be the guest lodgings, located across a small courtyard, south of the cloister. (Read more.)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Importance of Catholic Community

In my own experience, something that has destroyed Catholic community is gossip and the shunning that stems from it. And the children suffer the most. From Church Militant:
It is no shocking revelation that people throughout the West (and in some Far Eastern countries like Japan) are demoralized and depressed. There is a (both legal and illegal) drug epidemic in the United States that has killed more people than the Vietnam War. The life expectancy of White Americans is declining for the first time in 100 years. Suicide is increasing at an alarming rate.

 There are many causes for these disturbing trends — the first and foremost being the loss of faith in the civilization that was once called Christendom. However, one of the principal causes of this demoralization and decline of the men and women of the West is the disintegration of community life and what could be called the "loss of the Shire."

As Susan Pinker writes in The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier (this is not an endorsement of her book!), the greatest single determining factor outside of income (and, one might add, a strong faith) in determining a person's happiness is being a member of a strong community.

This community, Pinker further argues, has two layers threaded through it. The first is a close network of those people on whom one can really rely. These are people who will help take care of someone if he or she is sick, or who will loan money to someone if he or she is in a pinch. These people usually include close family members as well as one's dearest friends. (Read more.)

Zora Neale Hurston’s Individualism

From The National Review:
Zora Neale Hurston didn’t want to be a black writer, at least not in the way that others insisted on it: “From what I had read and heard, Negroes were supposed to write about the Race Problem. I was and am thoroughly sick of the subject,” she wrote in her 1942 memoir, Dust Tracks on a Road. “My interest lies in what makes a man or a woman do such-and-such regardless of his color.”
If she sounds sort of like a conservative, that’s because she was one. The author of what is arguably the most celebrated novel by an African-American woman — Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937 — was a Republican who despised identity politics. “I am not tragically colored,” she wrote in 1928. “I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a low-down dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it.”

We’re still enjoying her company today. Although Hurston died in 1960, she hit No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list last year with Barracoon, based on her interviews in 1927 with an 86-year-old man who was the last living person to have been transported in slavery from Africa to the United States. And on January 14 HarperCollins will release Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick, a new collection of Hurston’s short stories, including eight “lost” tales that haven’t appeared in print since their original publication. 

Despite this, her academic champions are doing their best to ensure the new collection doesn’t get picked up by the Conservative Book Club. The introduction by editor Genevieve West deploys the Left’s favorite buzzwords, citing Hurston’s “intersectionality” and praising her for “interrogating the politics of gender and class.” Separately, Hurston biographer Valerie Boyd has maintained that “we don’t know how she would have responded” to modern political figures and their beliefs. (Read more.)

Friday, December 20, 2019

Christmas in the Time of William the Conqueror

From The Coffee Pot Book Club:
The ceremony was unusual; a blend of English and Norman rituals in an attempt to appease both sides. It took place at the Confessor’s grave and the words were read out both in English by Aeldred, Archbishop of York, and in French by Geoffrey, Bishop of Coutances. The ancient English rite of Saint Dunstan was enacted, but also a rite known to the Kings of France—the anointing of the king with the holy Chrism.

Since rebellion from the English was still a possibility, William had made sure the Abbey was ringed by a band of metal-clad Norman knights, watching for any trouble. And trouble came—although, as it happened, it was the over-suspicious knights who cause it. Not English rebels. As the crown about to be settled on William’s Chrism-slick brow, the attendees inside the church began giving out great shouts of acclaim for the new monarch. Their cries shook the vast stone dome, echoing between the pillars. To the Norman knights stationed outside, this shouting sounded like an out-and-out riot, an attack upon their lord from within the church. Without waiting to find out what was really happening, the Norman knights swarmed into the streets around the Abbey, putting the nearby houses to the torch. Flames leapt into the cold December air. (Read more.)

Impeachment Charade

From The New York Post:
It is said there are two things you should never watch being made: sausage and government budgets. Now we can add impeachment to the list of stomach-turning sights to avoid. The arcane rules, phony cordiality and debates over the second sentence in paragraph G of Point Six were bad enough, but the nausea meter hit the roof when Nancy Pelosi took the microphone. Wearing a funereal black dress, she stood next to a cardboard American flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I would have counted her more honest if she had pledged her allegiance to a Democratic donkey. As the leader of a party that has marinated its mind in unadulterated hatred of President Trump, Pelosi bears unique responsibility for this calamity. She could have stopped it. 
Indeed, for months she did. Soon after Democrats took the House in last year’s midterms, the asinine calls for impeaching Trump that began immediately following his 2016 election reached a level she could not ignore. Publicly and privately, Pelosi repeatedly and wisely said no, arguing it would tear America apart unless there was a bipartisan consensus. “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path,” she told the Washington Post in March. (Read more.)

From Townhall:
This isn’t about the rule of law. This is about hate. This is about nullifying the results of the 2016 election. While Democrats have wasted their majority trying to find ways to impeach Trump, the Republicans, and this administration have worked hard to get this economy back on track. Over three million new jobs created, bigger paychecks, record lows in unemployment across the board concerning women, African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos, consumer and small business confidence levels have reached their highest levels in years, and the trade deal between Canada and Mexico (USMCA) is making its final moves towards passage. The economy is doing well, but Democrats want to trash it. And that’s where we can see the end of this story here. (Read more.) 

Roman Secret Society Lodge Discovered in Pompeii

From Ancient Origins:
Details of the ancient floors found in the house of Pompeii have been published in a paper by Massimo Osanna, director of the Pompeii archaeological site, and Luisa Ferro and Giulio Magli, of the School of Architecture at the Politecnico of Milan. The Great Pompeii Project, an EU-backed initiative to restore the ancient Italian city, stated that a small section of the House of Orion had been excavated between 1892 and 1893, but the greater house was only discovered in December last year. And now, researchers believe their excavations have uncovered the first ever depiction of the “groma”, a clever measuring tool developed in ancient Egypt and later used by Greek then Roman land surveyors. 
The ancient images were created by the embellishment of cement paving stones within the house using small stones and tiles, and they are located on the pavements of the House of Orion in the ancient city of Pompeii. According to an article in The Daily Mail two mosaics represent Orion, the hunter in Greek mythology, and appear to reference the Roman agrimensores, (Roman ground surveyors and planners). 
One illustration features a representation of the ancient mathematical problem of squaring the circle, and circling the square, and it shows a square inscribed within a circle. This symbol, resembling a compass rose, is cut by two perpendicular lines and one of these falls in alignment with the longitudinal axis of the house. This square in a circle, the researchers propose would have been the first image visible to any visitor upon entering the house and may represent the duties of the agrimensores and their sacred measuring principles. (Read more.)

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Delicious & Warming Tonic Syrups

From a magnificent blog called Gather Victoria:
When dark, winter days challenge our bodies as well as our spirits, nothing makes a better remedy than old-fashioned tonic syrups. Time-tested & true, these potent preventatives and remedial healers call on the nourishing, medicinal powers of conifers, wild berries, tonic plants and adaptogenic herbs, honey and warming spices. And not only will they help fortify your body, bolster your immunity and strengthen your heart, they will even uplift your spirit! Plus they’re just darn delicious splashed into sparkling water and cocktails or drizzled on pancakes, oatmeal, yoghurt and ice cream. And if you’re already under the weather, take heart, served straight up by the teaspoon or mixed into hot tea, tonic syrups not only help soothe symptoms of colds and flu, coughs, congestion and sore throats, they make the medicine go down in the most delightful way! (Read more.)

Chip Roy Calls Out Congress

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas criticized his fellow lawmakers during debate over articles of impeachment Wednesday, pointing out the irony of Democrats’ supposedly renewed interest in the Constitution, while ignoring it daily. “Where is respect for the Constitution when the people’s House daily refuses to do its actual job while shredding federalism and limited government?” he asked.
While Republican and Democratic members spent the day on the floor of the House debating and lamenting the act of impeachment they are expected to vote on Wednesday evening, Roy listed a number of other issues both more pertinent and dire to Americans than impeachment, including: the national debt, taxpayer-funded abortion, unsecured borders, and health care. 
“Today in New York, a young mother will be coerced into abortion by taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood, while we allow the genocide of the unborn in the false name of choice,” he said. (Read more.)

From Townhall:
The floor speeches are still ongoing up on the Hill. President Donald Trump will be impeached by the House. House Democrats will fulfill their 2018 campaign promise to their base to impeach the president simply because he won the 2016 election. They tried to hide it. They tried to say this wasn’t their end goal. Of course, it was—it’s been on their minds since day one of the Trump White House. To suggest that Democrats are unhappy about today’s vote is nonsense. They’ve been lusting for this for the past three years.

Russian collusion, which was exposed as a myth, was going to be their main line of attack before then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report which torpedoed that narrative. They needed something else. It could be anything. When Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) took to the House floor to give her speech, she invoked how the chamber honors veterans daily and their devotion to service, urging the body to do the same when it comes to honoring their oaths and to defend the Constitution as Americans, not as Republicans or Democrats. That’s quite a call for unity, right? It’s also completely covered in crap. Tlaib’s remarks when she entered Congress in 2018 exposes this whole circus, the entire Democratic Party façade on impeachment. She declared that the new House Democratic majority was going to “impeach the motherf**ker.” I know it seems like several years ago, but there you go. This outburst and Rep. Al Green’s (D-TX) declaration that the Democrats have to impeach Trump in order to prevent his re-election reveal the Left's true intent. We’re impeaching a president because Democrats don’t like him; they hate him. None of the articles that are about to be voted on today meets constitutional standards. (Read more.) 


From Atlas Obscura:
On hot summer days, friends and families gathered at Indian cafes slurp down tall glasses of falooda using long, slender spoons. In any assemblage of this icy drink-meets-dessert, diners will find a tangle of rice vermicelli and basil seeds sitting in frosty, rose syrup–tinted milk. Pistachios, almonds, and ice cream often finish off the parfait, adding crunchy and creamy elements to the gooey, fragrant combination. As with many of the frozen hodgepodges made from locally-available goodies (see: Filipino halo-haloTaiwanese bao bing, and Colombian cholado), variations abound. Aside from rose syrup, flavors such as grape, orange, pineapple, and black currant are just a few of the other options found in cafes across the country.

Locals in Mumbai are often credited with the modern iteration of this signature sweet, but the creation is beloved by Indians all over the world. Today, falooda stalls selling plastic to-go containers line the country’s beaches, but many believe it descended from royalty. According to one food historian, a 17th-century Mughal emperor had a particular penchant for “faluda, a rich jelly-like drink made from the strainings of boiled wheat mixed with fruit juices and cream.” (Read more.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

FISA Court Slams FBI

From Zero Hedge:
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court slammed the FBI on Tuesday in a rare public statement over the agency's handling of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page's warrant application and subsequent renewals, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"In order to appreciate the seriousness of that misconduct and its implications, it is useful to understand certain procedural and substantive requirements that apply to the government's conduct of electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes," reads the statement.

The punchline: "The FBI's handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the OIG report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor" required by federal investigators, adding "The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable," wrote the court, which called the recent watchdog report from the DOJ's Inspector General "troubling." (Read more.)

From The Daily Wire:
 Rosemary Collyer, Presiding Judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), released a rare statement on Tuesday slamming the FBI’s misconduct in surveilling the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election which occurred under the leadership of disgraced former FBI Director James Comey. “This order responds to reports that personnel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provided false information to the National Security Division (NSD) of the Department of Justice, and withheld material information from NSD which was detrimental to the FBI’s case, in connection with four applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for authority to conduct electronic surveillance of a U.S. citizen named Carter W. Page,” Collyer wrote. “When FBI personnel mislead NSD in the ways described above, they equally mislead the FISC.”
Collyer explained in detail the process involved in obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application against a person suspected of being the agent of a foreign power, saying that it was necessary for people to understand the process in order to “appreciate the seriousness of that misconduct” that happened. (Read more.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

An Emerald Necklace

From Vogue:
It comes as a surprise then that the Queen unveiled a never-before-seen emerald and diamond necklace at the annual diplomatic reception held at Buckingham Palace this week. To accent her white gown and Vladimir tiara (the same tiara the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle was allegedly not allowed to wear to her royal wedding), the Queen made her appearance in a yet-unseen emerald and diamond drops necklace.

As per Peoplethe necklace in question, comprised of 10 emerald drops, bears a resemblance to the Greville emerald necklace belonging to the Queen’s mother. However its setting (specifically, the drop design of the emeralds) suggests that the Greville necklace may have either been reset, or that the Queen’s jewellery piece is entirely new.

Given the Queen paired the necklace with the Greville emerald and diamond drop earrings, it is likely the speculation that the jewellery piece is a revision of the original may indeed be true, though this has not been confirmed. The Queen’s bracelets however, have been identified as two Cartier Art Deco bracelets, these too featuring diamonds and emeralds.

As reported by People, the details and history of the Greville jewels are themselves mysterious, surrounded by an air of intrigue and hard to ascertain. A gift from Dame Margaret Greville (a patron of Cartier and Boucheron) to the late Queen Mother in 1942, it is believed that pieces in the collection (including the Greville emerald and diamond necklace) once belonged to Marie Antoinette and the Empress Josephine of France, imbuing the jewellery with an important royal and historical legacy. (Read more.)

A Scandal Of Historic Magnitude

From Zero Hedge:
Before evaluating the media component of this scandal, the FBI’s gross abuse of its power – its serial deceit – is so grave and manifest that it requires little effort to demonstrate it. In sum, the IG Report documents multiple instances in which the FBI – in order to convince a FISA court to allow it spy on former Trump campaign operative Carter Page during the 2016 election – manipulated documents, concealed crucial exonerating evidence, and touted what it knew were unreliable if not outright false claims.

If you don’t consider FBI lying, concealment of evidence, and manipulation of documents in order to spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of a presidential campaign to be a major scandal, what is? But none of this is aberrational: the FBI still has its headquarters in a building named after J. Edgar Hoover – who constantly blackmailed elected officials with dossiers and tried to blackmail Martin Luther King into killing himself – because that’s what these security state agencies are. They are out-of-control, virtually unlimited police state factions that lie, abuse their spying and law enforcement powers, and subvert democracy and civic and political freedoms as a matter of course.

In this case, no rational person should allow standard partisan bickering to distort or hide this severe FBI corruption. The IG Report leaves no doubt about it. It’s brimming with proof of FBI subterfuge and deceit, all in service of persuading a FISA court of something that was not true: that U.S. citizen and former Trump campaign official Carter Page was an agent of the Russian government and therefore needed to have his communications surveilled. (Read more.)

An apology to Carter Page. From The Hill:
Ultimately, special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion or conspiracy by Trump associates or the campaign with those Russians intervening in the election. However, Horowitz found that the FBI never had any real evidence against Page before beginning its investigation, codenamed Operation Crossfire Hurricane. Soon after the investigation was opened, it became clear that Page had been wrongly accused and was, in fact, working for the CIA, not the Russians. Page himself later said he was working with the CIA, yet the media not only dismissed his claim but was very openly dismissive while portraying him as a bumbling fool.

Horowitz found that FBI investigators and lawyers had determined that the allegations involving Page fell short of a case for probable cause to open a secret warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Those investigators were then told by the eventually fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to look at the Steele dossier, which was actually funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The Clinton campaign denied repeatedly that it funded the dossier but finally admitted doing so after being confronted by media with new information.

Despite warnings about the credibility of Steele and red flags over the unreliability of the dossier, Horowitz found that “FBI leadership” used the dossier to justify its application for a FISA warrant. Democratic members of Congress and a wide array of media outlets have long told the public that the dossier was just one part of the FISA application. That is false. Horowitz states that the dossier played the “central and essential role” in securing the secret surveillance of the Trump campaign, including four investigations with both electronic surveillance and undercover assets.

Early on, Horowitz found that an unnamed government agency, widely acknowledged to be the CIA, told the FBI that it was making a mistake about Page and that he was working for the agency as an “operational contact” in Moscow. Indeed, he was working as an asset for the CIA for years. While it was falsely reported that Page met with three suspicious individuals there, he had no contact with two of those individuals. More importantly, Page did the right thing and told American officials about being contacted by the third person, because he felt they should know.

It gets even worse. Throughout Operation Crossfire Hurricane, evidence continued to flow into the FBI that Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the infamous dossier, was unreliable and working against the election of Trump. Not only was he known to be trying to get this false information to the press, but evidence mounted that he misrepresented sources and stated false information. While it took long, someone at the Justice Department finally decided to act on the FISA matter regarding Page. The official in charge of FISA applications, Kevin Clinesmith, was told to ask the CIA again about whether Page had been working for the agency. He was again told that Page in fact was, yet Clinesmith allegedly changed the CIA response to describe Page as not working for it. He is now being criminally referred by Horowitz for falsifying that information. (Read more.)

Folklore, Faeries And The Brontë Novels

From Anne Brontë:
The Brontës might be seen as Yorkshire through and through, but they had double Celtic influences. Their father Patrick was Irish, and their mother Maria was Cornish (and of course they were then raised by their Cornish aunt Elizabeth after her untimely death). That’s a powerful combination, and it means they were exposed to myths and legends from an early age. It’s something that lovers of Brontë books can all be thankful for!

We know that faithful old parsonage servant Tabby Aykroyd regaled the children with the folklore of Pennine Yorkshire, including stories of changelings – faerie children who had been switched with a human child. This influence can clearly be seen in Emily Brontë’s Heathcliff – the child who appears out of nowhere, with no family background, and proceeds to wreak havoc in his new home.
It may seem strange then that although ‘changeling’ appears twice in ‘Wuthering Heights’ on neither occasion does it refer to Heathcliff. We see it applied to Linton on the eve of his wedding, forced upon him by Heathcliff: “‘Take you with her, pitiful changeling!’ I exclaimed. ‘You marry? Why, the man is mad! or he thinks us fools, every one.’”

We also see it applied to Catherine, or at least the ghost of her, after the narrator Lockwood has endured his night of torment in the box bed: “’And that minx, Catherine Linton, or Earnshaw, or however she was called—she must have been a changeling—wicked little soul! She told me she had been walking the earth these twenty years: a just punishment for her mortal transgressions, I’ve no doubt!’”

As we shall see, this is far from the only folklore in the tale, as Emily’s novel revels in it. In this most brilliant of novels we also see the clear Cornish influence, however, which must have come from her Aunt Branwell. Cornwall was a land steeped in lore and legend, although in 1824 the Cornish historian Samuel Drew was already bemoaning a change in attitudes:

“The age of piskays, like that of chivalry, is gone. There is, perhaps, at present hardly a house they are reputed to visit. They neither steal children, nor displace domestic articles. Even the fields and lanes which they formerly frequented seem to be nearly forsaken. Their music is rarely heard; and they appear to have forgotten to attend their ancient midnight dance. The diffusion of knowledge, by which the people have been enlightened during the last half century, has considerably reduced the numbers of piskays; and even the few that remain, are evidently preparing to take their departure.” 
Drew is talking metaphorically here, showing how increasing industrialisation in Cornwall was eroding old faiths in the little people of the land. It is not the piskays, or pixies as they are styled elsewhere, that are departing, but belief in them. Nevertheless, around the moors of Cornwall belief held on, and, as I found when I visited there last year, the Brontë motherland of Penzance remains a place where old customs are cherished and celebrated. (Read more.)

Monday, December 16, 2019

The King (2019)

Timothée Chalamet as King Henry V of England being anointed at his coronation
Lily-Rose Depp as Catherine of Valois
Sir John Falstaff: A king has no friends. Only followers and foe.~ from The King (2019)
[Warning: Contains Spoilers] The King combines Shakespeare's rendition of the 1415 Battle of Agincourt with some modern phraseology, with the writers playing fast and loose with the historical facts. Nevertheless, I found the movie enjoyable, especially in the portrayal of the fictional friendship between Prince Hal (Henry V) and the knight Falstaff. Falstaff tells Henry what he needs to hear in order to help him reform his dissolute life and become a leader of men. It shows once again how young men need the guidance of older men to be successful. Henry IV is depicted as weak and despised by his son, trying to remove Hal from the succession. I doubt that legally he could have done that to an invested Prince of Wales, although Henry IV had already ousted an anointed sovereign, Richard II. As for Henry's coronation, I wish it had been longer. It shows how the anointing of the monarch was similar to the sacrament of Holy Orders, bestowing authority and responsibility over the temporal realm of the Christian kingdom that was England.

From the Roger Ebert site:
David Michôd’s “The King,” [is] a smartly modern take on Shakespeare, loosely based on “Henriad.” It’s an expansive medieval picture that takes sophisticated liberties with the Bard’s work, expressly with an eye towards presenting history and its contemporary lessons in an accessible fashion to a new age group. And who can draw that crowd in better than young Chalamet with a most dedicated fan base? As the hard-partying, apathetic yet peace-oriented prince Hal who reluctantly becomes King Henry V of England in 1413, Chalamet manages to pull off something youthful and mature in equal measure, complete with a brooding gaze and a serious haircut.

But before he gets perplexed and devoured by his inherited power, and before the fabled Battle of Agincourt arrives, we naturally meet Prince Hal first. Sporting Chalamet’s famous, mid-parted locks, Hal unreservedly womanizes and boozes alongside his equally nonchalant friend and trusted mentor Falstaff (Joel Edgerton, also a co-writer with Michôd), a relegated knight now involved in small-time dealings in Eastcheap. The ruthless, war-mongering Henry IV (a severe and bad-tempered Ben Mendelsohn, aptly intimidating) is still in power, though it’s unclear for how much longer due to his failing health. The joint screenplay from Edgerton and Michôd sadly rushes through this bit, although not before we can take in the body count on a massive battlefield and get a shot of the unruly nobleman Hotspur (Tom Glynn-Carney), whom Hal would duel against later, on the royal road to become his father’s inevitable successor. It just happens in a mad rush—before we know it, Henry IV goes the way of all flesh and his beautiful boy halfheartedly comes of age under the weight of a shiny crown.

“The King” slashes through the heart of this hesitation, giving us a clear picture of a young person split between his newfound responsibilities and pacifist-leaning beliefs. Making this quiet, different version of Henry V his own interpretation (instead of, you know, a poor imitation of Sir Laurence Olivier’s definitive performance), Chalamet excels at emoting sharply through his eyes. When he has words to spare, it helps that the co-scribes had significantly (though respectfully) smoothened Shakespearean language for this side of the 21st Century. Would Hal just become his dad whom he once loathed (an eternally-relevant existential question at the center of many therapy sessions today)? Can he trust anyone? And what about that condescending ball sent by the Dauphin of France (a hilarious, scene-stealing Robert Pattinson)—should he really take offense like he’s advised to?
Also sidestepping a poorly attempted replication of the ultimate version of his character (Orson Welles in “Chimes at Midnight,” that is) Edgerton as a larger-than-life, irritable yet subtle Falstaff wisely reminds Hal the reality of his situation: “A king has no friends. Only foes and followers.” Case in point—growing into his throne with a series of dubious decisions, Hal does abandon his one true ally Falstaff for a while, making us sorely miss the gifted Australian actor with pronounced roots in Shakespeare and theater. (Read more.)

From The Lincolnite:
Above all, The King is a competent, thoroughly enjoyable coming-of-age historical tale, focusing on the evolution of the English King Henry V, from his sordid origins as the rebellious Prince Hal to his finest hour at the Battle of Agincourt. The film attempts to walk a fine line, purporting itself as an adaptation of both Shakespeare’s Henriad and the true events upon which the play was based in equal parts.

In reality, The King leans far more towards the former in terms of story, yet does away with the Shakespearean dialect in favour of an odd medley of modern and classical language. Ultimately, the film falls short on either side of the coin, being too outlandish to stand as a straight historical biopic, yet simultaneously is entirely too straight-laced and gritty to exist as a direct adaptation of Shakespeare à la Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V.

Despite its immediate shortcomings, the film holds up exceptionally well as a piece of entertainment. Timothée Chalamet plays the titular King Henry V, and despite the film’s tendency to match him against a rotating door of scene-stealing talent, he captures the nuances of his character flawlessly. His ability to jump from the debauched Prince Hal to the fearless warrior king of old without even a hint of contrivance is noteworthy of itself, and despite a few accent quibbles, his delivery of certain lines lifted directly from the source material are borderline iconic. His rapport with Ben Mendelsohn’s Henry IV, or lack thereof, is the driving force that carries the first third of the film, and it’s entirely due to the talent of the two actors that this succeeds. (Read more.)

While I loved the sets and costumes, they were on the bleak side. People forget that medieval people loved bright colors, and the nobles and royals were especially decked out in vibrant array. Even the cathedrals were painted and adorned, inside and out, in a way that modern folk might have found gaudy. Perhaps the grayness of the film was meant to convey the sufferings due to the Hundred Years War. As far as I could tell, Agincourt was pretty realistic, with the French knights becoming immobilized by the mud in their heavy plate armor, as the English longbows picked them off. By the way, the Dauphin character in the film is not St. Joan's Dauphin, the future Charles VII. It is his older brother Louis, Duc de Guyenne, who did die in 1415, the same year as Agincourt, although he was not at the battle. As for the future Charles VII, he was a small boy living with the family of his betrothed bride in a castle in Anjou. He and his older brother Jean, who also died young, were disinherited by the Treaty of Troyes, in which Henry V agreed to marry their sister Catherine and become the new heir to France. It would take the Maid to win back the crown for the rightful King of France. Meanwhile, The King ends on a note of promise, with the young couple gazing honestly and hopefully at each other.

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