Saturday, July 31, 2021

Capital Punishment as Entertainment in England, 1649-1868

 From Odeboyz's Blog:

The King’s head was held up to the crowd. The spectators, some who had watched in approval and some in dismay, were quickly dispersed by officials, but a few sought grisly souvenirs of the event rushing forward to dip their handkerchiefs into the royal blood, ‘by some as trophies of their villainy; by others as relics of a martyr. The execution of Charles the First 1649.

Tens of thousands of spectators saw the King’s head in the executioner’s hands and in the early 1660s they saw Regicides ‘hung, drawn and quartered’. This was very important in a revolutionary period as there had to be no ambiguity about the power of the state. Public execution served a legitimate purpose. Public executions over the next 200 hundred years lost legitimacy. Capital punishment was extended to 220 offences and executions acquired a circus like atmosphere. A depraved atmosphere. Public executions were frequent and well attended. They fell into disrepute in the Victorian era. Gory spectacles ceased to be entertaining. In 1868 they stopped altogether. Executions were held inside prisons until abolition in 1965.

Samuel Pepys attended both Charles’s execution and that of the Regicide Major-general Harrison. On both occasions he supported the execution. Pepys proved Cromwell’s aphorism true: “Do not trust to the cheering, for those persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged.*” His description of the execution of Harrison is famous:

“I went out to Charing Cross [London] to see Major-general Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down, and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there was great shouts of joy.*” Pepys’s career depended on applauding the brutal execution of Regicides. (Read more.) 

 

More about Tyburn, HERE.

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The ‘Woke Deep State’ Is No Laughing Matter

 From Candace Owens:

But this is really no laughing matter. The deep state’s commitment to “wokeness” is spilling over from how it staffs its ranks to how it does its job, and — make no mistake — if you’re not among those who think correctly, you could find yourself in their crosshairs. It’s a two-tiered system, where conservatives are approached with suspicion, and leftists are given liberal privilege.

If you are among those who think correctly, you won’t have to worry, even if your decisions result in the deaths of, perhaps, thousands of people.

Last week, the Department of Justice announced that they have no intention of continuing a probe into Governor Andrew Cuomo over an order he gave mandating that nursing homes accept recovering COVID-19 patients who were still contagious — an order that likely killed thousands. They’ve also dropped looking into Governor Gretchen Whitmer over in Michigan, saying that this is a topic they’re just not interested in exploring. (Read more.)


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The Blind Nun

 From Catholic News Agency:

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, a giant of 20th-century Catholicism, will be beatified on Sept. 12. But the Primate of Poland who heroically resisted communism is not the only figure who will be raised to the altars that day in Warsaw. Wyszyński will be beatified alongside a nun who is little known outside her native Poland: Mother Elżbieta Róża Czacka. How did Czacka, who died in 1961 after a lifetime of quiet service to blind people, come to share a beatification ceremony with Poland’s “Primate of the Millennium”?

To answer that question, CNA spoke with Sr. Angelica Jose, F.S.C., whose life was deeply influenced by the woman known to Poles as Matka Czacka (Mother Czacka). As a student, she came across a brochure produced by the religious congregation Czacka founded and was touched by a photo of Czacka with a blind boy.

“Being fascinated by the charism of the congregation -- service for the physically and spiritually blind -- I stopped my studies at Poznań University of Life Sciences and entered the congregation,” Sr. Angelica Jose recalled. She continued: “What delights me about Mother Czacka is her tremendous passion for life for God -- in service of the blind. Her courage in accepting suffering and realism in life. And her trust in God’s Providence.”

Róża Czacka was born on Oct. 22, 1876, in Bila Tserkva, a city once located in the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and known as Biała Cerkiew but situated today in central Ukraine. The sixth of seven children, she moved with her aristocratic family to Warsaw, where the young countess learned to play the piano, ride horses, and speak English, German, and French. Throughout her childhood, she suffered from eye problems. At the age of 22, she returned to the family’s estate in Ukraine for a summer vacation. While horse riding, she fell and was blinded. Her relatives struggled to accept her condition. (Read more.)


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Friday, July 30, 2021

Looking at 1630s English Fashions

From Sarah A. Bendall:

This woman wears a gown, falling lace band and also holds onto a fan. More interestingly though she appears to have a purse dangling from her waist. In the seventeenth century purses such as this were rarely used to actually carry money, as women such as the one depicted in this engraving rarely engaged in commercial exchanges that required cash. These purses could also contain mirrors (which is probably indicates what it was most commonly used for). They could also be used to carry around sewing materials or sweets, and other bits and pieces.

 Muffs in the seventeenth century, as they are now, were design to keep the wearer’s hands warm when outside. They are believed to have first come about in the sixteenth century, possibly originating from the fur trim that was common on the cuffs of a gown. Most muffs during this period appear to have been made from fur, although there are fabric muffs such as this one from the eighteenth century, so it is totally plausible that they were also made from fabric too. In my archival research on English royal wardrobes I’ve actually never come across a muff, well, in tailoring bills anyway. So I’m not sure exactly where they were sourced. Nor have I been able to find any extant seventeenth-century examples in museum collections. (Read more.)

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Trump Was Right, Biden Was Wrong

 From Gingrich 360:

On Jan. 12, former President Donald Trump visited the United States-Mexico border to thank the Departments of Homeland Security, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and other law enforcement officers for their work in helping to secure the border.  

Most importantly, President Trump said “In particular, if our border security measures are reversed, it will trigger a tidal wave of illegal immigration — a wave like you’ve never seen before… To terminate those policies is knowingly to put America in really serious danger and to override the great career experts that have worked so hard.” 

On Jan. 20, President Biden issued the Executive Order on the Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities. This executive order reversed President Trump’s Executive Order 13768 which “called for the prompt removal of all undocumented immigrants living in the United States and withdrew federal funding from so-called sanctuary states.” 

On the same day, President Biden issued the Proclamation on the Termination of Emergency with Respect to the Southern Border of the United States and Redirection of Funds Diverted to Border Wall Construction. This proclamation “halted construction of the wall along the US-Mexico border and stated that funds for border wall construction would be reallocated following a review of construction contracts.”  

The DHS also announced the suspension of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program. The MPP program, or the Remain in Mexico policy, allowed border officers to send non-Mexicans seeking asylum to holding facilities on the Mexico side of the border as they awaited their immigration hearings.  

President Biden also issued two more Executive Orders on Feb. 2. The first was The Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, which reversed President Trump’s “zero tolerance” Executive Order 13481.  

The second was the Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans. This order “revokes the Presidential Memorandum of May 23, 2019, which called for more stringent enforcement of immigration sponsorship requirements.” 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that there were 188,829 migrants encountered at the southern border in June. In May there were 180,034 encounters, and in January when Biden took office, there were 78,442.  

According to Fox News, “33,049 migrants were encountered in June 2020… in June 2019, when the border was in the midst of what was then a historic crisis at the border — 104,311 were encountered… June’s numbers also take the number of encounters in FY 2021 to more than 1 million, with three months left to go. That’s in comparison to just over 458,000 in all of FY 2020 and 977,509 in all of FY 2019.”  

Furthermore, “meth seizures away from ports of entry are also up 85 percent so far this fiscal year. Fentanyl and meth seizures at the ports of entry are also up, 719 percent and 781 percent, respectively” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.  (Read more.)


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13,000 Years Ago

 From SciTechDaily:

A cluster of comet fragments believed to have hit Earth nearly 13,000 years ago may have shaped the origins of human civilization, research suggests. Possibly the most devastating cosmic impact since the extinction of the dinosaurs, it appears to coincide with major shifts in how human societies organized themselves, researchers say. Their analysis backs up claims that an impact occurred prior to start of the Neolithic period in the so-called Fertile Crescent of southwest Asia.

During that time, humans in the region — which spans parts of modern-day countries such as Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon — switched from hunter-gatherer lifestyles to ones centered on agriculture and the creation of permanent settlements. It is thought that the comet strike — known as the Younger Dryas impact — also wiped out many large animal species and ushered in a mini ice age that lasted more than 1,000 years. (Read more.)


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Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Unseen and Unnoticed Servants

 From Jane Austen's World:

Without much explanation, Austen’s contemporaries could easily gauge the number of servants that the Bertrams or the Woodhouses employed (at least 7-9 inside their grand houses and more in the fields and gardens) against the socially downward turn the Elliot family and Dashwood women experienced by the number of their reduced help, which in the latter instance was three. The Dashwood women were able to maintain some kind of social status within their unenviable income of £500 a year and with the help of a friendly (and very rich) Mrs. Jennings.

Mrs and Miss Bates employed a maid of all work to help them with their daily chores, although they were dependent on the kindness of their neighbors to help make ends meet. Fanny Price’s parents in Portsmouth engaged two housemaids, impoverished as they were, their poverty due no doubt to Mr. Price’s drinking and meager income, which needed to stretch to clothe and feed a family of 12. Only Mrs Smith, Anne Elliot’s old school friend, an impoverished widow, was too poor to “afford herself the comfort of a servant.” (Persuasion, Chapter 16.) She lived in public accommodations in Bath, whose landlady employed only one servant for her lodgers.

Austen’s descriptions of her characters reveal much about the way they treated their help. Imagine having to work under Mrs. Norris’s direction or Mrs. Elton’s! Those two exacting women, neither of whom possessed an ounce of compassion, set the most stringent standards, yet still found time to complain about their staff’s performances.

Compare their attitude to Colonel Brandon’s, who treated underlings with respect and caring, or Mr. Darcy, whose housekeeper’s admiration for her master helped change Elizabeth’s opinion of the man she rejected for being too proud, distant, and arrogant. 

Austen’s oblique descriptions of other characters’ interactions with their servants – Mr. Woodhouse (Emma’s father), for example – causes the reader to contemplate poor James’s situation as his coachman. James was asked to ferry guests like Mrs and Miss Bates back and forth, regardless of time or weather, which was considered a terrible imposition by Austen’s contemporaries. Mr. Woodhouse’s cook, who probably failed to satisfy her employer’s exacting standards for boiling an egg or making gruel, must have suffered silently through his passive aggressive sighs of disappointment for not achieving perfection. 

Then there is Sir Walter Elliot, whose ego was twelve sizes larger than his income, and whose ability to employ the help he was accustomed to was reduced to such a degree that his daughter Elizabeth chose not to invite the Musgroves to dinner, but only to an evening get-together where the lack of servants would not be so obvious. Sir Walter’s major sin in the eyes of Austen’s contemporaries was to squander his fortune to such an extent that he had to rent out his estate and downsize to a mere townhouse in Bath. (Read more.)


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Soros and the Minneapolis Police Force

 From Just the News:

The Minneapolis City Council voted 12-1 on Friday to push a petition drive to replace Minneapolis' police force with a department of public safety onto the November ballot.

The proposal asks voters if they want to approve a plan to replace the police department with a new public safety department focused on a "comprehensive public safety approach" that would include police officers "if necessary to fulfill the department's responsibilities."

A new political committee calling itself Yes 4 Minneapolis gathered 20,000 petition signatures to place a question on the ballot to amend the city's charter. In February, The Reformer reported the group is fueled by a single $500,000 donation from progressive activist billionaire George Soros' Open Society Policy Center, citing campaign finance documents.

The plan would eliminate the charter's minimum number of police and remove the mayor's "complete power" over the department.

The plan's advancement follows a June court order for the 435,000-person town to hire more police since it's currently violating its charter by understaffing police after many quit or claimed disability after the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson's writ of mandamus ordered Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey to "immediately take any and all necessary action to ensure that they fund a police force" of at least 730 sworn officers, or more if required by the 2020 Census to be published later this year, by June 30, 2022.

The writ of mandamus follows a year after the Minneapolis city council unanimously passed a resolution intending to disband the police force and create a new public safety model in response to George Floyd's death in police custody.

Meanwhile, violent crime surged in the city. Carjackings increased 537% year-to-date in November 2020. More than 550 people were wounded by gunfire in 2020, exceeding a 100% increase over 2019, Minnesota Public Radio reported, while people shot more than 24,000 bullets in Minneapolis in 2020.

(Read more.)


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Unicorn Bones?

 From Live Science:

A German cave once famous for its "unicorn bones" during medieval times is home to a far-rarer non-mythical treasure: a piece of symbolic artwork created by Neanderthals, a new study finds. 

The artwork, a chevron design, was carved into the toe bone of the now-extinct giant deer (Megaloceros giganteus), said the researchers. The team dated the bone to 51,000 years ago, a time when Homo sapiens hadn't yet ventured into the region, suggesting that the Neanderthals had carved the bone on their own, without influence or help from anatomically modern humans, the researchers wrote in the study, published online Monday (July 5) in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The symbolic artwork suggests Neanderthals had a greater cognitive capacity than previously thought. 

"Neanderthals were very smart," study lead researcher Dirk Leder, an archaeologist at the State Service for Cultural Heritage Lower Saxony in Hanover, Germany, told Live Science. "They were able to communicate and express themselves by symbols. They were probably cognitively very similar to us as a human species." (Read more.)


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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Basque Cake


From BBC:

The rounds of raw dough, now shiny from a brush of egg wash, are loaded onto wooden planks and carried to the brick oven. These 150 traditional shortbread cakes – called Gâteau Basque – are the bakery's pride and joy.

Gâteau Basque has become an emblem of the French Basque Country, a region known for fierce cultural pride. Like the trendy burnt Basque cheesecake that hails from the nearby Spanish coast, the popularity of the Gâteau Basque lies in its elegant simplicity and a recent interest by international visitors looking to sample a decidedly regional treat.

While the exact origins of the recipe are unclear, legend has it that a Basque woman named Marianne Hirigoyen is to thank for the modern version of the cake. Originally from a thermal village called Cambo-les-Bains, Hirigoyen began to make and sell her Gâteau Basque in the market of Bayonne sometime around the 1830s. Over the next century, the cake remained a traditional dessert eaten after Sunday dinners as each household's recipe was passed down from one generation to the next. (Read more.)

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Pelosi: Abuse of Power

 From the New York Post:

Nancy Pelosi used to point her angry finger at Donald Trump, but she leaves him in the dust when it comes to busting norms, dividing Congress and causing mayhem. If anyone is to blame for the hyper-partisanship in Washington these days, it’s the spiteful House speaker. 

She behaves more like a Mafia don waging a gang war than a dignified, fair and honest presiding officer, which is what the speaker’s role requires. 

Pelosi abuses her power in ways that once were unthinkable. Her speakership has been the antithesis of Lincoln’s entreaty to “the better angels of our nature.” Everyone in Congress — and, by extension, the nation — has been sullied by the spite and vitriol she has injected into the political sphere. There is no grace or Christian charity, just the barren wasteland of the zero-sum game, power for power’s sake. 

It’s made all the worse by her increasingly frantic claims to be a “devout Catholic.” 

The fact that all this venom is packaged in the shape of a small, elderly, expensively shod woman has bestowed upon her an element of deference her actions do not deserve. But last week there were a couple of signs that she’s finally worn out her welcome.  (Read more.)


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Clouds on Mars

 From SciTechDaily:

This year, they were ready to start documenting these “early” clouds from the moment they first appeared in late January. What resulted are images of wispy puffs filled with ice crystals that scattered light from the setting Sun, some of them shimmering with color. More than just spectacular displays, such images help scientists understand how clouds form on Mars and why these recent ones are different.

In fact, Curiosity’s team has already made one new discovery: The early-arrival clouds are actually at higher altitudes than is typical. Most Martian clouds hover no more than about 37 miles (60 kilometers) in the sky and are composed of water ice. But the clouds Curiosity has imaged are at a higher altitude, where it’s very cold, indicating that they are likely made of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice. Scientists look for subtle clues to establish a cloud’s altitude, and it will take more analysis to say for sure which of Curiosity’s recent images show water-ice clouds and which show dry-ice ones. (Read more.)


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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Mass in a Connemara Cabin

How my ancestors went to Mass.


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Loaves, Fish, and Shepherds

 From Father Paul Scalia:

Ecclesial authority is ordered to the handing on of what Christ has given. The twofold temptation for shepherds has always been either to neglect their genuine authority or to abuse it for selfish gain. Or both. As this scene indicates, they are to be ministers, not masters, of Christ’s grace and truth. Theirs is but to do and disappear.

Then comes the final, somewhat curious, command: “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” It seems superfluous. Surely, the One Who multiplies loaves and fish need not concern Himself with leftovers. Of course, He gives the command not for His own benefit but for theirs – and ours.

It is an apostolic duty to gather up what Christ has given – so that it can be handed down to others. This is the grave obligation the Shepherds have to Tradition. They have authority precisely so that they can gather up and hand down the Church’s liturgical and doctrinal patrimony. Failure to do so detaches their authority from Tradition and thus distorts it. Without the content of the Tradition, without a reference to generations past and future, authority becomes just an exercise of power here and now. It leads to a magisterial positivism that values Church authority, not because of its service to what was received and should be handed on, but simply because it has the power to compel.

Such an exchange of authority for positivism traps the faithful in a particular moment of time. It makes them prisoners of the present, temporal orphans with no tradition to receive and, therefore, nothing to hand on to future generations. This dangerous situation makes the faithful prey to whatever new ideas or, more likely, ideologies come along. With no Tradition in which they can stand and by which they can discern, they fall easily into error. (Read more.)


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Kingdoms of the Visigoths

 From Archaeology:

However, recent archaeological work in Iberia, on the periphery of the former Roman Empire, conveys a different story. It is revealing how, against this backdrop of chaos, a people emerged who succeeded in founding perhaps the strongest kingdom in the post-Roman world. These were the Visigoths, who had first arrived in Iberia in the A.D. 410s, when Roman rule was crumbling. Over the next two centuries the Visigoths unified a politically fractured landscape, bringing a semblance of stability to a region racked by centuries of violence and uncertainty. They implemented new taxation and legal systems and reestablished trade with the broader Mediterranean world. The Visigoths also did the seemingly impossible—in a largely deurbanized world, they began to build cities. Written sources suggest that the Visigoths founded at least four new urban centers, but only one of them, Reccopolis, can be identified with certainty. It was one of the crowning achievements of King Leovigild (r. A.D. 568–586), perhaps the Visigoths’ greatest ruler. Today, Reccopolis is an unlikely example of a post-Roman urban settlement that arose amid the disorder and uncertainty of sixth-century Europe. “One does not see many new towns founded during this period elsewhere in the Mediterranean,” says McCormick. “It is quite surprising.”

 One Visigothic chronicler, John of Biclaro, records that Leovigild founded Reccopolis in A.D. 578 and furnished it with “splendid buildings.” Today, the remains of these buildings sit atop a plateau that rises above the banks of the Tagus River in the central Spanish province of Guadalajara. Although Reccopolis is less than a two-hour drive from Madrid, parts of this province have in recent years become some of the most desolate in all of Europe due to financial crises and a dearth of economic opportunities for its rural population. However, 1,400 years ago, the opposite process was underway. The establishment of a Visigothic settlement in the region attracted throngs of people who settled within the new town and formed satellite communities in its vicinity. (Read more.)


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Monday, July 26, 2021

The Royal Hospital ‘Greate Peece’ – Van Dyck or not Van Dyck?

From JVDPPP:

Anthony Van Dyck was born in Antwerp in 1599 but is of course most closely associated with the doomed court of Charles I, from Van Dyck’s second stay in England from 1632 until his death in Blackfriars in 1641. A child prodigy and a genius, he is perhaps the greatest portrait painter that ever lived. When Thomas Gainsborough died in 1788, his last words were reportedly “We are all going to heaven and Van Dyck is of the party.”

With the exception of two small black and white sketches executed in England, one of which we will discuss later, Van Dyck painted on oak panels only whilst he was living on the continent. These were mainly religious subjects and some portraits, large and small. They included a number of Apostles, who were a very popular subject in counter-reformation Antwerp.

Their brilliance is that they are in fact portraits of living persons who served as studio models. And Van Dyck’s brilliance as a portrait painter was evident even in his teens. So popular were these paintings that they were seemingly endlessly copied by other artists and to date, we have seen and examined a tremendous number of Bearded Apostles. So, it’s a pleasure to be giving a talk today on something other than a bearded apostle. (Read more.)

 

From Country Life:

Charles II retrieved what he could following the Restoration but much of what was once Britain’s most important collection of art is now dispersed across the globe, forming the highlights of key museums all over the world. The Royal Academy has secured some impressive loans, including Titian’s The Emperor Charles V with a Dog, (Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid); Titian’s Supper at Emmaus and his Conjugal Allegory, (Musée du Louvre, Paris) as well as four Mortlake Tapestries designed from cartoons by Raphael and an array of other impressive works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. A jubilant rehanging of Mantegna’s monumental nine-part sequence, The Triumph of Caesar (usually at Hampton Court), occupies the largest of the galleries.

The piece we’re looking at here, however, comes from rather closer to home, having been among the paintings restored to the Royal collection.

By the time Anthony Van Dyck was appointed Court Painter to Charles I, in 1632, the King’s reputation as an art collector and patron was already widely recognised across Europe. Charles I and Henrietta Maria with Prince Charles and Princess Mary (‘The Great Peece‘) of 1632 was Van Dyck’s first major commission and showcases his skilful propaganda.

Charles I, who had rickets as a child, appears to have overcome his physical infirmity. He is depicted in this painting as having natural dynastic charm and regal power. (Read more.)


More HERE.


 

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The Panic Pandemic

 From City-Journal:

One in three people worldwide lost a job or a business during the lockdowns, and half saw their earnings drop, according to a Gallup poll. Children, never at risk from the virus, in many places essentially lost a year of school. The economic and health consequences were felt most acutely among the less affluent in America and in the rest of the world, where the World Bank estimates that more than 100 million have been pushed into extreme poverty.

The leaders responsible for these disasters continue to pretend that their policies worked and assume that they can keep fooling the public. They’ve promised to deploy these strategies again in the future, and they might even succeed in doing so—unless we begin to understand what went wrong.

The panic was started, as usual, by journalists. As the virus spread early last year, they highlighted the most alarming statistics and the scariest images: the estimates of a fatality rate ten to 50 times higher than the flu, the chaotic scenes at hospitals in Italy and New York City, the predictions that national health-care systems were about to collapse. The full-scale panic was set off by the release in March 2020 of a computer model at the Imperial College in London, which projected that—unless drastic measures were taken—intensive-care units would have 30 Covid patients for every available bed and that America would see 2.2 million deaths by the end of the summer. The British researchers announced that the “only viable strategy” was to impose draconian restrictions on businesses, schools, and social gatherings until a vaccine arrived.

This extraordinary project was swiftly declared the “consensus” among public-health officials, politicians, journalists, and academics. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, endorsed it and became the unassailable authority for those purporting to “follow the science.” What had originally been a limited lockdown—“15 days to slow the spread”—became long-term policy across much of the United States and the world. A few scientists and public-health experts objected, noting that an extended lockdown was a novel strategy of unknown effectiveness that had been rejected in previous plans for a pandemic. It was a dangerous experiment being conducted without knowing the answer to the most basic question: Just how lethal is this virus?

The most prominent early critic was John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Stanford, who published an essay for STAT headlined “A Fiasco in the Making? As the Coronavirus Pandemic Takes Hold, We Are Making Decisions Without Reliable Data.” While a short-term lockdown made sense, he argued, an extended lockdown could prove worse than the disease, and scientists needed to do more intensive testing to determine the risk. The article offered common-sense advice from one of the world’s most frequently cited authorities on the credibility of medical research, but it provoked a furious backlash on Twitter from scientists and journalists.

The fury intensified in April 2020, when Ioannidis followed his own advice by joining with Jay Bhattacharya and other colleagues from Stanford to gauge the spread of Covid in the surrounding area, Santa Clara County. After testing for Covid antibodies in the blood of several thousand volunteers, they estimated that the fatality rate among the infected in the county was about 0.2 percent, twice as high as for the flu but considerably lower than the assumptions of public-health officials and computer modelers. The researchers acknowledged that the fatality rate could be substantially higher in other places where the virus spread extensively in nursing homes (which hadn’t yet occurred in the Santa Clara area). But merely by reporting data that didn’t fit the official panic narrative, they became targets.

Other scientists lambasted the researchers and claimed that methodological weaknesses in the study made the results meaningless. A statistician at Columbia wrote that the researchers “owe us all an apology.” A biologist at the University of North Carolina said that the study was “horrible science.” A Rutgers chemist called Ioannidis a “mediocrity” who “cannot even formulate a simulacrum of a coherent, rational argument.” A year later, Ioannidis still marvels at the attacks on the study (which was eventually published in a leading epidemiology journal). “Scientists whom I respect started acting like warriors who had to subvert the enemy,” he says. “Every paper I’ve written has errors—I’m a scientist, not the pope—but the main conclusions of this one were correct and have withstood the criticism.”

Mainstream journalists piled on with hit pieces quoting critics and accusing the researchers of endangering lives by questioning lockdowns. The Nation called the research a “black mark” for Stanford. The cheapest shots came from BuzzFeed, which devoted thousands of words to a series of trivial objections and baseless accusations. The article that got the most attention was BuzzFeed’s breathless revelation that an airline executive opposed to lockdowns had contributed $5,000—yes, five thousand dollars!—to an anonymized fund at Stanford that had helped finance the Santa Clara fieldwork.

The notion that a team of prominent academics, who were not paid for their work in the study, would risk their reputations by skewing results for the sake of a $5,000 donation was absurd on its face—and even more ludicrous, given that Ioannidis, Bhattacharya, and the lead investigator, Eran Bendavid, said that they weren’t even aware of the donation while conducting the study. But Stanford University was so cowed by the online uproar that it subjected the researchers to a two-month fact-finding inquiry by an outside legal firm. The inquiry found no evidence of conflict of interest, but the smear campaign succeeded in sending a clear message to scientists everywhere: Don’t question the lockdown narrative. (Read more.)


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Jane Austen and Virtue

 From The Imaginative Conservative:

Since this lecture is a labor of love, I shall not scruple to enhance its legitimacy by adducing documentary proof that there exists an old tradition of offering transatlantic tributes to Jane Austen. In 1852, a female member of the distinguished Quincy family of Boston wrote as follows to one of Jane Austen’s naval brothers, Sir Francis Austen:

Since high critical authority has pronounced the delineations of character in the works of Jane Austen second only to those of Shakespeare, transatlantic admiration appears superfluous; yet it may not be uninteresting to her family to receive an assurance that the influence of her genius is extensively recognized in the American Republic, even by the highest judicial authorities. The late Chief Justice Marshall of the Supreme Court of the United States, and his associate Mr. Justice Story, highly estimated and admired Miss Austen, and to them we owe our introduction to her society.

Jane Austen would have loved this manifesto, and she would have declaimed it joyfully to her family. I am much afraid she would have done the same to this lecture.

II

The American letter is taken From the Memoir of Jane Austen, which was written in old age by her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh. Since he had actually known his aunt as a boy, his memoir is the leading account of her life, while its main source is the collection of letters she herself wrote to members of the family, particularly to her sister Cassandra. Cassandra Austen was the only person to whom Jane revealed the plots of her novels before publication, at least until late in her life, when her favorite niece Fanny Knight was inducted into that merry conspiracy. These writings and others have been woven into a tactful, perceptive and, therefore, profitable biography by Elizabeth Jenkins. Beyond that, the study of Jane Austen’s life is a pleasantly interminable but superfluous labor, because so much and yet so little is known.

This is what we do know: that she admitted no torments of the soul, was not afflicted with epileptic seizures, extruded no devils, committed not sins of the flesh, and undertook no expiations of the spirit (I mention these negative occurrences because they appear to have been of importance in the lives of other novelists). Instead, she confesses in a letter of Monday night, December 24, 1798, that “there were twenty dances and I danced them all.” On Wednesday, May 6, 1801, she writes:

Mrs. Mussell has got my gown, and I will endeavor to explain what her intentions are. It is to be a round gown, with a jacket and a frock front, like Cath. Bigg’s, to open at the side. The jacket is all in one body and comes as far as the pocket holes….

This description continues, too expertly for my comprehension, over a page.

The family griefs, on the other hand, are not dwelled on so extensively in her letters—they are to be borne with an effort to be “tranquil and resigned.” Nor does her novel-writing add much external incident to her life. She appeared on the title page of her novels merely as “a Lady” and preserved her anonymity as long as the proud London brother, who acted as her agent, would permit it. Not that she considered her writing a mere avocation—she repeatedly referred to a novel in progress as her child, her “darling child.” She simply shunned publicity, preferring with wicked glee to collect the candid reviews aired by unsuspecting neighbors. She steadfastly abstained from entering the literary circles of London and even refused an invitation to meet Madame de Stael. In the portentous sense of the word, she had no “Life.” (Read more.)


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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Viking Art

 From Art in Context:

Before we discuss Viking Art, it is useful to understand who these “Northmen” were. The term “Northmen” was used to designate the Norsemen, otherwise, the Norse people, who inhabited medieval Scandinavia, a collective of the Northern European countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

The Vikings were Norsemen and a group of seafaring “warriors” who invaded Europe and prominent areas like the British Isles – they also went as far as Russia and Canada in their conquests. It is important to understand that the Vikings were only a part of the whole of this Norse culture and there was more to them than the modern-day understanding of them as violent, barbaric “pirates”.

The term “Viking” has been given multiple meanings over the ages and a general understanding of its origins will provide better context. “Viking” has been used as a noun and verb in certain contexts. It is particularly defined as “pirate” and derives from the Old Norse word vikingr.

The word vikingr is also derived from the word vík meaning “inlet” or “bay” and the suffix –ingr connotes someone who “belongs to” – the meaning can loosely be given that it is someone of the bay, which is where the Vikings were perceived to come from when they crossed the seas to invade new lands. (Read more.)


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The Star that is Called Wormwood

 From the Abbeville Institute Press:

I lived for many years in a place that I was not from: New York City, a neighborhood known for brownstone townhouses built as “country retreats” for Gilded Agers. Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed the Biltmore’s gardens, also authored a nearby municipal park.  There were a lot of hipsters and 1968-vintage leftists. One childless couple – he a professor of education, she a social worker – owned the townhouse next to mine. They scowled when I told them I “did something in the bond market.” The professor, who in the evenings sat on his stoop sipping a craft beer from the neighborhood’s burgeoning array of craft beer retailers (police were once called to break up a fight over the difference between “winter” and “autumn” brews) always greeted me with “How much money did you make today?” in an exaggerated Southern accent. I answered him politely and, before he could escape, bored him senseless with the technical details of my day: triparty repo with the New York Fed, setting the spread for newly issued corporate debt with Treasury notes, arranging an MBS hedge with synthetic 5/10-year notes after an increase in prepay speeds. Eventually he came to tolerate me. I fed their aged cats and watered the marijuana plants in the upstairs bathroom when they split for weeks or months at their “country place” in, you guessed it, Asheville.

These expeditions were undertaken in a small Volvo sedan papered liberally with bumperstickers: COEXIST; YES WE CAN; OMG GOP WTF; WELL BEHAVED WOMEN RARELY MAKE HISTORY. My favorite was NO TEA PLEASE, I BELIEVE IN PROGRESS. This, of course, referenced the “Tea Party” movement that arose to bleat against Obama’s massive budgets in the first year of his presidency. It was quickly co-opted by the Republican Party and as quickly disappeared.

The bumpersticker amused in that it implied “Progress” is the sole proprietorship of the Democratic Party. Nothing could be further from the truth. Progress was the locomotive of the original Republican Party, forced down the nation’s throat and elevated to the status of an unassailable credo by the Republicans.  It is implicit and more often than not explicit in the Jaffaite “propositional nation” twaddle that Republicans still desperately market despite its embarrassing failure out in the real world. The Democrats were late to the party, so to speak. Despite their former pretended concern for the urban proletariat, and current pretended concern for People of Color, the Democrats are as fanatical for Progress as the GOP. The only difference between the two is who gets robbed to pay for it.

So what is this Progress? Let us turn to Gold and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World, authored by Walter Russell Mead and published in 2007. Mead, born in South Carolina, educated at Groton and Yale, is the “Global View Columnist” for the Wall Street Journal, Ravenel B. Curry III Distinguished Fellow in Strategy and Statesmanship at Hudson Institute and the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College in New York. Mr. Mead once served the Council on Foreign Relations as its Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy.

God and Gold explores the “meaning” of American power, Mead says. If you’re expecting a sober, mediation on the march of history and the fate of empires, look elsewhere. It’s certainly not a piece of historical investigation. It’s the sort of thing that might appear in a Davos or Bilderberg gift bag. Let’s imagine, instead, that fuming from getting hopelessly lost where Highway 19/23/240/28/74 splits into 240/74 and 19/23/28 on the right bank of the French Broad River,  you step into the Bhrarami Brewing Co., 101 South Lexington Avenue, Asheville, NC (“creative lead” Gary Sernack “started home brewing in San Francisco”; “founder/executive chef” Josh Dillard once slung the hash at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago “and believes in community, locality and our environment”) to curse Asheville and your miserable fate. At the bar, a merry Falstaffian character, bearded and chunky, cheeks ruddy from five or more $6.00 pints of Your Zeros Look Like Sevens (Berliner Weisse with watermelon, cucumber, Meyer lemon, juniper and sea salt), strikes up a conversation. Is he going to bitch about the Tourists? No, your new friend Walter R. Mead – “call me Walt,” let’s pretend — is going to unburden himself of Deep Profundities. (Read more.)


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What Is Daydreaming?

 From Neuroscience:

However, scientists estimate we spend up to half our waking lives thinking about something other than the task at hand: our minds are wandering. This is striking considering the potential negative consequences, from decreased school or work performance to tragic traffic accidents.

We also know that mind-wandering and lapses of attention are more common when we are sleep-deprived, which suggests they may happen when the neurons in our brain start behaving in a way that resembles sleep. We tested the relationship between sleep and lapses of attention in new research published in Nature Communications. By monitoring people’s brainwaves against their self-reported states of attention, we found that mind-wandering seems to happen when parts of the brain fall asleep while most of it remains awake. (Read more.)


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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Tradition: Handing Down, Not Holding Back

 From Daniel Mitsui:

I cannot define beauty as a theologian or a philosopher, because I am neither. I am an artist, and an artist concerns himself less with rules in the abstract than with the question of what works and what does not.

I also want to be very clear that I make no claim whatsoever to speak for the entire Catholic tradition. I have come to realize that the theology of beauty that I embrace is specific; it is indebted to Dionysius, the author of The Celestial Hierarchy and The Divine Names, and to the exegetical works of Augustine and other church fathers. These Dionysian and Augustinian influences were brought together in the 12th century, by Hugh of St. Victor, Suger of St. Denis, Hildegard of Bingen, and some others.

This theology of beauty is not the only one proposed in the history of Catholic religious art; there are celebrated thinkers and canonized saints who disagree with it. In its time, it was resisted by Bernard of Clairvaux. It is far, far apart from the mind of someone like Pius X. I nonetheless am convinced that Hugh and Suger and Hildegard were right, because their understanding of religious art and music led to so extraordinary a flourishing of both. All Gothic art and architecture, and most of western art music, follow in some way from their insight.

Hildegard perhaps said it best in her epistle to the prelates of Mainz:

Adam lost that angelic voice which he had in Paradise, for he fell asleep to that knowledge which he possessed before his sin, just as a person on waking up only dimly remembers what he had seen in his dreams.... God, however, restores the souls of the elect to that pristine blessedness by infusing them with the light of truth so that they might, by means of His interior illumination, regain some of that knowledge which Adam had before he was punished for his sin.

And so the holy prophets, inspired by the Spirit which they had received, were called for this purpose: not only to compose psalms and canticles (by which the hearts of listeners would be inflamed) but also to construct various kinds of musical instruments to enhance these songs of praise with melodic strains. Thereby, both through the form and quality of the instruments, as well as through the meaning of the words that accompany them, those who hear might be taught about inward things, since they have been admonished and aroused by outward things. In such a way, these holy prophets get beyond the music of this exile and recall to mind that divine melody of praise which Adam, in company with the angels, enjoyed in God before his fall.

Hildegard speaks here of music, but the lesson here can be applied, I think, to all forms of art. The recognition of beauty is, essentially, a nostalgia for Eden, a vague memory of blessedness that was not entirely destroyed in the fall. Beautiful music and art are means to elevate the heart and mind toward that blessedness; in this way, beauty is like virtue. (Read more.)


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A Cry From the Heart

People have asked me what I think of the new Motu Proprio. Frankly, it does not impact me directly since I do not have access to the Traditional Latin Mass, anyway. I am glad to see that many bishops are continuing the Latin Mass in their dioceses. One result of the Motu Proprio is to draw attention to the "Extraordinary Form" of the Latin Mass, which is why I think it will ultimately backfire. Instead of killing the old mass it will make it more popular.
 
I have to be honest. Some of the meanest, most evil people I have ever met have been traditionalist Catholics, or at least, they saw themselves as traditionalists. There are some people who use the traditional liturgy as a club and a means of feeling superior. There are among them people who have caused me and my family a great deal of suffering. However, among the sincere prayerful friends who love tradition are some of the holiest people I have ever known.
 
By the way, Vatican II never said anything about getting rid of Latin, as is made clear by Sacrosanctum Concilium.

From Cardinal Mueller at The Catholic Thing:

In his “Letter to the Bishops of the Whole World,” which accompanies the motu proprio, Pope Francis tries to explain the motives that have caused him, as the bearer of the supreme authority of the Church, to limit the liturgy in the extraordinary form. Beyond the presentation of his subjective reactions, however, a stringent and logically comprehensible theological argumentation would also have been appropriate. For papal authority does not consist in superficially demanding from the faithful mere obedience, i.e., a formal submission of the will, but, much more essentially, in enabling the faithful also to be convinced with consent of the mind. As St. Paul, courteous towards his often quite unruly Corinthians, said, “in the church I would rather speak five words with my mind, so as to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in tongues.” (1 Cor 14:19)

This dichotomy between good intention and poor execution always arises where the objections of competent employees are perceived as an obstruction of their superiors’ intentions, and which are, therefore, not even offered. As welcome as the references to Vatican II may be, care must be taken to ensure that the Council’s statements are used precisely and in context. The quotation from St. Augustine about membership in the Church “according to the body” and “according to the heart” (Lumen Gentium 14) refers to the full Church membership of the Catholic faith. It consists in the visible incorporation into the body of Christ (creedal, sacramental, ecclesiastical-hierarchical communion) as well as in the union of the heart, i.e. in the Holy Spirit. What this means, however, is not obedience to the pope and the bishops in the discipline of the sacraments, but sanctifying grace, which fully involves us in the invisible Church as communion with the Triune God.

For the unity in the confession of the revealed faith and the celebration of the mysteries of grace in the seven sacraments by no means require sterile uniformity in the external liturgical form, as if the Church were like one of the international hotel chains with their homogenous design. The unity of believers with one another is rooted in unity in God through faith, hope, and love and has nothing to do with uniformity in appearance, the lockstep of a military formation, or the groupthink of the big-tech age.

Even after the Council of Trent, there always was a certain diversity (musical, celebratory, regional) in the liturgical organization of Masses. The intention of Pope Pius V was not to suppress the variety of rites, but rather to curb the abuses that had led to a devastating lack of understanding among the Protestant Reformers regarding the substance of the sacrifice of the Mass (its Sacrificial character and Real Presence). In the Missal of Paul VI, ritualistic (rubricist) homogenization is broken up, precisely in order to overcome a mechanical execution in favor of an inner and outer active participation of all believers in their respective languages and cultures. The unity of the Latin rite, however, should be preserved through the same basic liturgical structure and the precise orientation of the translations to the Latin original.

The Roman Church must not pass on its responsibility for unity in cult to the Bishops’ Conferences. Rome must oversee translation of the normative texts of the Missal of Paul VI, and even of the biblical texts, that might obscure the contents of the faith. Presumptions that one may “improve” the verba domini (e.g. pro multis – “for many” – at the consecration, the et ne nos inducas in tentationem – “and lead us not into temptation” – in the Our Father), contradict the truth of the faith and the unity of the Church much more than celebrating Mass according to the Missal of John XXIII.

The key to a Catholic understanding of the liturgy lies in the insight that the substance of the sacraments is given to the Church as a visible sign and means of the invisible grace by virtue of divine law, but that it is up to the Apostolic See and, in accordance with the law, to the bishops to order the external form of the liturgy (insofar as it has not already existed since apostolic times). (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22 § 1)

The provisions of Traditionis Custodes are of a disciplinary, not dogmatic nature and can be modified again by any future pope. Naturally, the pope, in his concern for the unity of the Church in the revealed faith, is to be fully supported when the celebration of Holy Mass according to the Missal of 1962 is an expression of resistance to the authority of Vatican II, which is to say, when the doctrine of the faith and the Church’s ethics are relativized or even denied in the liturgical and pastoral order. (Read more.)

 

 From Monsignor Charles Pope:

While people on both “sides” may have preferences, even strong preferences, there has been mutual respect and a willingness to make room for one another. Whatever tensions do exist, they are minor and not so different than the tensions that emerge from the diverse mosaic of ethnic communities.

In this diocese Mass is celebrated in dozens of languages. Some of our Eastern Rite liturgies are also celebrated in our Roman Rite parish churches. We also have one parish that hosts the Anglican liturgical tradition and nearly a dozen who host the Neocatechumenal Way liturgy with all its adaptations. Somehow, we all make room for one another and deal with the logistical challenges well enough. 

Apparently, Pope Francis does not see this rich and peaceful diversity when it comes to the Traditional Latin Mass. Instead, he writes to the world’s bishops in his cover letter that he sees something very different: 

“An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.” (Read more.)

 

From The New Liturgical Movement:

People who take the time to sit down and study Sacrosanctum Concilium are often struck by how much of this document is unknown, ignored, or contradicted by contemporary Catholic practice. Often, there are phrases that are so rich, and yet the manner in which they have been turned into slogans has undermined their original nuance and depth.

The most notorious victim of this process of journalistic simplification has been the notion of “active participation” or participatio actuosa. The word actuosa itself is very interesting: it means fully or totally engaged in activity, like a dancer or an actor who is putting everything into the dancing or the acting; it might be considered "super-active." But what is the notion of activity here? It is actualizing one's full potential, entering into possession of a good rather than having an unrealized capacity for it. In contemporary English, "active" often means simply the contrary of passive or receptive, yet in a deeper perspective, we see that these are by no means contrary. I can be actively receptive to the Word of God; I can be fully actualizing my ability to be acted upon at Mass by the chants, prayers, and ceremonies, without my doing much of anything that would be styled “active” in contemporary English.[Note 1] As St. John Paul II explained in an address to U.S. bishops in 1998:

Active participation certainly means that, in gesture, word, song and service, all the members of the community take part in an act of worship, which is anything but inert or passive. Yet active participation does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness and listening: indeed, it demands it. Worshippers are not passive, for instance, when listening to the readings or the homily, or following the prayers of the celebrant, and the chants and music of the liturgy. These are experiences of silence and stillness, but they are in their own way profoundly active. In a culture which neither favors nor fosters meditative quiet, the art of interior listening is learned only with difficulty. Here we see how the liturgy, though it must always be properly inculturated, must also be counter-cultural. [link]
If your choir or schola sings Proper chants or motets at Mass, or if you’d like to see this happen someday, make sure you have this text from John Paul II ready for the person who objects: “But the people need to be singing everything!” Dom Alcuin Reid explained the Council’s intention very succinctly in an interview last December:
The Council called for participatio actuosa, which is primarily our internal connection with the liturgical action—with what Jesus Christ is doing in his Church in the liturgical rites. This participation is about where my mind and heart are. Our external actions in the liturgy serve and facilitate this. But participatio actuosa is not first and foremost external activity, or performing a particular liturgical ministry. That, unfortunately, has been a common misconception of the Council’s desire. [link]
Now, even with the common misunderstanding of “actual” cleared out of the way, it is an extremely curious fact that the full expression from Sacrosanctum Concilium 14 is rarely quoted: “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy” (in the original: "Valde cupit Mater Ecclesia ut fideles universi ad plenam illam, consciam atque actuosam liturgicarum celebrationum participationem ducantur, quae ab ipsius Liturgiae natura postulatur"). Whatever happened to “full” and “conscious”? (Read more.)

 

From The Pillar:

Harder to measure is the number of diocesan priests who celebrate the Extraordinary Form. Eighty-eight percent of the Extraordinary Form Mass venues listed in the directory are churches not maintained by one of the fraternities or orders dedicated exclusively to it. It seems reasonable to conclude that most of the Masses offered in the Extraordinary Form in the U.S. are celebrated by diocesan clergy. 

The data suggests these are not mostly older priests who retain an attachment to the form of the Mass offered in their youth: A priest would need to be at least 76 to have offered the Extraordinary Form of the Mass before the promulgation of the Ordinary Form in 1970.

Some diocesan seminaries in the U.S. have received enough requests from their students to begin offering liturgical training in the Extraordinary Form.

The United Kingdom has around 2,400 active Catholic parish churches of which 157 (or 6.5%) offer the Extraordinary Form. France is harder to estimate, because it has around 45,000 church buildings which are legally owned by the state.

But given that it has only 7,000 priests under age 75, we might roughly estimate the 199 Extraordinary Form Masses listed in France in the directory as representing between 1.5% and 3% of Masses available. (Read more.)


From Dr. Janet Smith at The National Catholic Register:

In Traditionis Custodes (Guardians of the Tradition), the motu proprio that sets out provisions for curtailing the availability of the Mass based on the 1962 Missal promulgated by Pope St. John XXIII (here referred to as the traditional Latin Mass), Pope Francis states that his decisions are based on consultations with bishops worldwide (the results of which have never been made public). 

Thanks be to God, most of the U.S. bishops who have issued a statement about the motu proprio have granted permission for the status quo to continue as they study the issue. I hope their study primarily involves hearing from the priests who host a traditional Latin Mass at their parishes. What the bishops learn, I believe, will convince them that the traditional Latin Mass is making an enormous contribution to the faith of their flock and the strength of the parish and, thus, should continue.

Ever since Pope Benedict XVI announced in Summorum Pontificum that the traditional Latin Mass had never been abrogated and can never be abrogated and stated that priests who are approached by groups of the faithful who want it  may offer it without seeking permission from the bishop, there has been an amazing renaissance of the traditional Latin Mass. 

Orders such as the Institute of Christ the King the Sovereign Priest that exist to offer and promote it  have been burgeoning at the seams; the parish in Detroit keeps adding more Masses to accommodate those who wish to attend. Parishes that offer the traditional Latin Mass have found that young families flock to the Mass, contribute generously to the parish, and become powerful forces for spreading the Gospel. (Read more.)

 

More HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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What Happened to Peanut Butter and Jelly?

 From JSTOR Daily:

There was a time when peanut butter and jelly, spread generously on two simple slices of bread, was a quintessential American meal. But sometimes a great rise can also mean a great fall. And the mighty PB&J has fallen. By the twenty-first century, historian Steve Estes writes, “the PB&J had gone from a symbol of doting mothers and idyllic childhood to a marker of negligent parenting and unhealthy kids.” What took the sandwich from iconic to outdated?

The PB&J was at its peak in the second half of the twentieth century. This was due to a few factors, Estes argues. Because you could take it anywhere, it was a bridge between public and private life: “The sandwich symbolized ‘home,’ but it was just as often eaten outside of the house” on picnics, camping trips, and school cafeterias. It also connected generations—both adults and kids enjoyed it. Lastly, it bridged economic gaps as “a staple of the working class and much of the country during times of economic hardship…. [A]ll classes of Americans munched on PB&Js.” (Read more.)


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Friday, July 23, 2021

The Truth about the Middle Ages


 From El País:

So much so, that Spain’s top scholars of medieval history have signed a manifesto defending the good name of the period they have devoted their career to. The Middle Ages, they say, are an essential time to understand the world we live in today. Without medieval times, we wouldn’t have the majority of languages that we speak today, there would be no time measurement, or many of the recipes that we use to prepare our favorite meals, or even some of the cities that we live in. We wouldn’t even know about the ancient Greek and Roman classics, since these works were preserved in medieval monasteries.

“We can say that ‘medieval’ has been used to describe anything related to backwardness, ignorance, lack of culture, unwholesome habits, barbarity, cruelty, fanaticism, horror, poverty, monstrosity, violence...” reads the manifesto that emerged from a seminar titled The medieval legacy, organized by María Jesús Fuente and held at the Julio Caro Baroja Historiography Institute at Carlos III University in Madrid, where De la Fuente is an emeritus professor in medieval history. (Read more.)
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Unspoken Rules of Etiquette That Every Southerner Follows

 From Southern Living:


Never chew with your mouth open or talk with your mouth full. Do. Not. Smack.
Take off your hat or cap in the house, especially when eating or when a lady is present. Don't even think about coming near Mama in her house with that thing on your head. Not if you want to keep it. And we'll leave it to you to decide whether "it" refers to your hat or your head.
Elbows off the table.
No young people (family members under 40) at the "big table" unless there's room to spare after all the elders are seated and even then, only if invited to join.
Don't sing or whistle at the table.
Don't talk about unpleasantries at the table.
When friends come over, children should let their guests choose the games and the snacks. That one's actually not a bad idea. It teaches consideration and courtesy. Agree?
Speaking of refreshments, we always offer some, even if they're simple. And we always take some (or at least offer to) whenever we attend a gathering, be it a barbecue or a funeral.
Conversely, it's considered bad form to ask for something to eat when you're a guest. You must wait to be offered food or drink—sometimes hope to be.
As a general rule of thumb, it's always ladies first in the South. But there are annoying exceptions. "Men get to go first in the food line at Christmas," writes Beverly from Birmingham. "I do not agree with this rule, but I have to do what my mother said to do."
Always see your guests to the door when they leave.
Men and boys, open doors for women and girls. Everybody hold the door open for whomever is approaching from behind you. Writes Kelly, a Southerner transplanted to the Big Apple: "Southerners instinctively know if people are behind us when we're walking into stores, restaurants, and offices, and we patiently hold the door. My son inherited this ability even though he was born in NYC and is growing up northern."
Always say please and thank you.
Always send a thank-you note (not a text) for a gift.
Always say yes ma'am and no ma'am (unless you're up north, where they seem to get offended by it, though we have no idea why).
No cell phones at the table, in church, at the cemetery, or anywhere near Memaw. She hates those things.
No running in the house unless it's on fire—and it better be a hot one.
Men and boys should stand when a lady comes into the room or when she's being seated. Everybody (regardless of gender) should stand when an elder (regardless of gender) enters the room or is being seated.
Never let on that you've heard PawPaw tell that story before. Says Gae in Alabama: "We are very good at listening to a friend or relative's retelling of a story for the umpteenth time as if it's the first time we're hearing it. It's respectful and just part of the fun of spending time together."
Parents should teach their children how to handle themselves in "big church." Fortunately, there aren't that many rules to remember: eyes forward, no running, no talking, no loud whispering, no looking like you want to say something, eyes closed and head bowed during prayer, no bellowing during the song service, no turning to see who's behind you, no kicking the pew in front of you, no fidgeting, no taking off your Sunday shoes, no pointing, no rummaging in Mama's purse, and no pushing at the fellowship table. That's not everything but it's enough for Junior and Sissy to qualify as raised right.(Read more.)

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In the Midst of Crisis, Be Driven by Faith, Not by Fear

 From Crisis:

The Church was not first in time, nor is it first in our lives. Christ came first: He sought out the apostles, He attracted the disciples, He redeemed us, He saves us even now, and the point of our whole life is to get to know Him. To be sure, He is the head of the Church, and we are members of that Church; it is the “place” where we meet Him. But it is neither first nor last.

There is no way to know or understand or figure out the Church (or theology or liturgy or anything) without that fundamental relationship with Christ—being a son of the Father in and through Him. He is the Rock below the rock (Peter/the pope), and He is the only Rock that never shifts, being eternally stable.

We all know the story in which Jesus is sleeping in the bow of the storm-tossed boat. To some people today, it seems He’s never going to wake up from His slumber. This, too, is untrue. Rather, we are too busy freaking out to see that Christ is already awake and waiting to look us in the eye, if only we would stop for a moment, overcome our fear of silence, our fear of being alone with Him, and rest in Him. (Read more.)

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