Monday, October 31, 2022

Leftists Will Be Leftists

 From The Blade of Perseus:

Yet, there will not even be a futile, last-minute progressive attempt at correction. Leftist ideologues never backtrack from their long-march agendas. Instead, as religious nihilists they would rather be purist in their destructive policies that alienate the voters—rather than win them over as apostates by moderating their views. However, do not even expect the Left to brag on their “successes.” For example:

  • “We gave you a wonderful, welcoming open border and 3 million new Americans!”
  • “We worked to get gas up to $5 a gallon in a way Barack Obama only dreamed!”
  • “We finally have fewer felons in jail and prisons than ever before!”
  • “We ended the war in Afghanistan and on our terms!”
  • “We really spread the wealth with an 8 percent plus annual inflation rate!”

Instead, they will fall silent on the very policies they enacted on their age-old principle that the opiated masses never know what is good for them. Given these realities, expect the Republicans to end up with a near historical majority in the House and firm control of the Senate. What then should we expect after the midterms?

Again, we will be told that democracy is now in its final stages. Voter “suppression” was rampant, even as turnout hit near record levels. When those leftist talking points don’t convince voters, pundits will lament the stupidity of the American people, the malevolent MAGA surge, the racist nature of the country—any excuse other than the new Democratic Party is the domain of the hyper-rich, the bicoastal white professional elites, the subsidized poor, and affluent and privileged minorities. And it is increasingly despised by the white working class, by nearly half of the Hispanic population, by more and more independents, and by a growing minority of African American males.

Why? Because on issues that count, the Left insults middle-class critics as it destroys them, pushing green, inflationary, open-borders, racially obsessed, and elitist agendas without voter support. In pathetic attempts to distract the electorate to support policies contrary to their interests, it grows hysterical in demanding late-term abortion, mainstreaming transgenderism in all its drag manifestations, and racialist indoctrination, insulting all who demur as bigots and racists.

Democrats Fear Republicans Might Do What They Would Do

But there are other reasons the Left will become livid and terrified when they lose the Congress. They fear not what Republican majorities may actually do, but what they would do if they were Republicans and suddenly gained the Congress after being smeared by the party in power. That is, the Democrats fear that the Republicans might remember what the Left did while in legislative control and would see that as the new model for an incoming majority. Consequently, will a Republican Senate simply refuse to confirm Biden’s ultra-left appointments and judges, on the theory they will inevitably do the damage of a Merrick Garland or Alejandro Mayorkas or prove sanctimonious nincompoops like a Pete Buttigieg or Xavier Becerra? Will the Republicans subpoena an array of left-wing activists and Democratic functionaries? Will jail sentences await any who retry the Eric Holder gambit of congressional defiance? Will they adopt the January 6 committee protocols? (Read more.)


The Real Story Behind Drag Queen Story Hour

 From City Journal:

Start with queer theory, the academic discipline born in 1984 with the publication of Gayle S. Rubin’s essay “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality.” Beginning in the late 1970s, Rubin, a lesbian writer and activist, had immersed herself in the subcultures of leather, bondage, orgies, fisting, and sado-masochism in San Francisco, migrating through an ephemeral network of BDSM (bondage, domination, sadomasochism) clubs, literary societies, and New Age spiritualist gatherings. In “Thinking Sex,” Rubin sought to reconcile her experiences in the sexual underworld with the broader forces of American society. Following the work of the French theorist Michel Foucault, Rubin sought to expose the power dynamics that shaped and repressed human sexual experience.

“Modern Western societies appraise sex acts according to a hierarchical system of sexual value,” Rubin wrote. “Marital, reproductive heterosexuals are alone at the top erotic pyramid. Clamouring below are unmarried monogamous heterosexuals in couples, followed by most other heterosexuals. . . . Stable, long-term lesbian and gay male couples are verging on respectability, but bar dykes and promiscuous gay men are hovering just above the groups at the very bottom of the pyramid. The most despised sexual castes currently include transsexuals, transvestites, fetishists, sadomasochists, sex workers such as prostitutes and porn models, and the lowliest of all, those whose eroticism transgresses generational boundaries.”

Rubin’s project—and, by extension, that of queer theory—was to interrogate, deconstruct, and subvert this sexual hierarchy and usher in a world beyond limits, much like the one she had experienced in San Francisco. The key mechanism for achieving this turn was the thesis of social construction. “The new scholarship on sexual behaviour has given sex a history and created a constructivist alternative to” the view that sex is a natural and pre-political phenomenon, Rubin wrote. “Underlying this body of work is an assumption that sexuality is constituted in society and history, not biologically ordained. This does not mean the biological capacities are not prerequisites for human sexuality. It does mean that human sexuality is not comprehensible in purely biological terms.” In other words, traditional conceptions of sex, regarding it as a natural behavior that reflects an unchanging order, are pure mythology, designed to rationalize and justify systems of oppression. For Rubin and later queer theorists, sex and gender were infinitely malleable. There was nothing permanent about human sexuality, which was, after all, “political.” Through a revolution of values, they believed, the sexual hierarchy could be torn down and rebuilt in their image.

There was some reason to believe that Rubin might be right. The sexual revolution had been conquering territory for two decades: the birth-control pill, the liberalization of laws surrounding marriage and abortion, the intellectual movements of feminism and sex liberation, the culture that had emerged around Playboy magazine. By 1984, as Rubin acknowledged, stable homosexual couples had achieved a certain amount of respectability in society. But Rubin, the queer theorists, and the fetishists of the BDSM subculture wanted more. They believed that they were on the cusp of fundamentally transforming sexual norms. “There [are] historical periods in which sexuality is more sharply contested and more overtly politicized,” Rubin wrote. “In such periods, the domain of erotic life is, in effect, renegotiated.” And, following the practice of any good negotiator, they laid out their theory of the case and their maximum demands. As Rubin explained: “A radical theory of sex must identify, describe, explain, and denounce erotic injustice and sexual oppression. Such a theory needs refined conceptual tools which can grasp the subject and hold it in view. It must build rich descriptions of sexuality as it exists in society and history. It requires a convincing critical language that can convey the barbarity of sexual persecution.” Once the ground is softened and the conventions are demystified, the sexual revolutionaries could do the work of rehabilitating the figures at the bottom of the hierarchy—“transsexuals, transvestites, fetishists, sadomasochists, sex workers.”

Where does this process end? At its logical conclusion: the abolition of restrictions on the behavior at the bottom end of the moral spectrum—pedophilia. Though she uses euphemisms such as “boylovers” and “men who love underaged youth,” Rubin makes her case clearly and emphatically. In long passages throughout “Thinking Sex,” Rubin denounces fears of child sex abuse as “erotic hysteria,” rails against anti–child pornography laws, and argues for legalizing and normalizing the behavior of “those whose eroticism transgresses generational boundaries.” These men are not deviants, but victims, in Rubin’s telling. “Like communists and homosexuals in the 1950s, boylovers are so stigmatized that it is difficult to find defenders for their civil liberties, let alone for their erotic orientation,” she explains. “Consequently, the police have feasted on them. Local police, the FBI, and watchdog postal inspectors have joined to build a huge apparatus whose sole aim is to wipe out the community of men who love underaged youth. In twenty years or so, when some of the smoke has cleared, it will be much easier to show that these men have been the victims of a savage and undeserved witch hunt.” Rubin wrote fondly of those primitive hunter-gatherer tribes in New Guinea in which “boy-love” was practiced freely.

Such positions are hardly idiosyncratic within the discipline of queer theory. The father figure of the ideology, Foucault, whom Rubin relies upon for her philosophical grounding, was a notorious sadomasochist who once joined scores of other prominent intellectuals to sign a petition to legalize adult–child sexual relationships in France. Like Rubin, Foucault haunted the underground sex scene in the Western capitals and reveled in transgressive sexuality. “It could be that the child, with his own sexuality, may have desired that adult, he may even have consented, he may even have made the first moves,” Foucault once told an interviewer on the question of sex between adults and minors. “And to assume that a child is incapable of explaining what happened and was incapable of giving his consent are two abuses that are intolerable, quite unacceptable.” (Read more.)


Why Did Shakespeare Paint Richard III as a Villain?

 From Matt Lewis at History Hit:

This central magic trick in Richard III, the sleight of hand of making us like a villain so that we fail to stop him, just might provide the explanation for Shakespeare’s play. The play was written somewhere around 1592-1594. Queen Elizabeth I had been on the throne for about 35 years and was around 60 years old. One thing was clear: the Queen would not be having any children, and the image she crafted as timeless Gloriana could not hide that fact.

A succession crisis was brewing, and those moments were always dangerous. If Shakespeare wanted to tackle this contemporary issue, he would need a safe facade from behind which he could do it. Openly questioning the succession would mean discussing the queen’s death, which strayed into treason. There had been recent succession problems in the Tudor dynasty, but discussing the queen’s siblings would be indelicate too. However, there was a succession crisis, or series of crises, the Tudor dynasty had positioned itself as having solved: the Wars of the Roses. That might do nicely.

Viewing Shakespeare’s Richard III and his other histories as, well, history is to miss the point of them entirely. They speak to something timeless in human nature, and they often say more about Shakespeare’s own day as much as the time they were set in. It is possible that we can see the Bard’s message far more clearly in Richard III than elsewhere. This theory relies on accepting that Shakespeare was a recalcitrant Catholic, preferring the old faith to the new. During the 1590s, work was underway to deal with the looming succession crisis, even if it could not be discussed openly. William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth’s closest advisor throughout her reign, was in his 70s, but still active. He was supported by his son, the man he was planning to take his place eventually. Robert Cecil was 30 in 1593. He was central to the plan to make James VI of Scotland the next monarch after Elizabeth’s death. James, like the Cecil family, was a Protestant. If Shakespeare’s sympathies were Catholic, then this would not have been an outcome he would have hoped to see.

In this context, Robert Cecil is an interesting man. He would serve James VI when he also became James I of England, becoming Earl of Salisbury too. He was at the centre of uncovering the Gunpowder Plot. Motley’s History of the Netherlands contains a description of Robert Cecil dating from 1588. He is described, in language we would not use today, as “a slight, crooked, hump-backed young gentleman, dwarfish in stature”.(Read more.)

Via Murrey and Blue.


Also from Matt Lewis: ten portrayals of Richard III on screen, HERE.


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Restoring the Catholic Roots of Halloween

 From The Liturgical Arts Journal:

In my previous articles on the liturgical roots of Halloween, I have examined some of the customs of the Vigil and how they might be adapted to the present day. This year, I thought it might be useful to distill these disparate musings into a convenient list of ways that individuals and families can restore the spiritual and liturgical heart of Halloween. 
1. Reading the Mass and Office for the Vigil of All Saints. As the vigil of All Saints was unfortunately suppressed in 1955, later Missals and Breviaries will not have it. But thanks to the Internet you can easily find the texts online. In 2021, Halloween falls on a Sunday (Christ the King in the traditional Missal), so we will all be honoring the day with Holy Mass. You may want to bring along a pre-1955 Missal or print out the Introit and Collect for private prayer during Mass.

2. Attend or Say First Vespers. First Vespers of All Saints are sung on the evening of Halloween, and this is the only liturgical tradition proper to the day that still survives everywhere. If you are lucky enough to have public Vespers in your area, this would be a great way to reconnect with that ancient liturgical tradition. Otherwise, you can always pray Vespers together with friends or at home.

3. Pray “Black Vespers”: This is a popular name for Vespers of the Dead, said in black vestments. Although it is not officially on the Roman liturgical books for Halloween, it was a popular custom to pray it at the cemetery in Brittany and other places, and it harmonizes well with the idea of freeing souls from Purgatory that is so characteristic of the day.

4. Sing the Hymns. There is indeed sacred music appropriate for Halloween! Most important is the Vespers hymn Christe Redemptor Omnium, conserva tuos famulos (also known as Placare Christe Servulis). This hymn gave rise to English versions like Caswall’s O Christ Thy Guilty people spare and, O Christ, Thy servants deign to spare from the Brébeuf hymnal. Michael Haydn (1737-1806) composed a setting of the gradual of the Halloween Mass, Exsultabunt sancti in Gloria. And generally hymns for both All Saints, like Ye watchers and ye holy ones, and All Souls, like Help Lord the Souls, are very appropriate for the day. There are various recordings of Souling Songs by Peter Paul and Mary and other folk groups; we also greatly enjoy the organ-accompanied rendition by Kristen Lawrence.

5. Fast. Vigils were traditionally fast days, and the Vigil of All Saints was specifically mentioned in the Baltimore Manual of Prayer (1888) as an obligatory day of fasting in the USA. (Read more.)

I think the saints' costumes are lovely and a good idea for children during Hallowtide. But my daughter had fun running down the street on Halloween pretending to be a pirate with a glow-in-the-dark sword. From Crisis:

The value of any tradition lies in its pedagogical power; but that pedagogy must often be consciously or creatively applied in the work of restoring Christian culture. The implication of Halloween is that death precedes the possibility of saintly glory and the redemptive suffering of Purgatory—and it delivers this earthly message with winks, chills, and some candy. Like a good-humored rendition of Dante’s Inferno, Halloween can and should recall the darkness of error as well as the soul’s fulfillment in Christ.

I believe in the Chaucerian principle that part of the process of overcoming evil is to laugh at it—but that means allowing evil to retain its identity for the sake of our exultant ridicule. And that requires a bold Catholic attitude that looks the fearful in the eye fearlessly—and, at Halloween, the fearful take the form of vampires, werewolves, zombies, and witches. Catholics should laugh at these as symbols of overthrown evil and encourage children to enjoy their silly spectacles, even though they may be a little scary. Again, the character (or caricature) of evil should not be lost in calling out its defeat.

For this reason, saints shouldn’t replace spooks on Halloween. There is, I think, something unimaginative in All Saints dress-up parties that miss out on the significance of ghost and goblin in Catholic iconography and festivity. There is a day for the celebration of all the saints on November 1st, but Halloween is for the imps whose overthrow made way for saints to exist. Such pious costume parties are popular as a counterbalance to the often overwhelming and unfortunate horrors and obscenities of the season; and they do, of course, encourage a traditional awareness and attitude by turning the minds and hearts of children toward eternal things. But these celebrations miss out on some of the potential and delight in the Church’s liturgical poetry. (Read more.)


Kari Lake Shows the Real Path to “Trumpism After Trump”

 From Revolver:

Donald Trump remains the favorite for the 2024 Republican nomination — and reports of his political death by petty pundits are exaggerated, to put it generously. But even if the nation is blessed with a second presidential term, Trump won’t be around forever. And ever since Trump won the most important electoral victory in modern American history six years ago, patriotic Americans have wondered: Can the “Donald Trump moment” survive beyond Donald Trump himself?

Wonder no more. The first true heir of Donald Trump — the person who matches not only his America-first positions but also his incredible raw political talent — has arrived. In Kari Lake, the America First movement doesn’t just have the next governor of Arizona. It has a budding national (or even global) superstar.

“Trumpism after Trump” has become a familiar routine. For years, professional conservatives have lectured voters about the need to translate President Trump’s winning style into a “serious” policy agenda. But this charisma-free vision of politics misses the essential core of Trump’s appeal. Kari Lake reminds us exactly what that is.

In a great many cases, this post-Trump ideology is little more than wish fulfillment—the dreamer’s fantasy of a political movement that takes everything the dreamer likes about Trump while cutting loose everything they dislike about it. In fact, the most common dream is better described not as “Trumpism after Trump,” but as Trumpism without Trump.

According to these establishment luminaries, Donald Trump was too crude, uncouth, and belligerent. He spent too much time on Twitter jousting with his critics, and too little time poring over the most recent Conservatism Inc. white papers. Trump traumatized these nerds by blowing up the polite version of politics that they wish existed; the fake image broadcasted in Aaron Sorkin TV shows.

When these people dream of a political future, they fantasize about Trump’s policies (or a stale, watered-down version thereof) offered by a figure as boring as they are, someone less combative and therefore more “respectable.” This person, they believe, will win electoral and policy victories without spurring the liberal opposition’s anger and intensity. He won’t get them denounced as “fascist” by the media or their former friends.

These people mean well, but they misunderstand Trump and they misunderstand America.

A person sporting Donald Trump’s America First agenda will never be respectable, because the guardians of “respectability” in American life refuse to grant it. For the ruling elites of America, to be an authentic challenger to the regime is to automatically be regarded as disreputable, dangerous, and a “threat to democracy.” (Read more.)


Objects We Inherited From Ancient Egyptians

 From History of Yesterday:

 While contemporary makeup is largely reserved for women, in ancient Egypt, both women and men were extremely concerned about their appearance and hygiene. People used makeup for all sorts of reasons, from being part of religious ceremonies to medical reasons. The Egyptians designed beauty products such as dermatographia pencils by mixing soot with minerals and a type of ointment. Makeup was also an indicator of social class: the more colors you used on your skin and body, the richer you seemed, sort of like wearing expensive brands today. (Read more.)


Saturday, October 29, 2022

Clarence House



 Until recently, Clarence House has been the London residence of King Charles and Queen Camilla. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip lived there in the early years of their marriage. From Now to Love:

Clarence House is situated on The Mall in London next to St James's Palace. It was built between 1825 and 1827 for The Duke of Clarence (later King William IV) and his wife Adelaide. It sustained damage during WWII bombing raids and underwent extensive repairs before Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh moved in. One other notable resident was Princess Diana, who moved in to Clarence House before her engagement to Prince Charles was announced. She lived there until they married in 1981. The home is opened up to the public in August each year, where visitors can be given a guided tour of the five rooms and adjoining spaces on the ground floor. (Read more.)

NOTE: George VI was the father of the late Queen not Edward VIII as the article says. Edward VIII was her uncle. And the bust is of her father, not her uncle.


The Church Needs Beauty

 From Maggie Gallagher at First Things:

Since Vatican II, the Church has largely ceased to play its historic role as commissioner of liturgical music. Sacred music composers have thus found that they are mostly asked to write for the concert stage. We risk losing something when two generations of composers are never given the opportunity to master the craft of writing for the liturgy, for the worship of God. What Archbishop Cordileone has accomplished is thus no small thing. He recognized that beauty’s power to shape our souls—to remind us that we have souls—is missing in the Catholic effort to evangelize. The archbishop of San Francisco understood that more needed to be done to energize “a Catholic culture of the arts.”

The Church responded to the Reformation by investing in new works of art, including sacred music for the Mass, which won over audiences in the great cathedrals. In today's classical music world, holding a successful premiere for a new work by a relatively unknown composer is difficult. To get a second performance is almost impossible. The Mass of the Americas, by contrast, has been performed in less than four years in San Francisco, Tijuana, Houston, New Jersey, D.C., New York, and, most recently, Rome. Frank La Rocca’s second commission from Archbishop Cordileone, a Requiem Mass for the Homeless, is following a similar path. It premiered first in San Francisco, before being repurposed as a fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees in New Jersey. It is scheduled for celebration in Dallas next year.

Cappella Records reports brisk sales both here and abroad: “We are seeing signs of a great deal of interest in the Mass of the Americas from Spanish-speaking countries as well, as befits a unity Mass,” Mark Powell, executive director of the company, told me. 

Numbers are one thing. But Mass of the Americas is also touching souls. “As a Mexican-American Catholic who is entrenched in the world of choral music, I never imagined my spheres coming together so closely,” one young musician wrote to Frank La Rocca. “I couldn't believe I would ever listen to such a powerful piece of music that was also laced with the hymn that my late grandmother used to sing to me as a child.” (Read more.)


Moments Beyond the Clock

 From First Things:

And so it is with some astonishment that we read the claims of that author of the modern novel par excellence, Leo Tolstoy, who said, after the publication of War and Peace, that his books were not “novels” in the European sense, but icons. War and Peace, and indeed other Russian prose works, should be read as “huge poetic structures for symbolic contemplation, not unlike icons, laboratories in which to test ideas; and, like a science or religion, they were animated by the search for truth” (Natasha’s Dance, Orlando Figes).

The reason this is such an extraordinary claim is that the novel fits modernity like glove fits hand and hat fits head. The novel was born in the heyday of the Newtonian, mechanistic worldview; you can feel its affinity with a great physics experiment, or even an anatomy dissection, more than with a liturgy. Students of physics, then as now, were taught to trace the transfer of energy among interacting “particles.” Indeed, early-nineteenth-century physicist Laplace boasted that if a demon could know the location of every atom and its present velocity, it could tell the future and past of the world, given the immutable laws of physics.

From this perspective, we feel that the great nineteenth-century novelists treat their societies as energy “systems,” wherein the individual psyches of that society are something like atoms: They collide and interact with other psyches, like billiard balls, transferring energy and redirecting one another’s lives. The novel is a gigantic collision of individual hopes, desires, schemes, dreams, and ideas. The novel, as literary critic Terry Eagleton suggests, is what happens to literature after the “mechanization of the world picture.”

This is very much what we feel when reading War and Peace. Tolstoy’s psychological accounts of the interactions of his many characters are scientifically punctilious; they brilliantly depict how a person is shaped through interactions within the “energy” system of his or her society. How does young, pure-hearted Boris, who makes promises of fidelity to Natasha, become the loathsome man who marries a wealthy heiress, even though he finds her empty and unattractive? Each step in each character’s life not only follows logically from internal motivation but is worked out within a field of external impulses.

Tolstoy himself ubiquitously borrows metaphors from classical mechanics. His favorite metaphor for the interactions of administrative society and the bureaucratic army is the clock, the standard metaphor for the Newtonian universe. Elsewhere, Tolstoy refers to the vis inertiae of an army; he calls others “blind tools of the most melancholy law of necessity,” determined by “forces” working in history; and he wonders to what extent history is a “science” in search of its own laws, analogous to the “laws of Kepler and Newton.”

This might have been what Tolstoy meant by treating his novel as a “laboratory.” But at the same time, Tolstoy allows his characters, so to speak, to live independently of his personal whim. He observes them under the pressures of betrayal, love, grief, promotion, childbirth. Within this articulate web of mutual interactions, some characters become worse, while others experience unexpected bursts of joy, moments in which they feel a deep desire for the fullness of being. In other words, Tolstoy’s laboratory stages the world, but in doing so, he can’t help discovering, as if by accident, moments beyond the clock—what we might call “iconic moments.” Something outside of the web of time and space “accidentally” irrupts into the novel. Tolstoy seems as surprised at his “discovery” as we are, like a chemist who mixed chemicals at random until something turned purple or exploded.

There are many such unpredictable “iconic moments” throughout War and Peace, moments that make up the pulse of the book. Toward the end of the story, the once-young, dashing, impulsive, life-loving Nicholas Rostov inherits his ne’er-do-well father’s debts. For a moment, it would seem like the particles are going to continue along the predictable course: Nicholas, with resentment, settles down to a life of drudgery, as his father’s debt collectors swarm about him.

But then, something happens. Princess Mary, a woman Nicholas once loved, catches a glimpse of his “inner man”: “[Nicholas’s] face resumed its former stiff and cold expression. But the princess had caught a glimpse of the man she had known and loved, and it was to him that she now spoke.” She sees the real essence “behind” the face, as in a Russian icon. An iconic moment irrupts: “For a few seconds they gazed silently into one another’s eyes—and what had seemed impossible and remote suddenly became possible, inevitable, and very near.” Against all expectation, they get married. (Read more.)


Friday, October 28, 2022

‘I fell in love with Le Marais’


The story of ‘Boni’ de Castellane and Anna Gould is well known — a tale of Old World taste and New World money befitting a novel by Henry James or Edith Wharton. After marrying the American heiress in New York in 1895, the dapper French count wasted no time relieving his wife of her fortune — not least by commissioning a Grand Trianon-style ‘Palais Rose’ in Paris and persuading her to buy the Château du Marais, an elegant lakefront property in Essonne by a master of Louis XVI architecture, Jean-Benoît-Vincent Barré.

‘I fell in love with Le Marais,’ said Anna, as she and Boni set about restoring the château to its former glory and raising their five children at the same time. Anna soon grew tired of her husband’s spending and affairs, however, and in 1906, she divorced him, marrying his cousin, Hélie de Talleyrand-Périgord, the Duke of Sagan, and having two more children with him.

While Boni wrote his memoir, The Art of Being Poor, the Duke and Duchess refurbished the château, filling it with yet more beautiful things. And after her parents died, their daughter Violette kept it on, entertaining a constant stream of visitors among the 18th-century paintings, furniture, chandeliers and Meissen porcelain. Two decades after Violette’s death, the château has been split between the families of her two daughters, and its contents divided for sale. These include such beautiful and storied items as a set of Louis XVI gilt-walnut seat furniture crafted by Georges Jacob (1739–1814), supplier to Marie Antoinette, or a screen fashioned from four late-17th century panels, probably from Beauvais, the historic tapestry manufactory founded under Louis XIV.

‘There have been several sales of the collection of Boni de Castellane and Anna Gould, one at Christie’s in 2017,’ says Lionel Gosset, Head of Collections at Christie’s Paris. ‘This one is probably the last.’ (Read more.)

From  France-Amérique:

Everything could have been perfect between Anna Gould and her husband, Marie Ernest Paul Boniface “Boni” de Castellane. She dreamed of a noble title; he was a count and member of one of the oldest French aristocratic families. She was barely over 18; he was 28 and had already mastered the art of being a gentleman. She was rich and had excellent taste; unfortunately, Boni de Castellane was warts and all – and not much else!

The count enjoyed telling the press that he had visited the United States in 1895 to “discover the country” and, as an experienced sportsman, “to hunt.” He failed to specify exactly what type of game, but his search stopped in Lakewood, New Jersey, where he attended a party at George Gould’s home. This is where he locked eyes with his sister, Anna, whom he had previously met in Paris. The pair met up once, twice, and then traveled to Canada with her family, smiling coyly all the way. Eventually, to everyone’s surprise, Boni de Castellane declared his love. Yet no one had predicted their affair. The young Anna fully exploited the right to ugliness enjoyed by the rich. She was smaller than average, with an asymmetrical face, frizzy hair, a dull, dark stare, a large nose, and even walked with a slight limp. Even in the most elegant finery, she looked like a little monkey dressed as a princess.

When by her side, Boni’s natural distinction was all the more blatant. With a porcelain complexion, lavender-blue eyes, wavy blonde hair, a strong, arched back, a curled moustache, and impeccably manicured fingernails, he was the archetype of the Parisian dandy. It is likely that the young Anna was impressed by this man, who spent more time meticulously tending to his appearance than all the Gould family put together. What’s more, she had desperately wanted to marry at any cost for more than a year. At any cost? The count’s ears pricked up! With the agreement of the two families, the square peg and the round hole were wed on March 4, 1895, in New York City. Two days later, the couple set off for Europe.


Worthy of the grandest monarchs of the Ancien Régime, the count and countess de Castallane’s lifestyle was so lavish that they burned through 7.7 million dollars (251 million today) in the first five years of their marriage. The international press went wild and American psychiatrists began studying Boni’s personality. They even came up with a name for his behavior: coenaesthesis. The Goulds tried to regulate the couple’s spending, although without attempting to understand it. In 1900, Anna was placed under the guardianship of her brother, George, and her debts (she had dipped extensively into her capital, despite the fact that she was supposed to live on the interest alone) were spread out over several years of repayments.

Boni was outraged at being reduced to live on an annual allowance of 300,000 dollars (less than 10 million today). Meanwhile, Anna had grown tired of her spendthrift, quarrelsome, vain husband. Above all, she hated his numerous affairs and the rumors he spread about her. When leading a visit around their first apartment, Boni found it amusing to describe their bedroom as the “expiatory chapel,” and the “other side of the coin.” Encouraged by her family, she finally divorced in 1906 and took her revenge in 1908 by marrying Boni’s cousin, Duke Hélie de Talleyrand-Périgord, with whom she had two children. Boni, ever the comedian, became an antiques expert and wrote his memoirs under the title The Art of Being Poor(Read more.)
Anna Gould


Gnosticism: the Ideology Behind Transgenderism and Abortion

From Human Events:

The Gnostic belief that the soul is divorced from the body may explain progressive support for both transgenderism and abortion. It’s not a coincidence that those who believe that gender identity is divorced from biological reality are also likely to believe that a human fetus is not a human being. Both are at odds with basic biology and the Judeo-Christian roots of our civilization but congruent with the dogmas of the ancient mystical faith of Gnosticism.

Gnosticism is an esoteric religious movement with Platonic and Pagan influences that grew out of early Christian and Jewish sects beginning in the 1st century AD. Though regarded as heresy by the majority of Christians and Jews, Gnostic beliefs have influenced various religious sects, ideologies and philosophers over the last 2,000 years. More recently, and relevantly, Gnosticism served as the foundation for the ideas of Hegel, Marx, Marcuse and other neo-Marxists; and by extension, has substantially influenced the current-day mainstream left.

The central thesis of Gnosticism is that each individual is in possession of personal spiritual knowledge called “gnosis” (in other words, “my truth”), and that the object of one’s life is to pursue this personal truth in order to liberate one’s soul from the oppressive material world, which is viewed not as God’s good and true creation but rather an evil mistake. This is why the segregation of body and soul is an essential component of Gnosticism, because one of the chief ends of the belief system is to free the soul from the prison of the body.

Conversely, the traditional, Judeo-Christian view of human nature posits that body and soul are conjoined – that a human being is an inseparable unity of matter and spirit. Or, for the less religiously inclined, that your mind or your consciousness has only ever and can only ever exist together with your physical body and not as its own entity or in a different body because a different body would produce a different mind.

According to the Gnostics, however, the body is merely a meat robot and an individual is identified purely by their soul, which resides “inside” this otherwise meaningless bag of meat and bones.

In that sense, then, the Gnostic influence on transgender ideology is crystal clear: If an individual is identified only by his or her soul, and the soul is its own free-floating entity divorced from – though trapped within – the body, then it’s not a leap at all to say that one might be born “in” the wrong body.

But, of course, one can’t be born “in” the wrong body if one can’t be born “in” a body at all, as the traditional, Judeo-Christian and scientific worldviews hold. If the soul and the body are in unity, then the soul isn’t born into the body but rather with it. This is why many detractors of transgenderism not only view it as morally wrong, but also impossible.

Now consider the left’s position on abortion, where the Gnostic influence is less immediately apparent. In a way, the left’s justification for abortion is the polar opposite of its justification for transgenderism, but upon closer analysis, the basis for its positions on these two controversial social issues are opposite ends of the same Gnostic belief that body and soul are split.

Whereas transgenderism falsely hinges on using only spirit – or rather one’s own perception of it – to determine a person’s nature, the pro-abortion position falsely hinges on using only matter to determine an unborn person’s nature. Both clearly depend on the segregation of body and soul.

Think of the “clump of cells” euphemism that the left uses to describe a human fetus. Isn’t that very similar to the Gnostic view that the physical body of an adult human is just a meaningless “bag of meat”? And according to the left, only once a baby is born – because then the lights are turned on, so to speak – is the baby human because only then is it conscious (or in Gnostic terms, only then is the soul “inside” of the body).

Justification for abortion rests on this claim that a human fetus isn’t a human individual yet, and the left believes this because in its eyes a fetus in the womb does not yet house a soul. (Most leftists of course wouldn’t say this explicitly, as they’re unaware of the Gnostic roots of their own ideology.) In that sense, then, to the Gnostic left, abortion is a sort of soul-sacrifice ritual – an act of “aborting” supposedly meaningless meat so that a supposedly not-yet-created soul doesn’t have to enter a world of suffering. (Read more.)


Biden is Destroying the Economy

 From The Washington Examiner:

Here are seven Biden administration steps to undermine an economy and a society from within. They will all sound familiar with the president's policies since he took office 21 months ago.

1. Dismantle the nation’s energy supply. We get 70% of our energy from fossil fuels. Biden has declared war on American oil and gas, making us more dependent on our enemies for our basic energy needs.

2. Don’t enforce the border. Biden is letting hundreds of thousands of potential criminals, terrorists, welfare recipients, and enemies of the United States into our country through a porous southern border with Mexico. Immigration is good, but it must be orderly and regulated.

3. Devalue the nation’s currency through inflation. Inflation is up nearly 15% since Biden came into office. Inflation is a means to erode the value of a currency. 

4. Destroy the nation’s finances by running up the debt by multiple trillions of dollars of debt. No president in modern times has so recklessly pushed our nation into debt as rapidly as Biden through his $4 trillion in spending paid for with red ink.

5. Divide rather than unite the nation. Rich versus poor, black versus white, gay versus straight, rural versus urban. Biden promised unity. Instead, he pits groups against each other. This is the identity politics of the Left that is the opposite of "e pluribus unum."

6. Dumb down and indoctrinate our children with anti-American propaganda in the schools and media. And allowing teacher unions and left-wing activists to take over the curriculum with anti-American propaganda. It is the opposite of nurturing patriotism and love of country.

7. Decriminalize a lot. Let criminals onto the streets. End bail. Empty the prisons. Let minor crimes go unpunished. Biden’s policies favor criminals over victims. It’s a scene out of a Batman movie. (Read more.)


On Creative Work: Resistance and Retaliation

 From author Clare Dwyer at Even the Sparrow:

There are some natural and supernatural forces at work in our lives, keeping us from fully becoming the creative people we were born to be.  I believe calling them out affords a sort of power over the temptation to procrastinate and put off doing what would make us most fully ourselves.

The first force is resistance 

That is, the inertia around our best, most sacred work. Anything but that our minds and bodies moan.  We experience this resistance because what is most worth doing requires something from us.  It costs us—often dearly.  It means digging deep, drawing forth, going places within ourselves.  It means ignoring all the distractions that glitter around us for the sake of what is not shiny but far more lasting. That means there’s a transaction happening—the spending of energy that we have a limited allotment of every day.  It’s a precious commodity.  It’s something to be stewarded.  And when it is gone—it really is gone. We can’t do excellent work with the dregs of our energy.

“Everyone has his own unique mission, which he discovers when he becomes aware of his talent. The accomplishment of this mission requires all of our vital energies,” writes Alexandre Havard in Created for Greatness: The Power of Magnanimity.

And then, too, creating is risky.  It is vulnerable, because we, by necessity, leave something of ourselves in the work.  Something that could be ignored, scored, or laughed at.  Resistance is often the function of a protective part of ourselves, doing its job, trying to keep us unremarkable. Safe. Blending in means being without the risk of rejection.  And there is an overpowering guardian within us that wants it that way.  “And I was afraid, and I went and buried your talent in the ground.” (Matt 25:25)

God has bigger plans for us, and He knows well the parts at play deep inside.  It is part of His purpose for our healing and spiritual maturity, our growth in wholeness as we grow in prayer, to allow for the creative, expansive side of us to bloom.  The closer we come to God, the more we become like Him, the more we will flourish and show forth His glory.

But that?  That makes someone furious. 

Our enemy cannot be creative.  

He can only mimic, distort, tear down. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) And so when we, God-like, design and dance and draw forth beautiful and holy things out of darkness, his fury and envy know no bounds. (Read more.)


Thursday, October 27, 2022

Turgot: How a Visionary French Philosopher Accidentally Fueled Famine, Riots and Revolt

 From Politico:

Crucially, Turgot at first came to think that before unleashing free markets, one had to first protect the poor from the immediate market shock of liberalization and that the state would have to step in to help those with no work and no food. In Limoges, he forced landowners to support the poor, and worked to end the feudal forced road-building labor of the corvées by developing a tax for building highways, which, in turn, he hoped would help facilitate grain transportation. He proposed establishing state-supported “Charity Offices and Workshops” to provide employment for the poor to do public works. Turgot even tried to import food to sustain his impoverished region to spur its growth so it could improve its grain production. He then employed his state powers to help found the now-famous Limoges porcelain industry, which still exists today. Turgot’s unorthodox and highly pragmatic mix of liberalizing and state intervention produced modest success.

But as he crafted a theory to solve France’s economic woes, he still saw excessive state intervention over bread, the main staple of people’s diet, as the central problem. In times of poor harvest, the crown capped grain prices, kept emergency stores and facilitated grain distribution. Additionally, a number of powerful players — including the king’s brothers — made a fortune on tolls and various grain taxes. Turgot’s Letters on the Liberty of the Grain Trade (1770) was based on the simple equation that if the crown removed its caps, guarantees, protections and other tolls, the grain trade would prosper and the market would expand, thus bringing more profits to farmers and lower prices to consumers. (Read more.)


It Takes a Village to Take Your Child

 From American Greatness:

Hillary Clinton’s 1996 groomer handbook It Takes a Village made the case that parents can’t do it alone; you need an active and involved community to raise your children for with you. “We all depend on other adults whom we know—from teachers to doctors to neighbors to pastors—and on those whom we may not—from police to firefighters to employers to media producers [!] to political leaders—to help us inform, support, or protect our children.”

Increasingly, however, the only danger the Village wants to protect your own kids from is YOU.

America’s Favorite Supervillain, Governor Gavin Newsom, just legalized child kidnapping in California.

State Bill 107 will allow the State to seize children from their own legal parents who are not sufficiently “affirming” of a child’s misguided wish to mutilate themselves and destroy their own lives. As the Federalist explains, “California courts will have the power to strip custody from parents, wherever they live, who doubt the wisdom of these experimental and irreversible procedures — if their child so much as steps foot in California.” In other words, even if you don’t even live in California, the long arm of the Village can capture your kid in their net.

Immediately after Newsom signed that law—almost as if there was a coordinated campaign by the village elders—the American Medical Association issued a letter to the Department of Justice begging them to imprison anyone who dares stand in the way of them having full access to your child’s body and mind. As Christopher Rufo tweeted, “The AMA asks the DOJ to ‘investigate and prosecute high-profile social media users’ who share ‘misleading information’ about ‘gender-affirming health care.’”

“Transgender medicine saves lives!” The medical experts and politicians scream at vulnerable parents. “Quick, inject your eight-year-old with experimental, off-label Lupron and synthetic chemical hormones before they/them kills their/themselves!”

Castrating and sterilizing young boys is lifesaving health care.

Double mastectomies and hysterectomies on teenage girls is pediatric best practices.

YOU are a child-abusing extremist if you object.

I wrote last year about our own family pediatrician, who is already shooing parents out of her examination room and asking teenage boys if they are “comfortable with their gender.” She somehow forgot to ask me, his mother, if I was comfortable with her unwelcome intrusion into my relationship with my own child. (Read more.)


Pre-Revolution Chinese Detective Fiction

 From CrimeReads:

Mysteries and detective fiction are usually thought of as the inventions of Edgar Allan Poe, but the truth is that they have both been popular in China for over a thousand years. The Chinese have no clear place or person of origin for mysteries and detective fiction, the way the West has Poe, but what the Chinese do have are centuries’ more mysteries and detective stories than the West does.

The first Chinese proto-mysteries—that is, mysteries who some but not all of the elements of modern mystery fiction—were the “gong’an” (“court case”) stories. Told in the form of oral performances and puppetry shows, the gong’an began appearing during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Gong’an traditionally featured incorruptible government officials solving criminal cases and bringing about justice to the guilty and restoration to those who were wronged. Later, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), gong’an plays and novels were among the most popular generic forms of Chinese literature, but they declined in popularity during the early years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). However, they experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 19th century, when they were combined with the “wuxia” (martial arts) genre to create novels which were both mysteries and martial arts action-adventure stories.

Near the end of the 19th century an influx of Western detective and mystery fiction changed how the Chinese viewed mysteries. In 1896 translations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories began to appear in the Shanghai newspaper Shiwubao. The stories were immediately popular, and over the next twenty years hundreds of English-language detective and mystery stories were translated and printed in Chinese newspapers and magazines. Scholars have estimated that of the approximately 1000 translations of Western fiction published between 1896 and 1911, at least half were translations of detective stories. The Holmes stories were the most popular and well-respected of the translated detective stories, so much so that an expensive 1916 collection of forty-four Holmes stories was reprinted twenty times through 1936.

Publications of translated Western detective stories slackened during the 1910s thanks to the turmoil and unrest following the 1911 Xinhai Revolution, but picked up again during the 1920s. What followed during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s is described by critics as the “golden age” of Chinese detective fiction, with a number of famous Chinese detective writers emerging and publishing their best work during those decades. Many of these stories were closely based on Western models, from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stores to Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles stories to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe stories, but each imitation detective was made Chinese, and therefore new, in character, methods, milieu, and plots. (Read more.)


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Navigating Middle-earth Before the Bending of the Seas


“Above all arts,” says the Akallabêth, the Men of Númenor “nourished ship-building and sea-craft, and they became mariners whose like shall never be again since the world was diminished; and voyaging upon the wide seas was the chief feat and adventure of their hardy men in the gallant days of their youth.” With the exception of the Undying Lands, travel to which was banned, the Dúnedain traversed the Sundering Sea and beyond: “from the darkness of the North to the heats of the South, and beyond the South to the Nether Darkness; and they came even into the inner seas, and sailed about Middle-earth and glimpsed from their high prows the Gates of Morning in the East.” In other words: they got around.

To travel the world like that doesn’t just require hardy seafarers and ships, it requires skilled navigation. And that’s where the problem is. Before the Changing of the World that destroyed Númenor bent the seas and made the world round, the world—Arda—was flat. And if you know enough about maps, navigation, or mucking about with boats, you know that will have serious implications for navigation.

Think about how a sailing crew would navigate on our world. During the later years of the Age of Sail, a navigator might make use of a compass, a sextant and a marine chronometer to figure out their precise location on a map—the compass to determine bearing; the sextant to determine the latitude from the height of the Sun at noon or Polaris at night; the chronometer to determine longitude. (Longitude can be determined by measuring the difference in time between noon in two locations: if local noon is an hour earlier in one position than it is in another, it’s 15 degrees west of that other position.) Earlier in maritime history an astrolabe or a Jacob’s staff would have been used instead of a sextant.

All of these tools are predicated on a spherical (okay, oblate spheroid) world. On a flat earth they wouldn’t work the same way, or even at all. On a flat earth, noon takes place at the same time around the world—Arda has no time zones—so longitude can’t be determined that way. And while the angle of the Sun or the celestial north pole might change the further north or south you go, it would not (as we will see) be a reliable way of determining latitude.

So how could the Númenóreans have navigated? That’s a surprisingly tricky question—one I didn’t think would have a good answer when I started working on this article. But it turns out that there are methods they could have used to cross the wide seas of Arda without getting completely and hopelessly lost. In this thought experiment, I explore how they might have done it. (Read more.)

My review of The Rings of Power, HERE



Iran and Russia

 From Gregg Jarrett:

The Washington Post reported Sunday that U.S. and allied security officials revealed Iran has agreed to sell Russia “Iranian-made surface-to-surface missiles.” They are intended “for use against Ukrainian cities and troop positions.”

In August, reports surfaced that Russia was buying remotely piloted aircraft from Iran, including the Mohajer-6 and the Shahed-series drones. Russian cargo flights reportedly picked up the first order of drones in late August, according to The Washington Post. Additionally, it is rumored that Iranians allegedly  are training Russian soldiers to use them in.

“They teach the Russians how to use kamikaze drones, and directly monitor the launch of drones on Ukrainian civilian targets, including strikes on Mykolaiv and Odesa,” the Ukrainian National Resistance Center said on Wednesday. Officials say the latest round of sales marks “the first time an Iran-to-Russia missiles sale has gone forward since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.”

The Post states intelligence reports show “that Russia, per a deal struck on Sept. 18, will buy the Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar short-range ballistic missiles, which are capable of hitting targets at 300 and 700 kilometers, respectively. The reports hold that Iran is already preparing the first shipment of missiles.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian denied that Iran has provided drones or weapons to Russia. “We believe that arming either side will prolong the war, and we do not think that war is the right way – not in Ukraine, not in Yemen, not in Syria, not in Afghanistan,” said Amir-Abdollahian, according to Israel’s Maariv news. (Read more.)


Left-wing Trump-hating Catholic Professors

 We all know some. As I have written before, I have had two lefties trolling me and my blog and books for more than a decade, accusing me of all kinds of aberrations. They claim to hate my writing but they always manage to work their left-wing politics into their assessment of my work, even to the point of mentioning my support of Trump, HERE and HERE. So my support of Trump has been reason enough to attack my work, and get me banned from posting on Amazon and Goodreads. I wrote about the experience, HERE. The outrage that I would dare to defend myself is expressed by them, HERE. They really hate Trump. Does that mean they voted for pro-abortion Biden? Or Marxist Bernie! Or abortion-loving Hillary?  And oh yes, "Kraken" is one of the names they like to call me. And no, I never called "Maggie's" boss in an attempt to get her fired. I would not know who to call.

 Why  persons of such sophistication, who themselves have many accomplishments in history and the arts, would spill a great deal of ink trying to obliterate my relatively obscure historical novels, two of which were originally published more than twenty years ago, is a mystery. Funny that "Simon," in a review of Madame Royale, accuses Trump of "choking the daylights out of the Constitution." We know that hatred of Trump brought out the dark side in a lot of people. Yet those of us who championed Trump's cause have been rewarded for our choice by the overturning of Roe. Even if one baby's life is saved it has been worth it.


Wielding the Sword of the Spirit

 From The Imaginative Conservative:

The latent nationalism of the barbarian tribes who had settled Europe always served as an internal threat to the foundations of Christendom. The church, common academic language, and common culture did much to attenuate the latent nationalism. Inklings of nationalism arose, however, in France as early as 1302 and especially in post-Reconquest Spain in the late fifteenth century. But, nationalism did not emerge full-blown until Martin Luther’s revolt against the Church in the early sixteenth century, as the barbarian “spirit of the old gods was imperfectly exorcised by the sword and…has continued to haunt the background of the German mind.”13 Following the examples of the proto-nationalists of the previous centuries—restless souls such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus—Luther more than any other figure of his age “embodies the revolt of the awakening German national spirit.”14 Like all nationalists, Luther rejected the profound depth and intricacies of Christendom–its culture and polycentric political system–and de-intellectualized “the Catholic tradition,” Mr. Dawson explained. “He took St. Paul without his Hellenism, and St. Augustine without his Platonism.”15

The French Revolution and its introduction of the infection of ideologies into the world, a disease that has yet to end, first successfully mixed nationalism and ideology. Indeed, more than any other event, the French Revolution demonstrated the need for an ideology—a pseudo-religion, created by the mind of man, rather than historically uncovered through and across the generations—to unify linguistically, culturally, and biologically diverse peoples around a central nation-state. The results, though, have been devastating, as the mix of nationalisms and ideologies has unleashed “the powers of the abyss—the dark forces that have been chained by a thousand years of Christian civilization and which have now been set free to conquer the world,” Mr. Dawson believed. “For the will to power is also the will to destruction, and in the last event it becomes the will to self-destruction.”16 Or, as Mr. Dawson bravely stated at a peace conference in Italy, just prior to World War II, with Hermann Goering attending as the German representative, “The relatively benign nationalism of the early Romantics paved the way for the fanaticism of the modern pan-racial theorists who subordinate civilization to skull measurements and who infuse an element of racial hatred into the political and economic rivalries of European peoples.”17 Certainly, the vast killing fields of the twentieth-century ideological terror regimes has proven Mr. Dawson’s analysis correct. (Read more.)


Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Tea & Restoration 

 From Victoria:

When Lauren Ackerman, co-founder of Ackerman Family Vineyards, was looking for a property in which to promote her acclaimed wines within the Napa city limits, she came upon a nineteenth-century Queen Anne Victorian in need of rescue. When she stepped inside and saw that the home’s original details were still intact, she was immediately smitten and bought it. A massive, five-year restoration followed—interrupted by an earthquake in 2014—but upon completion, this truly magnificent achievement was christened the Ackerman Heritage House. Lauren’s refined touch starts at the front gate, which bears her vineyards’ signature logo: an elegant letter A and a horse (Lauren is an accomplished equestrian) entwined with grape vines. Crumbling concrete steps were replaced with era-correct wooden ones, and the original handrails—found stashed beneath the house—were returned to their rightful place. Lauren used a period-appropriate color palette for exterior paint. (Read more.)


Bannon Speaks Out After Sentencing

 From Human Events:

 On Friday, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon joined Charlie Kirk to discuss his four-month prison sentence handed down by a DC judge earlier that morning. Walking Kirk through the morning’s decision, Bannon said, "I respect the judge, I respect the court, respect the process. You know, he laid out in his summary the four areas of appeal, we’re going to appeal in four different segments."

Bannon continued on to stress the importance of voting on Nov. 8 to "render judgment on the illegitimate Biden regime."

"Steve… what drives you to keep going?" Kirk asked. "You’ve been attacked from every possible direction, from the Muller investigation to the Senate Intelligence Committee, to the state of New York, to the Department of Justice, and you just keep fighting and you’re focused solely on election day as the Democrats’ judgment day." (Read more.)


Autocracy and America

 From PJB at The American Conservative:

In the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden declared to the nation and world: "We are engaged anew in a great battle for freedom. A battle between democracy and autocracy." On her trip to Taiwan, Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed Biden: "Today, the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. America's determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and in the world remains iron-clad." But is this truly the world struggle America is in today? Is this the great challenge and threat to the United States? Are autocracy and democracy in a climactic ideological crusade to determine the destiny of mankind? For if that is the future, it is surely not America's past.

Indeed, in the two-century rise of the United States to world preeminence and power, autocrats have proven invaluable allies. When the fate of the Revolution hung in the balance in 1778, the decision of an autocratic French king to enter the war on America's side elated Gen. George Washington, and French intervention proved decisive in the 1781 Battle of Yorktown that secured our independence. A decade later, King Louis XVI would be overthrown in the French Revolution and guillotined along with Queen Marie Antoinette.

In World War I in 1918, the U.S. sent millions of troops into battle in France. They proved decisive in the victory over the kaiser's Germany. Our allies in that Great War? The British, French, Russian, Italian and Japanese empires, the greatest imperial and colonial powers of that day. In our war with Japan from 1941 to 1945, our foremost Asian ally was the autocrat Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek of China. In our war with Hitler's Germany, America's crucial ally who did more fighting than any other to ensure victory, the USSR's Joseph Stalin, was the greatest tyrant of his age. (Read more.)


From the Real Downton Abbey to the Tomb of Tutankhamun

 From Lady Carnarvon:

This story of treasure and tragedy is so well known through school syllabuses, books and films, but Carnarvon’s role is not so well documented. Thus, we were seeking both to create an experience and a fun day out to share the story. The arrival story began with two wonderful camels, Max and Clio who were undoubtedly the celebrities of the day. Other displays explored the 5th Earl’s interests, early aviation, early cars, and we created our own sandy excavation site with re-enactors and of course there was music and dancing – Egyptian themed. To further our understanding Professor Joann Fletcher and Dr Daniela Rosenow offered fascinating talks, thank you.

The 5th Earl was something of an invalid for so much of his life but his personal motto anticipated that of Winston Churchill – Never Give Up. He was a skilled motorist and enthusiast for early motorcars so we had an exhibition of some wonderful early cars and motorbikes. Fascinated by the concept of aeroplanes, the 5th Earl provided premises and space for the early efforts of Geoffrey Moore Brabazon, Geoffrey de Havilland and Charles Voison hence the History of Flight tent and historic aircraft.

An outstanding photographer, Lord Carnarvon applied his skills to archaeology or motor racing, scenes of life or early planes, building a studio and a dark room in the Castle. We do not have the Nile or sadly even a river to pretend, but we offered various pathways lined with facts about the Nile, and our own pyramids of sorts -tepee tents – filled with activities for children. (Read more.)

Monday, October 24, 2022

Formed by Tradition: On Veils

 From The Missive:

We receive Tradition as a holy gift, treasure it, and pass it on to those who come after us. We realize, in humility, that in the long run, Tradition will judge us and that it is really not for us to pass judgement on Tradition. Traditio sacra sacrorum tuitio. Sacred tradition is a safeguarding of sacred things, and more importantly, of being safeguarded by them. For those who are still being formed by Tradition – a formation that can indeed fill a lifetime – it may be hard to understand why it is so important for women to wear veils in church.

Let me begin with an experience that occurred to me some years ago now. Once, when I stopped for gas at a roadside convenience store, the attendant at the cash register saw me in my cassock and asked, completely at a loss, “What’s with…???” and motioned up and down with her hands to indicate that she was referring to my garb. She didn’t even know what to call it. At that time I was still a seminarian, and I explained to her that I was hoping to become a priest.

When we see a policeman or a soldier or a nurse, for example, we know who they are by the way they are dressed. And I hope that when you get ready to come to church, you dress with church in mind: you realize a distinctiveness in being in church. It is not like going anywhere else.

Proper attire for a woman, according to the Tradition given to us clearly by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 and confirmed by Pope St. Linus, who was the second pope, right after St. Peter, is to wear a veil or head covering while in church. I have noticed that men tend to be good in observing the rule that applies to them, namely, that they should not wear a hat in church. I hope that if you saw someone wearing a baseball cap or a fishing hat in church, you would realize that this is not appropriate and indicate in some way to him that he needs to take it off.

Now, you might be wondering why a priest wears a biretta in church and could wear one even during the sermon. Some Fraternity priests do. The answer is that the biretta is a sign of office; a much more striking sign of a higher office is the bishop’s mitre, which he does wear when he preaches.

Dear faithful who are ladies, what I hope you will find in wearing the veil is that you have a particularly strong awareness of where you are, that you are focused completely on Our Lord and not worried about external appearance. (Read more.)

Tea at Trianon has has several posts on headcoverings, including HERE and HERE. A fabulous post, HERE.


Flannery O’Connor: Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Ayn Rand

 I did enjoy The Fountainhead, by the way. Ayn was a good storyteller as long as you resist the seduction of her philosophy. From Open Culture:

In a letter dated May 31, 1960, Flannery O’Connor, the author best known for her classic story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (listen to her read the story here) penned a letter to her friend, the playwright Maryat Lee. It begins rather abruptly, likely because it’s responding to something Maryat said in a previous letter:

I hope you don’t have friends who recommend Ayn Rand to you. The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.

The letter, which you can read online or find in the book The Habit of Being, then turns to other matters. (Read more.)