Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Chris

A friend of mine will turn the ripe old age of 34 next week.

In his honour, I offer an alternative to the usual Happy Birthday song (that no one really likes). This one has the advantage of a simple rhyme scheme so that even after five or six pints, it's easy to come up with more verses. It comes to us through the shady mists of time from deep in my very misspent and exceedingly entertaining past.


Now you've reached the age you are,
your demise cannot be far
Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday!

Doom, destruction, and despair
People dying everywhere
Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday!

Typhoid, plague and polio
Coffins lined up in a row

Black Death has struck your town
You yourself feel quite run-down


It is sung to the tune of the "Volga Boatmen", an excellent version of which by the late great Paul Robeson I offer here for practice. It's sometimes difficult to get the minor key, but this is crucial in order to create the atmosphere of utter hopelessness and despair, resignation to a lifetime of misery upon which the Russian culture is founded.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Week of Christian Unity indeed!

Holy shahmoley!!

A friend notes:

Benedict has now reconciled more people to the Church in two years than JPII did in two decades.

Well wasn't going to mention it.

* ~ * ~ *

--- On Fri, 1/30/09, Steve Skojec wrote:

From: Steve Skojec
Subject: Is it just me?
To: Hilary
Received: Friday, January 30, 2009, 9:10 AM

Or does all this unifying make you think that the end of the world is coming faster than even we had expected and the pope knows it?


I was discussing with a friend the other day whether God has a sense of humour. He is a theology grad student so he had to give the "right" answer. He said, not really. Not like ours. He likes to make us laugh so He does funny stuff like ducks and giraffes. But He doesn't laugh Himself.

I thought that was bosh. Ducks are naturally comical. He must be laughing.

Ducks on ice.

Can anyone figure out what this woman is blithering about?

My mind was thrown back to 1990, coming round from the anaesthetic after having my abortion, and that overwhelming sense of failure, failure as a human being and failure as an artist. If only I had known then that I would have my drawings hanging up in the Tate; not giant dominant works of art, but delicate, spindly line drawings that are so recognisably mine.

This morning, my friend emailed me, saying: "I met a 58-year-old woman who was very happy, really genuinely deep-rootedly happy, and I said to her: 'Why?' And she said, 'Because I have never had an abortion, that's why I can live without having children'. She said she had tried to have kids but had never got pregnant."

I emailed him back, saying: "My Dad said I must never have another abortion, because after three you start going mad. I've had two and I'm borderline. As it is, no one has ever wanted to have a child with me.

"Makes me feel cynical when I think about making love, and I sometimes have to ask: what is love? I would have been so much happier had I not had the abortions, but I truly believe that I would have been so much unhappier if I had had the children."

"failure as an artist"?

It reminds me of something.

Ah. Yes.

It reminds me of a Mass I went to on Sunday night at St. Peter's. There was some Cardinal celebrating. It was all in Italian (and it was the NO) so I didn't trouble myself much over trying to understand his homily. But I certainly recognised the style. He liked very much the sound of his own voice booming out of the speakers and bouncing off all the marble of that enormous place. He liked to start soft...softysoftysofty...then would suddenly and dramatically start booming his main point...followed by softysoftysofty...Boombooombooommmm BOOOMMM...

And he went on in this vein for a good fifteen minutes, while I struggled with the urge to start shouting. ("Can we go now?" "No." "What if I were to start shouting, could we go then?")

I thought, 'No, I don't really need to understand the words. I know perfectly well what he is saying.'

He was saying the same thing this strange woman is saying about the aftermath of having murdered her children:


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oh yeah? Well, you're politicising Eucharist!

For those who just can't take any more news about the cephalopod threat, a little commentary on the End of the World as we Know It from some Evil Rightwing Bloggers that should cheer you right up.

They're responding to Mr. Kmiec's crybaby snivelling article on the election and Catholics.

It's kinda long, and not really brilliant analysis. Just more or less what you'd expect from applying common sense and having...oh yeah...The Faith. Personally, I don't quite know what everyone's getting all hoity-toity about. It's just the same old Stockholm Syndrome blather from the left. And it's not like Kmiec hasn't distinguished himself in this vein before.

The ocean is wet.

The sky is big.

Leftist Catholic academics are in league with Stan and are working to destroy Western Civilisation, home baking, motherhood, and All Good Things.


But of course, the 'bloggers are all uproary about it (as if it's a slow news week). It's almost as if some people object to being called "rightwing". Weird. Next you'll hear them whining about being called "racists" by British parliamentarians.

Yes. I'm sure that most of the people who hang out with me here are sick of hearing about it ('More funny duck videos!' I can hear you saying), but in case we've picked up anyone new lately, here's Hilary's Theory of Leftist Political Pseudo-Proliferism in 5000 words or more.

And, be sure to see my in-depth analysis below:
+This is a response to Pepperdine Professor Douglas Kmiec’s "A Tangled Web: the Election & the Blogosphere," which appears in the January 16 issue of Commonweal. We begin with a few general observations, followed by some exploration of them:

§ Mr. Kmiec is openly and unabashedly mesmerized by Barack Obama.
§ Mr. Kmiec’s understanding of his obligations regarding his Catholic faith has been completely distorted by and subjugated to his hero-worship of Obama.
§ A double standard is employed throughout this article. Mr. Kmiec repeatedly deplores what he apparently considers to be savage, personal attacks against him, yet as he deplores this, uses pejorative language which is equally inflammatory.
§ One of Mr. Kmiec’s two themes is that “right-wing bloggers” (see: pejorative language) have politicized his support of Obama, using the abortion issue to “drive a wedge” between the Vatican and the new administration. Yet it is Mr. Kmiec himself who attempts to politicize the issue.
§ The second of Mr. Kmiec’s themes is that he is a victim of “right-wing bloggers.”
§ Mr. Kmiec has also politicized the Eucharist.

I. Hero Worship

II. A Double Standard and the Victim Mentality
This piece may be accurately characterized as one long howl of indignation and hurt at being challenged, questioned and called names, as if Kmiec’s purity of character and motives are above reproach. The writer’s choice of terms to describe his critics’ behavior is revealing: “animosity,” “unrelenting personal attacks,” “lack of civility,” “highly concentrated rhetorical venom,” “tormentors,” “personal contempt,” “vilification,” “scurrilous remarks,” “demonizing me,” “blog calumnies,” and of course, the ever-popular “right-wing bloggers.”

The criticism of Mr. Kmiec stems from one thing and only one thing: his public and insistent infidelity to his faith. There is nothing “political” about this infidelity, yet Mr. Kmiec attempts to make it political. So who is politicizing the issue?

IV. The Sacred Deposit of Personal Waivers
Mr. Kmiec admits that “FOCA runs contrary to the pursuit of the common good,” yet this fails to diminish his fervor for Obama, as if Obama’s repeated promises regarding this demonic legislation were a minor exception to an otherwise commendable platform. He further glosses over the barbaric horror of FOCA by dismissing Obama’s commitment as a “one-time pledge of support.” Kmiec has also stated, elsewhere, that he believes Obama wants to reduce the number of abortions.

Reduce the number of abortions? How is that reflected in this statement, which went up on the White House website as soon as Obama was sworn in?

Note also that although Mr. Kmiec admits that FOCA “runs contrary to the common good,” he fails to acknowledge that it is anathema to Catholic teaching, which just happens to be the foundation of the common good. Not only fails to acknowledge it, but then has the temerity to state that he voted for Obama because of his Catholic faith! What Catholic faith is it, Mr. Kmiec, that can so casually ignore the very core of Obama’s professional life: his affirmation of the culture of death? And what Catholic faith is overridden by an “alluring gift of inspiration”?

Kmiec cites Archbishop Burke’s description of the Democratic Party as “the party of death” for its embrace of abortion, but instead of taking this to heart, Kmiec finds it “hurtful” to his father and to “millions of...lifelong Democrats.” In other words, the affirmation of Catholic teaching, and His Excellency’s solicitousness for souls, is now “hurtful” and a source of resentment! This is the selfsame attitude of the homosexual radicals, who find Catholic teaching about their disorder to be offensive, hateful, and discriminatory.

V. The Eucharist as a Weapon?
Mr. Kmiec’s response to every corrective action and teaching of the Church directed at him is to take it as a severe blow to his ego and reputation, and an offense to his feelings (again, a reaction identical to that of the homosexual radicals). Thus it is predictable, though tragic, that he should describe the denial of the Eucharist as a “weapon” to punish him.


Furthermore, being denied the Eucharist is not an invitation to “discussion,” it is an invitation to Confession and penance. But rather than face this, the Professor suddenly drags those of other faiths into the picture, who “do not see themselves as bound by the Magisterium.” Why this non sequitur? When did this become a matter involving other faiths? The answer is that it never did: this is just another evasive maneuver produced by pride.


Hilary Responds:


anyone got a good illegal link to the latest episode of BSG?

Radial Symmetry: bad

Bilateral Symmetry: good.

An 'immortal' jellyfish is swarming through the world's oceans, according to scientists.


Some cnidarians are more equal than others I guess.

tx. E.S.

When I grow up,

I want to be Bernard Black


- drinking wine and smoking fags is a perfectly reasonable way to while away your life
- there's no problem so big that another glass of wine and a fag will not make it look less intimidating
- being anti-social and cranky can be made to look charming and endearing with just one more glass of wine and a fag
- owning your own bookshop beats working and is a great way to give you and your friends a place to hang out where they can drink wine and smoke fags.

"Bernard: Well, to be honest, after years of smoking and drinking, you do sometimes look at yourself and think...You know, just sometimes, in between the first cigarette with coffee in the morning to that four hundredth glass of cornershop piss at 3am, you do sometimes look at yourself and think...this is fantastic. I'm in heaven."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Second Vatican Catastrophe

Not everyone is happy about the pardoning of the bishops. The staff of The Tablet are rumoured to be on suicide watch.


Just a weeeee snippet

at taste, a tease perhaps, from my interview with Archbishop Raymond Burke yesterday:

He says (again) that the Catholic politician who votes for pro-abortion legislation and receives Holy Communion must be refused:

It’s an absolute. And rightly so because the Holy Eucharist, the most sacred reality of our life in the Church has to be protected against sacrilege, and at the same time, individuals have to be protected for the sake of their own salvation from committing one of the gravest sins, namely to receive Holy Communion unworthily.

Now that's what a Catholic bishop sounds like.

The rest coming soon to a laptop near you at


why are we so dogged on this?

Put the words "must be refused" into the LifeSite search and find out.

The Great One is Speaking! The Great One is Speaking!

No no, not him,

I mean the STEYN! Duh.

Put aside the bitter partisanship, so "childish" and "petty," and we can all be grown up about this and do the things that need to be done. The idea of a politics conducted within less ideological and more technocratic bounds is seductive. It's how things work in much of Europe: You have a choice between a left-of-center candidate and an ever so slightly right-of-left-of-center candidate, and, regardless of which one you plump for, you wind up with the same old smidgeonette right-of-left-of-right-of-left-of-center government.

The result has been to deliver a society of permanent high unemployment, unaffordable entitlements and deathbed demographics – even before the economic downturn put more immediate question marks over the future.

Lesson of the day

Don't be mean.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Visting the Vatican

Had a wonderful visit to the Apostolic Signatura today.

Like all the Vatican buildings, it is very beautiful and so much better maintained than the Italian ones. Just the general air of well-kept calm and order are a contrast to the atmosphere of chaos and decay that seems to characterize life in Rome and Italy generally. When you go extra territoriale, you know instantly you are in another country. In Vatican buildings, you will never find the cracking plaster coming off the walls in patches, no graffiti, no little piles of garbage in the corners; the lifts all work smoothly; the steps are always swept and clean; the potted plants are all healthy and the staff are always nice and helpful.

Upon entering the building, which Archbishop Burke told me was built in the 1400s, one goes through the big fifteen foot high doors and turn right into a little office where you tell a chap in a uniform your reason for being there. I noted that he wore a matching pair of pins on his lapels with the keys of Peter.

In Vatican buildings, it is always worth looking at the ceilings.

This is just a little parlour, with 15th and 16th century portraits, where one can have a quiet chat.

The main hall from which all the libraries, conference rooms, parlours and offices branch. (Sorry about the fuzzy).

The ceiling of the entrance hall. (It's less fuzzy in real life).

Archbishop Burke: a very kindly and good and holy bishop.

The halls all decorated with Ancient Stuff.

Ancient Stuff, with Pekinese. The little dog belonged, I suppose, to the chap at the door.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


There was a young queen of Naboo,
Quite a model of what not to do,
For she married a brat
(Clandestinely, at that)
And it ended in tears (as we knew).

Angry Kent said to silly old Lear:
"It's the most flaming stupid idea
To chop Britain in thirds
For these two dolly-birds,
While the third one gets kicked out of here."

Kill my father and mother? Not I!
I ran off, took a wife. Time went by.
Who's asleep in my bed?
Traitors! Kill them both! - Dead
My father and mother here lie.

The Ratzinger Effect

Interesting factoids:
I have just received the new CTS catalog. There is a full page devoted to matters of Traditional concern: an edition of the Traditional Latin Mass (in both pamphlet and bound form), a pamphlet "The Extraordinary Form of the Mass Explained" (by Fr Richard Whinder), another pamphlet "The History of the Mass Explained" (by Fr Charles Dilke of the London Oratory), and a pamphlet "Catholic Traditionalism" (by Dr Raymond Edwards).

CTS used to have an entire series devoted to the New Ecclesiastical Movements. Of these only the general pamphlet and the pamphlet on Opus Dei remain in print.

Ah, Celebrity Culture

Are we supposed to recognise these people?...

oh, wait. One of them used to be on Buffy right?

So, this is what passes for moral life in that other world eh? It's weird in the Matrix isn't it?

"I pledge to use less botttled water."



Friday, January 23, 2009

Among the stranger things about living in Rome

Is going to these gigantic museums full of baroque art and treating them like normal churches.

In the last couple of weeks, I've been going sometimes to St. Peter's for confession/vespers/Mass/adoration, all of which they have there in addition to The Baldachino, The Pieta, the bones of the popes and martyrs and assorted unimaginably precious treasures of the human race. There is often a huge queue to get in, and it is a bit of a pain to have to go all the way across the piazza, wind through the windey, twisty crowd control barriers, and go through the metal detector and then more windey/twisty stuff...but once you're in...

But some days, especially on very rainy days or early in the morning, all that can be got through very quickly. Today I got an early train into town and had a while to kill before I had to be somewhere and had a little hankering for some Adoration. They have a v. beautiful (seems completely redundant to say it. Of course it's v. beautiful. It's St. Peter's Basilica!) adoration chapel and I saw that despite it being a beautiful sunny morning, there was absolutely no queue at the metal detector so I popped in.

It felt rather strange just marching past the little clutches of tourists, with their little audio tour thingys stuck in their ears, all milling about the Pieta getting their pictures taken in front of it. But march past I did, with hardly a glance. (Honestly, once you've spent your whole life seeing the pictures and then having seen the thing itself and having had your picture taken in front of it, it loses some of the "HolyCow!that'sreallyIT" mojo.)

Past the tombs of Popes, statues of saints and more works of great western art than you can plausibly shake a stick at...

It is odd being a resident. I go to St. Peter's often because it is close by. It is (sometimes) convenient and there are still large bits of it set aside for religious purposes.

But I'm beginning to not be so weirded out at living here.

Which is slightly weirding me out.
Dale's going in for surgery today (or it could be that he's already gone...the six hour time difference is often confusing) and some people are emailing around for prayers.

Yes. I suppose. I can certainly understand Heather being worried; that's proper and good behaviour in a wife. But for the rest of us: really, for pete sake. It's laproscopic day surgery. Keyhole stuff.

Some people should really just learn to suck it up.


Ave Maria gratia plena...


(Dale: get out of bed and back to blogging you slacker!)

Repost: a year later, I still think all these things

I've discovered some things.

* A flask (in N.America, a "thermos") makes a much better tea pot than a tea pot.

* Milk from a glass pint bottle tastes better than milk from a carton or plastic bottle.

* Central heating is overrated. Our mothers were right when we were kids and wanted to turn the heat up. Put a sweater on.

* That in all the years since leaving England when the smell of tar or pitch would bring back the memory of Manchester, what I was remembering was the smell of coal fires.

* That there are different kinds of crows and the differences are not difficult to learn. The rule is that if you see two together, they're rooks. There are a lot of rooks in rural England.

* That tawny owls have two different calls at night. The female makes a kind of loud sustained squeek. This is answered by the male who gives a deep, low-pitched "Whhooo hoo" that is much more difficult to hear unless you are standing quite close.

* That oak trees are very messy trees and drop large parts of themselves on the ground all the time. Dead oak branches, although rather heavy to carry home, make excellent firewood.

* That rosehips have no pectin in them and if you want to make them in to jam or jelly, you have to add crab apples, or all you will get is rosehip syrup.

* That rosehip syrup is no bad thing.

* That there has been so much manufacturing in the last 250 years, that there is virtually no need to buy new things. If everyone in this country were to give to a needy neigbour or a church charity all the bits and pieces of furniture, household goods and clothes and other permanent things they are not using, every man woman and child in this country would be amply provided for.

The above suggestion would ruin the economy.

Which, in turn, and after a period of adjustment that would doubtless involve violence, social and political upheaval and all sorts of unpleasantness, would result in the end in people being much happier.

(I intend, as much as it is possible, to live as though this had already happened. Except for the internet, which I think would be one of the first things to go in the event of the previously mentioned upheavals.)

* That a solution to the problem of rubbish disposal, which is a subject much in the minds of Britons apparently, who are forced by a multitude of laws to support an absurdly and increasingly arcane system of "recycling" (enforced by fines), is to re-instate "home economics" as a major part of the school curriculum and teach young women the lost arts of cooking and household management. They would be able to cook real food that did not come out of a box or take-away place. They would be able to make and mend their own clothes, which would release them from slavery to fashions.

It would also result in them having more useful occupation than shopping, "texting", binge drinking and buying pre-packaged foods. They would be rendered suitable for marriage and be immune to much of the advertising enticements that hold so many of them in the thrall of "body-image" insecurity. It would also release them from the mental slavery of "modern mores" and feminism.

It would also make men happier.

This would also ruin the economy. (See note above re: "economy-ruining a good thing in the long run.")

* That spending an hour every evening staring blankly into the fire is a much more useful and beneficial occupation than spending the same amount of time staring blankly into the television. In the former occupation it is possible to have Thoughts. With the latter, it is possible only to be exhausted and rendered irritable and anxious.

* That Stephen Fry is much more likely to become a real Catholic than is Tony Blair.

* That London is much better appreciated from a picture books, say.

* That deep in the heart of many British people is a great longing for the Way Things Were but have been trained at the same time to be superficialy disdainful of the way of life they remember their parents living (no telly. no central heating. no microwaves. no free sex. no free abortion!).

* That we have come to the down slope in the manufacture-and-consume economy. We make too much stuff. We buy too much stuff. We throw away too much stuff. And the stuff we make, buy and throw away isn't worth the effort. I was taken yesterday to a place that sells "architectural antiques": antique furniture, fittings, fireplaces, apothecary bottles, flat irons, sinks, door knobs, saddles, doors, gothic marble altar pieces, copper kettles, valves, telephones, sofas, and on and on...every bit of it was more durable, more beautiful, more useful and lasting and just plain better than anything that has been made in the last fifty years. When a society starts looking at the stuff it is making (and throwing away three weeks later) and being forced to admit that not only were the things their grandfathers made better, but that they no longer knew how to make them, things are on the down slide.

* That there is no way for a woman to look good wearing jeans.

Defend Triploblastic Rights!

From Wiki:
A germ layer is a collection of cells, formed during animal embryogenesis. Germ layers are only really pronounced in the vertebrates. However, all animals more complex than sponges (eumetazoans and agnotozoans) produce two or three primary tissue layers (sometimes called primary germ layers).

Animals with radial symmetry, like cnidarians, produce two called ectoderm and endoderm, making them diploblastic. Animals with bilateral symmetry produce a third layer in-between called mesoderm, making them triploblastic.


The forces of bilateral symmetry are holding their own for now, but FOR HOW MUCH LONGER?!

How much longer before we start having radial-symmetry diversity training curricula in schools? How much longer before we start seeing hug-a-squiddy campaigns from left-leaning politicians?

How much longer before we have radially symmetrical MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT!

Open your eyes people!

They let children play on this thing!!

From the most evil website on the net

In case there are more than five people visiting this blog who may not have been following over the last five years or so, I offer an old post from The Devout Life to explain my growing concern over the cephalopod threat.

The trouble with the ocean is that things that live in it don't have to worry about gravity all that much. It just encourages the worst sort of morphological excesses.

I'm calling for a moratorium on all non-bilaterally symmetrical lifeform development and a thorough review of all planned research.

Join me in the anti-tentacle movement, before it is too late.

"I saw them come for the sperm whales, but I was not a sperm whale, so I did nothing. Then I saw them come for the walruses and other land/sea mammals, but I was exclusively a land-dweller so I didn't do anything..."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The devil must be staying up nights

A handbook for people with learning disabilities is to be produced soon by the Royal College of Nursing.

Title: "My Pregnancy: My Choice".

Abortion Logic 101

We might as well get some good out of themsince we were just going to gas abort them all anyway.

It's worth pointing out again

The sickest irony amidst the euphoria of the inauguration of America’s first black President is that one of Obama’s very first actions in office will be to ensure that millions more black babies are aborted in third world countries, with American taxpayers picking up the tab.

President Obama’s first act of “change” will be to issue an executive order that will lift a ban on using taxpayer money to fund international “family planning” groups who counsel women and perform abortions around the world, but mainly in Africa. Fresh from his complete disregard of Israel’s barbarian bombardment of Gaza, an onslaught that has killed around 400 children, Obama will ensure that potentially millions more never even get the chance of life in the first place.

Sign to fight FOCA

Well well WELL!!!

As of an hour ago, Ansa was unable to confirm that the

Pope may pardon Lefebvre's bishops

Lifting excommunication would open door to rebel group
(ANSA) - Vatican City, January 22 - Pope Benedict XVI is ready to revoke the excommunication imposed on four bishops ordained by the late dissident French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Italian press reported on Thursday.

Official sources at the Vatican would neither confirm nor deny to ANSA whether the reports printed in the dailies Il Giornale and Il Riformista were true. Msgr. Lefebvre, who died in 1991, was excommunicated in 1988 along with four bishops he ordained without permission from the Vatican.

Last summer the pope set conditions for the followers of the traditional French archbishop, who belong to the Society of Saint Pius X which he set up in 1970, to rejoin the Church of Rome.

The Fraternity responded to the overture by asking that the excommunications be lifted before any discussion of the conditions began.

But I can tell you, from inside sources in the Vatican, that the rumour is absolutely true. As of today, the SSPX bishops are no longer excommunicated.

Yes, you heard it here first folks.

...and we can hear the faint popping that is the sound of the exploding heads of the French bishops all the way from here.

Not, perhaps, best known for the sophistication of their humour

A friend just wrote to say that he saw

the comments on Damian Thompson's blog about a spat between DT and Evan Harris, and saw this one:

"I am against abortion, but when I see "Dr" Harris I waver!"

In these cases I used to say that one would look with favour at a strictly retroactive abortion, for certain individuals.

I stopped saying it when I moved to Germany, where people were utterly unable to understand that it was a joke and kept saying that "it is not possible to abort one retroactively".


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And remember,

You've got a friend in Him.

And he loves ska.

H/T to Steve. (You'll always be Evil to me, bro.)

Maher Arar a Terrorist After All

Huh. Who knew?

So, does that mean that Canadian taxpayers can have their 10 million bucks back?

the entire time he was in the Syrian prison, the Canadian officials who visited with Arar saw no signs of physical abuse. As for his condition when he got out, one Canadian eyewitness-- speaking to the Western Standard on condition of anonymity--who saw Arar in Syria only moments after his release from jail, put it this way: "If you call not being able to shower for 10 months torture, then I guess he was tortured. But from what I saw, he didn't look like he had been tortured."


a chapter titled "Background Information on the Afghanistan Camps," in which the reader is treated to a little history primer, the conclusion of which can be summarized as: just because someone might have been at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan in 1993, doesn't necessarily mean they were a terrorist.

...while all about him are losing theirs

Gerald Warner, whose acquaintance I would be honoured to make some day, seems to be immune to the spell and has ground his naked foot into the fire:

After the Blair experience there is no excuse for anybody in Britain falling for Obama. Yet today, in this country, even some of those who remained sane during the emotional spasm of the Diana aberration are pumping the air for Princess Barack. At a time of gross economic and geopolitical instability throughout the Western world, this is beyond irresponsibility.

To anyone who kept his head, the string of Christmas cracker mottoes booming through the public address system on Washington's National Mall can only excite scepticism. It is crucial to recall the reality that lies behind the rhetoric. Denouncing "those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents" comes ill from a man whose flagship legislation, the Freedom of Choice Act, will impose abortion, including partial-birth abortion, on every state in the Union. It seems the era of Hope is to be inaugurated with a slaughter of the innocents.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I'm not very good at this praying thing, but I think I like my prayers to have more...well... oomph.

In a Catholicky kind of way, you understand.

While I commend Albert Mohler for his effort, I have to say that the American Protestant language is not to my taste.

Father, protect this president, we pray. We pray that you will surround this president and his family, along with all our leaders, with your protection and sustenance. May he be protected from evil acts and evil intentions, and may his family be protected from all evil and harm...

Err...yah. Whatever.

How about something more along the lines of

Prayer for the King, taken from the Roman Missal
We beseech thee, Almighty God: that thy servant Barack, their president, who by thy mercy hath received the government of that realm, may also obtain an increase of every virtue; that, being meetly adorned therewith, he may flee from sin and iniquity, and by thy grace may attain unto thee who art the way, the truth, and the life. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

or perhaps something not so warm and fuzzy...

Almighty and everlasting God, who doth raise up kings and overthrow tyrants, do thou in thy great mercy stir up the might of thy strong right arm; that reigning in virtue and justice, thy instrument Barack might be strengthened thereby or, falling into corruption and vice he might be cast down, never more to oppress thy holy people. Per Christum Dominum nostrum...

...made that one up.

Here's one by a real prelate:

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.

Feel free to add your own.

"Obviously we need a debate"

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the research team, told the Guardian that it is now time to start considering where society stands on the issue.

"If there was a prenatal test for autism, would this be desirable? What would we lose if children with autistic spectrum disorder were eliminated from the population?" he said. "We should start debating this. There is a test for Down's syndrome and that is legal and parents exercise their right to choose termination, but autism is often linked with talent. It is a different kind of condition."

Or maybe, and this is just a suggestion, we just need to be told which disabled children it's OK to kill. It would save such a lot of time, and anyway, who is really qualified to enter into such a "debate"? Are we going to leave it up to the average Joe-on-the-street?

These things are always best decided by experts.

Maybe the British Government could appoint a board or a commission or something, like the HFEA, or the NICE, that could render decisions on which disabled children should be killed, and which ones allowed to live because they have sufficient "talents" to outweigh the burden of their disabilities.

Of course, in the case of autistic kids, we would have to wait a few years after birth to see which ones manifested "talents" and which ones didn't. Maybe we could set up government centres. At birth, send the kids who "tested positive" for the gene to the centre and have them raised there. By age of, say, three or so, we would probably be able to screen out the talentless ones.

This scheme could save a lot of emotional difficulties for the parents who, inexplicably, often develop irrational attachments to their talentless children, (whether with autism or no) and might balk after three years when it came time to face the inevitable truth.


Good idea.

Thanks Professor.

"Improving Health"

Claire O'Connell, being a journalist and therefore somewhat hard-of-thinking, seems to need help in making distinctions.

She writes that the "selection" of an embryo, resulting in the birth of a baby girl who is less likely to develop breast cancer later in life, is a matter of "improving health".

But perhaps someone could email her and ask her, "improving whose health, exactly?"

"Selecting" a child for its genetic characteristics does nothing to "improve the health" of the child. It "improves the health" of the race.

Sound familiar?

Racial hygiene (often labeled a form of "scientific racism") is the selection, by a government, of the putatively most physical, intellectual and moral persons to raise the next generation (selective breeding) and a close alignment of public health with eugenics.

Racial hygiene was historically tied to traditional notions of public health, but usually with an enhanced emphasis on heredity. The use of social measures to attempt to preserve or enhance biological characteristics was first proposed by Francis Galton in his early work, starting in 1869, on what would later be called eugenics. In the early twentieth century, the idea that human heredity required active vigilance, and perhaps coercive measures (such as compulsory sterilization) had many mainstream scientific and political supporters; Winston Churchill was an advocate, as was Alexander Graham Bell, Marie Stopes, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, Theodore Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge.

And a very happy Name Day

to one of our favourite American prelates.

Bishop Bruskewitz to Fellow Bishops on Obama: No Compromise on "Vile Intrinsic Evil Such as Abortion"

Good on ye, Bishop Bruskewitz. Keep on doing what you've been doing. We're with you.

Happy St. Fabian's day to you.

Openness, tolerance and diversity

except for when they disagree with us.

(Did I mention that I was planning to go back to pushing people's buttons a bit? I hope "Anastasia" is still listening.)

Next month's General Synod, the church's national assembly, will debate a motion calling on Anglican bishops to formulate a similar policy to that of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) on the BNP.

The Acpo policy states that no member of the police service may be a member of an organisation whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the "general duty" to promote race equality. This specifically includes the BNP, the policy states.

General Synod member Vasantha Gnanadoss, who works for the Metropolitan police service, will call for a similar ban to apply to all clergy, ordinands and employed lay persons who speak on behalf of the Church of England.

Heh. "General Synod". Truth-by-committee.

I trust they're working as hard at excluding candidates who deny the Divinity of Christ, the clear teaching of the Anglican Church on the sanctity and indissolubility of natural marriage, the right of the unborn not to be murdered by their mothers...



Silly me.

A friend is reading a book about Garrigou LaGrange

and some of it is kind of funny.

"Nor secondly is Tony Blair's personhood his existence - because existence is ascribed to Tony Blair, not as what formally constitutes his being. (Were that the case, Tony Blair would be altogether necessary to the universe - indeed, his essence would be his existence, something only true of God, which Tony Blair is not.) Rather, existence is a contingent predicate of Tony Blair. (In other words, for better or worse, Tony Blair merely happens to exist.)"

Hey, everybody! It's the week of prayer for Christian Unity

Can't imagine how I could have forgotten! The Holy Father mentioned it a lot at the Angelus on Sunday.

I asked a nice young theology major of my acquaintance to fill me in. He says:

The octave was established in the early 20th century, before the Asteroid, to pray for the conversion of all Christians to the One True Church of Christ. Although it has been embraced by the "ecumencial movement" of NewChurch, it originally had a profound theological and liturgical significance. The Octave begins on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter of Rome (now abolished...surprise) emphasizing the rock of unity upon which Church is founded. And ends on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. But whereas under the current dispensation the necessity for all people to convert is emphasized, in the unreformed Church in its original intention, the choice of the Conversion of St. Paul is a clarion call for those who are unhappily separated from Holy Mother Church to return to the one true - and only - ark of salvation.

In celebration of this noble and compassionate intention, I offer a nice Caravaggio to cheer y'all up.

Aaand, in the spirit of ecumenism, I offer some prayers for the entire week.

First Day: For the return of the ‘other sheep’ to the One Fold of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Second Day: For the return of the Eastern Orthodox Christians to communion with the Apostolic See.

Third Day: For the return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.

Fourth Day: For the return of all Protestants throughout the world to the unity of the Catholic Church.

Fifth Day: That Christians in America [or: throughout the world] may be one, in union with the Chair of Saint Peter.

Sixth Day: That lapsed Catholics will return to the Sacraments of the Church.

Seventh Day: That the Jewish people will be converted to the Catholic Faith.

Eighth Day: That missionary zeal will conquer the world for Christ.

(We're on day three. Anglican day.)

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is that all men should be saved and that none should perish, look upon the souls that are deceived by the guile of Satan, in order that the hearts of them that have gone astray may put aside all the perverseness of heresy, and, being truly repentant, may return to the unity of thy truth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Mary, Mother of mercy and Refuge of sinners, we beseech thee, be pleased to look with pitiful eyes upon poor heretics and schismatics. Thou who art the Seat of Wisdom, enlighten the minds that are miserably enfolded in the darkness of ignorance and sin, that they may clearly know that the Holy Catholic Church is the one true Church of Jesus Christ, outside of which neither holiness nor salvation can be found.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Mondays are 80s day!

Rock Lobster!

Cheer up everyone! There's still inane pop culture to turn to when you're fed up with religion.

...and I feel fine...

Like many other "conservative bloggers", I have little or nothing to say about Obama.

Nothing printable anyway. But it doesn't mean that I'm not watching.

Mike Sheep, part-time Obama cult leader at political conventions in Washington, feels abandoned by his supporters:

"I can't believe this is true. I bought thousands of these Obama buttons saying 'Vote Obama or admit you're racist' to show my support for racial eqality and dignity in America..."

Allan Lispie, a normal, white, middle class family man, who currently is building a giant concrete wall with barbed wire around his house, explains:

"I was, like every other clueless voter, captured by the godlike halo surrounding Obama. He was like a black Messiah for our family. We even bought an Obama action toy for our son, a cute little thing that, if you press a button, exclaims: 'Change-you-can-believe-in,' 'That-was-racism-I'll-have-you-arrested' or 'The-sweetest-coffee-comes-in-black-color.' But Change is only real if you feel safe. Now I'm building this gigantic wall to defend my son and wife against illegal aliens, Republicans, and followers of Scientology."

Bafflegab 2

New research published today will bring prenatal testing for autism significantly closer, prompting experts to call for a national debate about the consequences of
screening for the disorder in the womb and allowing women to terminate babies with the condition.


Of course. They're defectives and obviously we wouldn't want to let them breed and pollute the race.

But I think we should change the terminology.

"Screening"? Don't you mean "selection"?

Who's the fifth?


Ok, I have to admit, I didn't see that one coming.


Just the other day a friend of mine wrote an amusing editorial on what I like to call the "Blithering technique" of journalitics. It's not new. In fact, I'm pretty sure that if we were to read some of the vast store of cuneiform tablets that have come out of various hills and caves of the near east, we would find plenty of it all the way back to Nineveh's most recent municipal election.

It's pretty simple: Say a lot more words than you need to when you want to say something nasty.

John wrote:
Most abortionists are euphemists. By which I mean merely, to quote Chesterton, “that short words startle them, while long words soothe them. And they are utterly incapable of translating the one into the other, however obviously they mean the same thing.”

If, for instance, you say to an abortionist, “The excessive burden upon the mother, particularly in light of the rights to autonomy, privacy and reproductive freedom, of an unplanned pregnancy precludes any ethical objections to surgically removing the products of pregnancy post-viability, but prior to completion of delivery,” a gentle, indeed a radiant smile will cross his face, and he will dose off as if to a lullaby.

Say, on the other hand, in a forceful, straight-forward way, “Crush the skulls and suck out the brains of your children!” and he will leap from his seat, startled and full of objections.

But the two sentences mean precisely the same thing.

Or, if you were to say, “An analysis of the cost-benefit ratio of carrying to term a fetus found via amniocentesis to have non-disjunction of the 23rd chromosome invariably leads to the conclusion that medical resources would be better allocated by discontinuing the pregnancy,” your average abortion supporter will sway like a child borne carelessly upon the waves of a warm summer sea.

But unapologetically bellow forth the declaration, “Save money! Kill all the disabled kids!” and you will get a very different reaction indeed. But, once again, cold logic says that the two propositions propose precisely the same thing.

So, for a quick little exercise try to figure out what this man is saying and translate:
The reasons behind this difficult decision, which we did not make lightly, the note reads, can be drawn back to the a close examination of the maze of laws and the possible clashing between State and Regional authorities. Basically, the research we have done lead us to think that it is probable that, if we offer Mrs (sic) Englaro a place according to the planned procedure, the Minister might take on plans, which, however valid temporarily as regards the specific authority of the institutions involved, would put the workability of the structure at risk,

Hint: he's the director of the nursing care home that offered a place to Eluana Englaro so her father's fond wish that she be dehydrated to death could be carried out.

He's recently withdrawn the offer.

Faced with this particular, concrete future, the care home was therefore obliged to turn down its conceived offer of care which had as its only aim the logistic support necessary for Mr Beppino Englaro to carry out the wishes of his daughter.

Too much paper work involved, I suppose, in turning your old-folks home into a death camp.

So cool

Heh: killer sea squirt.

So cool!

Oh, and on the global warming front:

Record low temperatures in upper mid-west of the US last week.

Break out the sunscreen.

Thoughtcrime of the Day: Western civilization has become a vast suicide cult.

Well, yes. I think it's something we've been trying to tell people for some time.

I'm not the one who came up with the idea:

It was then that I came to realize how,
in the name of progress and compassion, the most terrible things were going to be done, preparing the way for the great humane holocaust, about which I have spoken. There was, it seemed to me, a built in propensity in this liberal world-view whereby the opposite of what was intended came to pass.

Take the case of education. Education was the great mumbo--jumbo of progress, the assumption being that educating people would make them grow better and better, more and more objective and intelligent. Actually, as more and more money is spent on education, illiteracy is increasing. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if it didn't end up with virtually the whole revenue of the western countries being spent on education, and a condition of almost total illiteracy resulting therefrom.

"Wrong thinking will be punished."

"Right thinking will be as quickly rewarded".

"You can't express views that were common currency 30 or 40 years ago," he said.

"Arguably, the parameters of what you might call 'right thinking' are probably closing.

"Sadly, along with that has come the fact that it's almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God."

Crikey! Is that all it takes to be a pariah?

Good grief! Imagine what would happen if you said you believed in the Catholic Confessional State and thought the Inquisition was a pretty nifty idea!

Ya gotta love those journalistic euphemisms

I've written so much about this in the last ten years that I can hardly stand to type the words "embryonic stem cell research" any more.

But sometimes I can still get a laugh (albeit a dark, humourless one) out of the things journalists make up on the subject.

Love this one esp:

"Human embryonic stem cell colony"

OK kids, pop quiz. What's the word for that used by people who took more than third grade science?


like a breaking egg.

From Open Europe feed:

Britain's top surgeon: the Government can alter Working Time rules "it if it has the political will"

The Sunday Telegraph reported that changes to hospital working hours which come into force this summer under the EU's Working Time Directive will be "disastrous" for patient care and result in "major service failure", according to Britain's top surgeon. John Black, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, issued a warning that the National Health Service will not be able to cope with the effects of the controversial European Working Time Directive.

The paper noted that from August, hospitals face heavy fines if they allow any health care staff, including surgeons, to work more than 48 hours a week, despite warnings from hospitals that they are not able to make the change. "With nobody able to work more than 48 hours a week from August, the effects on patient care in the NHS are potentially disastrous," Mr Black said.

So, socialism created the National Health, and, like every similar system in the world, it is now proving to be a monster money-sucker, totally unwieldy and impossible to admininster adequately. People are commenting everywhere on the decay of hospitals, of service, of nursing, of long wait lists and the politicization of medical practitioners.

Now the EU steps in and adds a rule that the supine, bootlicking British government will follow slavishly, and that will bring the whole thing down.


I put on my surprised face.

"So the question is,

where do we go from here?"

Yes, yes, I've heard that IT has been revealed but I haven't seen it yet. It's loading as I type.

If anyone tells me who it is, I will digitize myself and I will email myself to your phone, and leap from the phone line down your throat and strangle you.


And so it starts

Obama Administration reportedly plans to fund Chinese policies through UN population fund

While the United States has in the past opposed China's "family planning" policy, the relationship is expected to change radically with the upcoming Obama administration.

President-elect Obama has criticized the U.S. government's refusal to promote population-control methods such as sterilization, contraception, and abortion worldwide in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Friday, January 16, 2009

And another damn thing...

"It is, unfortunately, rare for American seminarians to have a proper grounding in Latin, which, as well as being of use for the liturgy, is indispensable if students are to have the ability to consult primary theological sources."

Nothing to see here...

Vatican finds U.S. seminaries in overall good health

Yes, everything's juuuuust fiiiiiine. Move along.

One wonders if any of these journalists actually read the document in question past the first three sentences.

Oh, wait.

Silly me.

As part of my ongoing attempts to become a better Catholic, I'm trying to learn to be helpful. So in the interests of helping the less fortunate, I offer an interpretation of Vaticanese for the benefit of above mentioned hard-of-thinking types out there looking to produce some copy.

The Final Report on the Vatican Visitation of US Seminaries, in essence, says the following:

Fire people more often
"In almost all the places, there are procedures fr removing a superior or teacher who fails in his or her duties. Nevertheless, in consideration of various problems in respect to doctrinal teaching, it appears that these procedures are not invoked as often as they should be."

By "the priesthood" we don't include a lot of New Age/feminist/egalitarian bull---- about 'the priesthood of the people' any more than we do about the "Magisterium of the laity". We mean the actual priesthood. You know, that guy who wears the polyester poncho in front of the big wooden table every Sunday... Got it?
Many seminaries are also involved in the theological education of the laity. Most institutes concerned try to separate the two study paths. Nevertheless, a clear distinction between the essential activity of the seminary - the formation of
candidates for the priesthood - and other peripheral activities - principally, the
theological formation of the laity - is sometimes made difficult either because of a lack of theological clarity about the distinction between the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood, or else because of the high number of lay students frequenting the institute.

In a few seminaries, the clear distinction between the common priesthood and the ministerial, hierarchical priesthood needs to be emphasized more. Problems can also arise when the seminary aims at offering a theological education to all - seminarians and laity - for, unless proper safeguards are put in place, the seminary can lose much of its finality, which is to offer a specifically priestly [emphasis in the original. HW.] formation to men chosen by the Church to embark on the path to Holy Orders.

And, no, we are not soon going to change our minds about ordaining women, so you can stop dancing around the whole issue RIGHT NOW, and stop treating it as if it's "just a job that anyone can do".
It was also noted that, in some academic centers run by religious, there is a certain reticence, on the part of both students and teachers, to discuss the priestly ministry. Instead, there is a preference for discussing simply "ministry" - in the
broad sense, including also the various apostolates of the laity - in part, perhaps, as a mistaken attempt not to offend those who judge the reservation of the Sacrament of Orders to men alone as discriminatory.

In some institutes, however, one has the impression that the students, while not denying any point of doctrine on the priesthood, have an incomplete grasp of the full breadth of the Church's teaching in this area. The students have an idea of priestly service, but teachings such as on the character impressed by the Sacrament of Orders, on the nature of sacra potestns, on the tria munera, etc., are not so well known. This leads to a theologically poor, functionalistic image of the priesthood.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I wish I were Homer Simpson

I wrote a bunch of (OK, two) reviews of that Superman movie last year where I blithered a lot about how it was all just a cheap secularist/materialist/Neitzchean knock-off of the Gospel of John. And I took about 1200 words to do it.

But, as usual, Homer manages to do it in a single sentence made up mostly of monosyllables:

“I'm not normally a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me, Superman!”

Wondering what to do with your life?

Try something that almost no one else does.

If you contact David Clayton, who teaches art at Oxford, he might help you. David Clayton

David Clayton: parlo di me
Chi sono:
David Clayton teaches iconography, Western classical naturalism and art theory.

He is trained in both Byzantine iconographic and Western naturalistic traditions which he studied in Florence. He has had commissions in both the UK and in the US including a portrait of St Luigi Scrosoppi at the London Oratory; a 5ft cross, gilded and painted on both sides and suspended over the altar at Pluscarden Monastery in Scotland; and the icon of the Sacred Heart commissioned by the Maryvale Institute to commemorate their 25th anniversary.

He has designed the programme for ResSource School of Art and worked closely with staff at the Maryvale Institute in the design of their theory-of-art course. The ResSource art programme is partly designed as the practical extension of the Maryvale Institute theoretical course. David has also been an occasional feature writer for The Catholic Herald.

Thanks Mary.

Name Day Lazy Blogger Resolutions

I, like my erstwhile friend and mentor David Warren, do not believe in making 'resolutions' in the post-modern sense. Most particularly am I averse to making "New Year's Resolutions". Such things are pagan and, as Warren points out, doomed to failure anyway.

The resolutions you can still remember on Jan. 3 are the ones you should probably have left off the list. They are the droning resolutions, the tedious resolutions, the mean stoical scraping resolutions that everyone makes, in moments of unseriousness: lose weight, give up smoking, spend less, drink no tequila.

What is the point of such resolutions? They only make us miserable and neurotic. There is enough misery and neurosis to go round. Nine cases in 10 you will fail anyway. Or if there was more than one such item on your list: 10 cases in 10.

I have to admit to having drunk tequila in the past, and, in kinship with many others, after a certain experience deep in the past that was memorable to everyone present but myself, have not touched it in years. There are other things of that sort here and there. I have not read a great deal of cheap scientifiction since leaving my twenties, for example.

But resolutions of the sort recommended by Mr. Warren
I will take up drawing; I will master the flute; I will read Shakespeare; I will listen to Bach; I will keep a commonplace book; I will learn to cook; I will learn to dance; I will take my children on picnics; I will write love letters to my wife; I will give money in secret; I will volunteer at a hospital; I will visit at a prison; I will go to church every Sunday.

are of the sort that I think can and should be made regularly, not just saved to the end of the year. It is, of course, to be remembered that these more positive, and even occasionally salvific resolutions are also mostly doomed to failure, but they at least do not reek of the kind of cynicism that characterises the others. And, in accordance with the doctrines of St. Philip Neri and his disciples, it is better to choose something positive and keep doggedly trying to do it, even in the face of repeated failure, than take on, and then inevitably abandon, vague and impossible tasks out of ill-informed guilt.

Today is the feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers, the bishop who was one of the very few who refused to deny the divinity of Christ at the height of the Arian crisis. He is, therefore, a saint not only for our times but for our particular ecclesial troubles. He is also a good saint for stubborn and willful people, to show us that being stubborn and willful can be put to good and holy uses.

A good day to decide to use one's stubborn willfulness to some good end.

That I must stop doing a number of things that are spiritually or physically harmful, though enjoyable, more or less goes without saying by anyone living on planet earth, and so are not really worth mentioning here. But aren't there, for all of us, all sorts of things that have remained undone? Neglected? And for the most paltry and measly reasons.

Why, for example, have I not done any drawing in years? I live in Italy and am surrounded daily by some of the world's greatest works of art and architecture?

Why have I not worked on my novel in a year?

Why have I not started making that tweed suit that I've been thinking of for three years?

How long has it been since I've done any knitting?

More immediately, how come I've stopped writing anything interesting on the blog? It's been four years on this site, with occasional breaks, and I was just looking back on some older posts and noticed that I used to write things.

I was complaining yesterday that I've not really been writing lately. What I do for a living involves words, but it is not really writing. Just data gathering, really. So what happened? Did I just run out of ideas?

I have nothing more to offer as excuse than "I'm busy." Busy doing what? If I were being honest, I would say, "Busy pfaffing about on the internet."

So, I would like first to apologise to my little clutch of readers who have been with me for years (Andrew, BillyHW, Dale, Six-Bells John, the 3 Roberts, Nick T., Evil Steve et al) for having been...well...boring in the last year or so. You're a great bunch of chaps, so I know you're all going to say nice things like "Oh, you've been doing all sorts of things, moving to other countries, dealing with big personal stuff," etc. and of course, you're right. But I've just read Steve's little New Year's Resolution post (which, true to Lazy Blogger form was posted on January 5th)

Bit by bit, I’m building back some blogging momentum. It feels sort of like putting on a pair of old sneakers after you’ve been wearing the new ones for a while - strange, but oddly familiar.

and I have to say, "What he said."

A lot has changed around this site over the last couple of years. I changed from being The Devout Life and having pictures of saints in the sidebar, from writing about religion and The Meaning of Life, to embracing my secular side and mostly posting photos and little snippy comments about the news, watched over on the sidebar by the elder gods of English satirical writing. I thought I'd make a transition, away from "Catholic blogging" to more general writing on a broader variety of things. But I've really sort of fallen from the true Blogger Way. I've gone from being fairly prolific to the blogger version of sleepwalking and "phoning it in". And I can't claim busyness. It's sheer laze and apathy.

So, in honour of St. Hilary, the Scourge of the Arian heretics, I think I'm going to write more here. Have a bit more fun, get in a bit more trouble, stir things up a bit. Maybe it will be like the good old days.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Prayer Request Update

This just in via email:

We have learned that the girl and her parents have decided against abortion. Thank God, and you for your prayers!

A priest in South Carolina emails a theology student in Rome who tells his friend with a blog who posts a prayer request. A reader friend of hers sends the blog post to his email list from which a nice couple in California decide to act. They email the friend who texts the blogger while she's on the train home with two friends who get on their mobiles from the train and start phoning people back in the US, who put the California couple in touch with the priest in South Carolina.

Putting the Faith and technology together.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bronze: It's Zeitgeisty

Novus Ordo Bronze Orientation Day

"Don't be afraid of the vernacular bronze"

The Novus Ordo is your friend. The new Mass is user-friendly, multi-purpose, zeitgeisty, exciting. And most importantly of all, it's slightly shiny.

"Secular Action"

Could we have a definition please?

Could an atheist bus campaign mobilise Ireland's non-believers into secular action, asks Elaine Edwards

JUST AS SOME people were perhaps considering turning to religion to sustain them through doom and depression, a group in Britain this week put up posters with a discouraging message: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Kind of like Catholic Action?...

oh, wait. No. Catholic Action is dead.

Oh please Lord, in Your infinite mercy,

don't let these people help us.

I think I'm going to need a new file label.

The Working Group on Human Dignity established by EU Parliament

An oldie but a goodie: Thirty things I don't care about

I posted this at the Secret Blog a couple of years ago after I got tagged by Jeff Culbreath. You will note that I didn't make it to thirty things. I'm taking this as a sign that I need to become more complacent. As part of this endeavour, I've vowed not to care about liturgy or learn anything about it. It's not easy, hanging about in the crowd I see, but I'm working on spreading apathy and a dedication to talking about the weather wherever I eat lunch.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Jeff has tagged me, (admittedly, only after I whined about never getting tagged) in his Thirty Things that Don't Bother Me meme.

I like memes. It's like Sharing, only less socially awkward. A few months ago, I was having a chat with Paul Tuns, the edior of the Interim, the "last conservative paper in Canada" (according to Conrad Black), and he (Paul, not Conrad) was telling me that he and Kathy Shaidle were doing a Ten Things I Don't Care About meme. I thought it was a cute idea and started a list of my own.

Strangely, I fizzled on it.

It's because, well... it's hard to think of stuff you don't really care about, because you don't really think much about things you don't think about...if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I told Jeff that thirty's a lot, especially for someone like me who's known to be a bit highly charged about quite a few things, but I'll have a go. (Some of these are a bit Canadian, so bear with, if you don't live above the 49th.)

Things that don't really bother me:

1. The Vocations Crisis - there isn't one.

2. Canada - see note above re: vocations crisis.

3. Global Warming - warmer winters? longer summers? sounds pretty good to a Canuckistani.

4. Women's Rights - actually I do care about this, it's just that I think we should have fewer of them.

5. Canadian Politics - tough to care about the politics of something that doesn't really exist.

6. The Canadian Catholic Church - as note one above.

7. Liturgical Abuses in the Novus Ordo - Can't corrupt something that is itself a corruption.

8. Genetically Modified Foods - humans have been genetically modifying the food they grow for ten thousand years. Too late to worry about it now.

9. The Sex Abuse Scandal - fags do what fags do; if you put a bunch of yippity-skip nancy-boys in the Church, that's what they will do.

10. The Environment - nature is stronger than us. Oxford says: "Environment, n. Surrounding; surrounding objects, region, or circumstances." sounds like the sort of thing that will be there no matter what.

11. Islam - it's a false religion. Truth always the end.

12. Racism - it's been with us a long time; not going away soon.

13. the Role of the Laity - pay, pray and obey gives us plenty to do.

14. the Modern Dissolution of the Religious Orders - no point saving a house that's already riddled with termites. The sooner it goes down, the less threat it poses to the neighbourhood. With the anti-nuns: the sooner they die off, the sooner we get their stuff.

15. the Motu Proprio - if it comes before the Parousia, we're ahead, I figure. [HJW: Yayayayayayaaaaayyyyy...which is the only liturgical comment I feel qualified to make]

16. University Dropouts - a sign of mental health if you ask me.

17. Catholics who don't want to move and shake - also disparagingly called 'pew-sitters.' We need more non-activist Catholics. People got enough to think about without obsessing over encyclicals.

18. Ladies who don't want to work/go into politics - Kittens and embroidery, as well as gardening, homeschooling, sewing, pie-making, and watercolour landscape painting are all under-represented in the unpaid labour market.

19. Modern "Art" - the only people who pay for it are corporations and it is only seen in art galleries that only stupid people go to. What's the loss? Beauty is like truth and nature; they're stronger than our stupidity and tend to make comebacks.

20. Gay Rights/Feminism/Demographic Implosion - a problem that is naturally taking care of itself without me having to lift a finger.

21. The Pandas - (or cute endangered species of your choice)- people don't want to save the pandas; they want to keep feeling the Cuteness Thrill and worry they will lose it when the cute animals go away. Plenty of cute furry animals around to trigger the response. Besides, any animal that refuses to reproduce and only eats one kind of food deserves to get voted off the genetic island.

22. The Coming Persecution of the Last of the Faithful Catholics - can't think of an easier way to go to heaven than at the point of a commie rifle. cf. Miguel Pro.

23. Anglicanism - I write a lot about the 'coming Anglican schism'. It almost always makes me giggle.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Vatican Museums, Baroque Churches and Ancient Rome

My wonderful friend Vicky came to visit for a week, (part of the reason there has been a scarcity of posts here) and we took her for the Rome Starter Kit tour: St. Peter's, S.Clemente, The Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon and the Vatican Museums which culminate in a nightmarishly crowded glimpse of the Sistine Chapel.

Oratory groupies the world over will recognise this one. The copy in the Chiesa Nuova isn't a patch on the real thing. I stood in front of it mesmerized for ten minutes until I had to be dragged away.

I'm told that part of its extreme realism comes from the fact that Caravaggio could not paint from the minds eye, but had to use living models.

I could not help looking at this one and humming "Iiiit's the faaaal of Aaaaancient Rome...the Laocoon hacked to bits with an axe..."

The Pantheon piazza in "winter". I did actually wear my big Canadian woolly winter coat, but just because it seems the expected thing to do here...when in Rome...

Ancient stuff. A good idea of the rising of the street level since Imperial times. All the ancient stuff is accessible by steps downward.

Vicky and the incredibly cool perspectivey ceiling in St...
one of the Jesuit churches near the Pantheon.

(they tell me it has something to do with math.)

Vicky loved the ancient stuff.

The Ratzinger Effect in action? The "Benedictine" altar arrangement on the high altar in the Pantheon.

Now there's a faldstool cover.

The best preserved of all ancient Roman buildings, is so because while it was still merely "old", the Church paid to have it turned into a church.

Me pretending to talk on my mobile. "No no, I'm sure they said it was the Parthenon...and ooooo look! you can see right out the hole...What? Can...can you hear me? You're breaking up...You sound like you're standing at the bottom of a well in a crowd of angry geese..."

Vicky touching the ancient bronze doors.

Cats in the Torre Argentina, steps away from the spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated.

Vicky told me she wanted to see Baroque art. Well, we were able to oblige her.

...and ancient stuff.

Look what I found!

Self and Chris Wells, who served heroically as tour guide and pack horse for Vicky's bags all week.

Chris told us that the medieval engineers who shored it up with bricks, did so in the barest nick of time. These cracks were there at the time. It was literally falling down as they were building.

The area in the foreground is the ancient gladiator school attached to the Flavian Amphitheatre.

Arch of Constantine.

The apse of the nave in S. Clemente, one of Rome's most venerable basilicas.

Vicky with a Bernini angel growing out of the top of her head.

Very rainy day, best spent in the world's largest church.

The big disk of red marble just inside the main doors of St. Peter's is called porphyry and was regarded in the ancient world as one of the most precious substances, akin in value to gold. To give an idea of its value, the mausoleum of the empress Helena, which is in the Vatican museum, is made of porphyry. This disk was that upon which the Emperor Charlemagne stood when he was crowned Imperator Augustus by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800.

I found it quite depressing actually. When we came in, a group of teenagers were milling around on it, gawping. I wanted to chase them out with knotted cords.

Holy water stoup in St. Peter's. To give an idea of the scale, if the angels were to stand up straight, they would be over six fee tall.

The archangel Gabriel announcing the birth of Christ to the shepherds in St. Peter's nativity scene.

Marble lace in St. Peter's

This is not Pope Joan.

Angels on the Baldachino. St. Peter's, I'm told, was designed to have the prespective be somewhat deceptive. It is supposed to look smaller than it actually is. To give an idea, a grown man can walk between the angels' legs without stooping.

Exciting angled shot that I took surreptitiously. We were in the part of the Basilica that is actually used as a church, waiting for Vespers to begin, and you're not supposed to be taking pictures. Vespers was very good. Novus Ordoed, but all in Latin with the proper Christmas antiphons and fairly good chant.

The little Bavarian medieval Madonna in front of the Holy Father's altar brings things back to a human scale.