Monday, November 30, 2009

Suppress Everything Now!

This just in from a loyal reader:
Did you see that the head of the Pontifical Council for Migration, Antonio Maria Sveglio, told the ANSA that the Vatican agrees with the Swiss bishops conference in denouncing the ban on minarets in the Switzerland? He's a bishop of course.


He offers a solution:
SUPPRESS EVERYTHING!!! NOW!!!
[Caps in the original]

I believe I have mentioned that one of my little axioms in life, along with "never join anything," is "abolish everything".

I note that while this perhaps could be considered a little drastic, a case might be made for the Holy Father to consider suppressing the Swiss Bishops' Conference after this:

Catholic bishop calls for married priests
A Swiss bishop says that married men should also be allowed to be priests in the Catholic Church and that celibacy should be voluntary.

Norbert Brunner, who takes over as head of the Swiss Bishops Conference at the start of next year, told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that most Swiss bishops were in favour of the move.

"There should be the possibility of making married men priests," Brunner said.

There was no fundamental link between celibacy and the priesthood, maintained the Bishop of Sion, but added that it should remain a choice for those who wanted it.

Brunner said that the Swiss bishops were "quite unanimous" in their support.

He had proposed the move to Rome several times, but admitted that he had, as yet, been unable to push his solution forward.


I wonder if the Vatican will issue a statement noting favourably the generous broadmindedness of the good bishop in allowing priests to remain celibate if they choose.

But my imagination balks at at attempt to picture the shotgun ceremonies that would ensue if it became the policy of the Swiss Catholic Church to force priests to marry against their will.

Friday, November 27, 2009

See y'all Monday

I'll leave you all with this cheery thought:

“In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.” - Dorothy Sayers

I've run out of saints

I've been spending a little time each morning reading the saints legends for the day in the Anglican Brev, both the general ones and the English-region ones. It's some good reading and quite inspiring. But this week, being so close to the end of the year, I came to the end of the list. There aren't any more Anglo saints until Dec. 3rd and nothing more in the general Kalendar until the new year.

So now I'm stuck praying the Rosary.

I'd forgotten just what an awful snore the Rosary is.

I think I must be a bad Catholic.

Ancient stuff on Youtube


Hey, I just discovered that there is a bunch of videos of ancient Greek and Roman music on Youtube. No idea if it really is ancient, or Greek and Roman, but it sounds pretty good. In a soundtrack-to-the-BBC-version-of-the-Odyssey way.

Plus, they tell you what the names of those instruments are, so you can impress people by pronouncing them incorrectly at parties.

How to behave towards intelligent accomplished

feminists.

The Minefield of Caddishness


Feminists could use a dose of Harry Enfield, and so could gentlemen.

You know who you are.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Doxies



TTony, a regular reader here for some time, is taking a break:

...the LMS created a fortress of insularity because it needed to. I think that time has gone, but I sometimes sense a new insularity online, that seems to value an idea of ultratrad heteropraxis. "My praxy is better than your praxy" is less bad than "my doxy is better than your doxy", but it isn't good.


Some years ago, I abruptly stopped being interested in the Liturgical Issues and have more or less stopped blogging about them. Some of my friends here think this is odd, considering I came to Rome with the express purpose of being able to worship in the traditional rites of the Latin Church. But it just tires me, bores me, leaves me feeling ennervated and kind of like a doll with not enough stuffing. It sometimes makes the after-Mass luncheon a bit of a trial, being the only one there not interested in dissecting the minutiae of styles of candlesticks, numbers and depths of bows and genuflexions etc.

But I just can't help it. Every time they get going the same thing pops into my mind. I picture some billious cleric screeching in a panic in the sacristy, "I can't wear this biretta! It's got the wrong kind of pompom on it. This is a novus ordo pompom!"

I'll just take that away and burn it for you then, shall I?

Of course, this is not to say that I will be returning to the glad-handing and banal kindergarten Masses where Father acts like a gameshow host with his microphone (yes, I've seen a bishop at a confirmation walk up and down with his microphone interviewing the kids and making jokes with them...)

I have worked out a way to avoid the Gladhand 'o Peace in Roman churches which are usually extremely large, very old, full of art and don't really have pews. You see, in Roman churches, tourists are constantly wandering around looking at the walls and taking pictures of the statues while Mass is going on. One has to pay attention, but the trick is to wait until the build-up - you know, when they all stand up after the Pater Noster and start wiping their greasy palms on their coats - and just wander over to the side aisle and pretend you're looking at the frescoes. They'll think you're a tourist and leave you alone. Helps to bring a camera.

But it's a funny thing that in all this time of being a Mad, Rad and Bad Trad, I'm really just more or less fed up with the whole thing. It just seems silly to waste one's energies trying to explain that Bach is better than Duran Duran. If they can't see it, why are we bothering?

A nicer one...

...and a great deal more like what I think Narnian music would be like.

Hans Memling (1435/40(?) - 1494)

Nice outfit.

I know from personal experience how hard it is to make one of those truncated cone henins stay on your head.

Once, a long time ago, I had a gorgeous black satin and black velvet parti-coloured dress a lot like this one, with crimson silk collar and cuffs. It made one sit bolt upright and reduced your ability to move to the point where you could barely reach the salt cellar at dinner. The four foot train made any dancing more vigorous than a sedate pavane impossible.

but it was gorgeous.
When I saw this

Narnia (Swedish band), a Swedish Christian melodic metal band

on a Wikipedia disambiguation page, well,


how could I possibly resist such temptation?

No, it's OK. You don't actually have to listen to it.

One doctor has found the solution

As an increasing number of women delay motherhood at the risk of losing their fertility, one doctor believes he has found the answer: pausing biological time by freezing ovarian tissue by telling them, "Suck. It. Up. Sweetheart. You made your choices and now you have to live with the consequences of your actions like a real grown-up. You can't expect us to keep throwing research money away on finding new ways for you to have babies when you were too selfish to live like a normal woman. Cancer is still out there.

"I'm sure your career will give you all the comfort and care you need in your old age."

I wish I ran the world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Maybe we should just make Wednesdays "Purcell Day"


I have this on a CD and was listening to it the other day while I was making the tea in the morning and when the opening line "How long wilt thou be angry, O Lord?!" caught my attention, my EvilTrad brain responded, "As long as you keep singing in English, duh!"

But it was really just a knee-jerk thing.

Journalists, our intellectual and moral superiors...

EU Referendum on the recent astonishing revelations that the whole "global warming" thing has been a big, government and media-approved hoax:
On the ball as always, with the latest orthodoxy, Reuters is happily reassuring us (itself) that the revelation of a series of "embarrassing" e-mails is not a "game changer".

The proof of this assertion comes with the cast-iron, copper-bottomed mantra which wards off all evils, the answer to life, the universe and everything ... "experts believe ... ". Ranking alongside "scientists say ... ", these mantras are the modern equivalent of garlic used to ward off the devil (aka sceptics).


Personally, I always liked "...a new study has revealed".

Just a little aside, as Kathy likes to say, can we PUH-Lease drop this whole "-gate" thing?

She suggests naming every political scandal "-aquiddick" instead.

More posts on Spooky

Fr. Dwight writes,
Modernists deny supernaturalism and therefore they are not really religious. Now by 'religion' I mean a transaction with the supernatural. Religion (whether it is primitive people jumping around a campfire or a Solemn High Mass in a Catholic Cathedral) is about an interchange with the other world. It is about salvation of souls, redemption of sin, heaven, hell damnation, the afterlife, angels and demons and all that stuff.

Modernists don't deal in all that. For them religion is a matter of fighting for equal rights, making the world a better place, being kind to everyone and 'spirituality'. It doesn't take very long for people to realize that you don't have to go to church for all that. So people stop going, and that eventually means the death of modernist Christianity. The first generation of modernist Christians will attend church regularly. The second will attend church sometimes. The third almost never. The fourth and fifth will not see any need for worship. They will conclude that if religion is no more than good works, then the religious ritual is redundant.


Fr. Dwight also points out something about being a Supernaturalist religious person, as opposed to a modernist:

Modernists aren't actually much fun. In my experience they're a joyless lot, always on some sort of serious, smug and self righteous campaign, not infrequently with a whiff of the conspiracy theorist about them. That can't last.


Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine...

Seeds of the Church

No matter where you stand on the whole Muzzie thing, one thing is for sure. There is going to be no shortage of opportunities for the quick ticket in the near future.


Update:

Doh! He was an Orthodox. So, being a member of the wrong church, couldn't be saved.

"...so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church." (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)


Heh.

They really hate that.

I laff

In a grim, humourless way, of course.
Thursday, 19/11/2009:

21:37 - A BLOW TO EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY:

Our top story this hour:

Extremely low voter turnout turns first election for EU president into fiasco

According to preliminary results only 27 people voted

Until I moved here, I never understood the expression "Euro-trash"

Our New Dear Leader speculates on the connection between religiosity and danger:
“Americans are more religious than Europeans. Would that be because life in the United States entails more risks than life here? Are Americans seeking more shelter with God?"


Ummm...

You do know, don't you, that they have pretty much tamed the west over there, hey?

Like, they've got roads and shops and electricity and things nowadays in America. You don't actually have to go out and hunt antelope with a flint-tipped arrow anymore.

You got that memo, right?

And speaking of Henry Purcell


I had the oddest dream the other day that I had gone to visit Dianna Rigg at her beautiful home and she let me play her wooden marimba, at which I was suddenly spectacularly talented. This was the tune my brain chose.

In truth, I have no idea if Dianna Rigg has a marimba, wooden or otherwise. But she did say that this was her favourite tune. It sounded great on a wooden marimba.

Don't you worry your little head, there's a dear

Your betters know better than you. That's why we call them that.

From Open Europe Blog on our new president Van Rompuy's deep commitment to democracy:
In his book “Vernieuwing in hoofd en hart : een tegendraadse visie” (Renovation in Head and Heart: a contrary vision, 1998), for instance, Van Rompuy celebrates the fact that the euro was imposed in Germany even though the majority of people were against it.

He says:

“Luckily monetary union has arrived. In a couple of years it would have been too late… In Germany the majority of the population is against the replacement of the German Mark by the Euro, but Chancellor Kohl has stood firm. Monetary union has arrived, despite a large part of the population. That's possible in a parliamentary democracy, a lot less so in a direct democracy.

Later it will become clear
what kind of a revolution the euro was and how this project has brought us out of the ‘age of mediocrity’".
(p 61)

A little something to help get you through Hump-Day

Wednesday. Ugh. It should be abolished.


But Vermeer and Emma Kirkby help.

Stopped clock and all that...

I've been favourably quoted on the blog of a Jesuit.

Well well, wonders really never do cease, do they.

He agrees with my point on the Spooky posts, and adds an interesting example from Real Life:

At the very least, it strikes me that some religious believers' tendency to dismiss the "Spooky" element of faith is rather unhelpful. I've witnessed manifestations of this tendency any number of times, but at the moment one particular instance stands out in my mind. I once attended a seminar at which a Roman Catholic liturgist cavalierly dismissed a college student's statement that she liked to attend a particular on-campus liturgy because it was, in her description, "spooky" - conducted solely by the light of candles, punctuated by Gregorian chant, celebrated with a stylized formality that was at once austere and inviting. [Really! a Catholic liturgist dismissed the genuine aspirations of the faithful huh? Gosh! I'm deeply shocked.] In the eyes of this liturgist, to say that one was looking for "spooky" suggested that one wasn't really looking for God. I didn't offer a challenge to the liturgist's statement at the time, but I wanted to reply that it was precisely within the realm of the "Spooky" that many find God.

Contrary to the views of that liturgist and others like him, I would suggest that the widespread hunger for mystery must be accepted and respected. [very generous.] I would suggest, too, that Miss White's question - "What is it all for if there's no Spooky?" - is one that believers of all stripes ought to take seriously. Among other things, asking this question might help us to understand why so many people identify as "spiritual but not religious." To be very frank, people who consider themselves to be spiritual but not religious are wrong - ["Wrong"? How un-nuanced of you!] if you describe yourself this way, you're relying on the mistaken premise that "spirituality" and "religion" are two distinct phenomena that can be separated rather than aspects of the same experience. Nonetheless, I suspect that not a few of the "spiritual but not religious" crowd may have trouble with "The Rules" (which is what they often take religion to be) but still seek the "Spooky" in some form or another. If we wish to convince an increasingly skeptical society that religion and spirituality are inseparable, we would do well to recognize that "The Rules" and the "Spooky" are inseparable as well.


Well, v. nice and gratifying. Thanks for that.

I'm sure you're a very nice person, personally, but I have to warn you of something which I'm sure you're probably already aware if, as you say, you've become a regular reader here.

I don't like Jesuits.

But don't take it personally. I'm a notorious bigot, fascist, anti-choice extremist and self-hating anti-feminist. The list of people I don't like, therefore, is long and growing daily and as early additions to it, the Jebbies are by this late date way down on the bottom with hippies, feminists, communists, all my high school teachers and most of the world's political class.

Just don't get made a bishop, whatever you do.

What is ecumenism, anyway?

More from the Sin Eater (which just keeps getting better and better, in a mean cynical way):

Poor bewildered 16 year-old Ermyn, who wants to be a believer but, being an Anglican doesn't know how, also doesn't know what Ecumenism is. But she had heard the word somewhere and used it in a pinch when she had to think of something to talk about with the bishop's wife when put on the spot at an awful party.

Later she is again confronted with the dreadful woman:
"Have you thought any more about ecumenism?" Mrs. Flower asked Ermyn.

"Oh yes. Thank you," said Ermyn. "What is ecumenism?" she asked Rose in an undertone.

"It is as though a dying man were to tie himself to one already dead in the hope of setting in train a process of revitalisation," Rose told her, also in an undertone, low but carrying.

"It's lovely," gabbled Peggy parchedig [Welsh; I think it means the vicar's wife]. "Charlie went to talk to the nuns the other day. They were lovely to him. And the Father gave us a sermon at Easter. It was lovely."

"How lovely," said Rose, leaning back on her elbows. "If the progressives in my poor befuddled Church have their way," she said to Ermyn, "thousands more clergymen's wives will be unleashed on to the world. Ponder that, if ever you feel overwhelmed by unreasoning cheerfulness."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Poor Mad Old Thing

Just finished an absurdly thick book about the history of Salisbury (good grief! was it really necessary to start the thing at the end of the Paleolithic?) and am now back to my normal rule: "Thin books are good books".

I'm reading The Sin Eater, by Allis Thomas Ellis.

She was a Trad Catholic and pretty acerbic about NewChurch. I have to say, I'm not sure that this is not the best description of the wreckage I have yet heard.

Bit long, but I thought y'all would enjoy it.

Rose is a Catholic who has lapsed because of the Changes. The book was published in 1977.

She is asked "How do you become a Roman Catholic?"

"You don't," said Rose without hesitation.

Ermyn was unrebuffed. Like a drunk, she persisted. "No, how?"

"Nobody does any more," said Rose.

"They must," said Ermyn. "They must."

...

"You'd never get in," Rose said, "past the people falling over themselves to get out."

"Oh, why?" asked Ermyn, leaden and hopeless. Since her day as a bridesmaid she had thought of the Church as a last resort, a final sure goal, to be taken when all else failed.

...

"They modernised it," said Rose, taking up the thread. "They fell victim to the municipal line of thought that goes: 'That's beautiful. It must be old. We'd better knock it down.'"

"Yes, I know," said Ermyn, thinking of the building site in the fields below. "Don't you to to church any more?"

"No," said Rose, "I don't. Certainly not."

"They want you to kiss the person next to you," she said...

"At the consecration," she said dreamily, "they do a sort of advertiser's announcement. You think for a moment they're telling you God's blood is untouched by a human hand, a sort of guarantee of wholesomeness - though I'd always been led to believe it was feet. But they're actually explaining it is made by human hands. They're very honest you see. They don't want to feel they're putting anything over on anybody. I think it's meant for the enlightenment of the credulous, who previously thought it came straight from Heaven in vast ethereal tankers. And they're creeping up on Transubstantiation, circling it with a net. It'll be the next to go, and then heigh ho for the gates of Hell."

...

She scowled. "The last time I went to Mass - and it was the last time - there was the PP facing the congregation, standing behind his table and joining in the singing of the negro spirituals and pop songs and Shall-we-gather-by-the-river. There has always been a hint of catering about the Mass, but previously the priest had the dignity of a master chef busying himself with his specialite. Now he seems like a singing waiter in charge of an inadequate buffet. One is tempted to stroll up and ask for a double martini and enquire who on earth forgot to put the doings on the canapes. I wonder why they didn't keep the real Mass for me and just bring in this one for the kiddies and the mentally subnormal?"

"To do him justice," said Rose, "he does still dress in the proper fashion. He hasn't taken to going round in jeans and a T-shirt and a little cross on a chain round his neck imploring people to call him Roger, and he hasn't left the church rto marry and devote his life to rewriting theology to conform with his own lusts and itches, and drivel on about the self-transcending nature of sex, like all those treacherous lecherous Jesuits mad with the radiant freedoms of contemporary thought. But it isn't enough. Now the Church has lost its head, priests feel free to say what they think themselves, and they don't have any thoughts at all except for some rubbish about the brotherhood of man. They seem to regard Our Lord as a sort of beaten egg to bind us all together."

She began to make mayonnaise, requesting the Holy Souls not to let it curdle. "It is as though," she went on, "one's revered, dignified and darling old mother had slapped on a mini-skirt and fishnet tights and started ogling strangers. A kind of menopausal madness, a sudden yearning to be attractive to all. It is tragic and hilarious and awfully embarrassing. And of course, those who knew her before feel a great sense of betrayal and can't bring themselves to to see her any more...

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's about the explosions, bud.

Dude,

has anyone ever explained to you the concept of "overthinking"?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh come on, don't go away mad.

I just couldn't leave things on such a down note.

A few Romepics.


In Sant' Agonstino, this statute of the Virgin Mary has been venerated by mothers and mothers-to-be and would-be mothers for many a long year.


Memorial state of a Roman Senator, Ostia Antica


Twilight, and other teen-vampire books, selling well in Rome book shops.


A very Catholic pic. Polish nuns on a sunny day.


Some of my life-long habits will never die. Thanks Grandma.


I waved, but he was busy.


Easter Vigil night in Sopra Minerva.


San Gregorio.


The last thing some Christian martyrs saw before the lions.


How to deal with the cephalopod threat. Piazza Navona.


Orange trees at the Ange.


The saturno making a comeback. But only with the young people.


Memento Mori.

So, you're saying it was OK to kill her then.

Because her condition was "irreversible".

"The situation of the brain was consistent with persistent vegetative state" and "were irreversible neuropathological damage," say the neurologists Fabrizio Tagliavini and Raffaele de Caro.


Whatever helps you sleep at night.

Religion of Pervs

I think Shea calls it the "religion-that-can't-grow-up".

And I'm starting to see why.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ok, hands up everyone who has a crush on Alan Rickman


Ooo! me me!

Religion of peace

Joel 3 9-10

From the Matins reading in the (real) Breviary.

Calling the children of Israel to a holy war:

Proclaim ye this among the nations: prepare war, rouse up the strong: let them come, let all the men of war come up.

Cut your ploughshares into swords, and your spades into spears. Let the weak say: I am strong.

It's so undignified when your tongue hangs out

People are encouraged to lie down when they take the lethal drug, because if they die sitting up at the table, their mouth drops open and their body slumps, making it harder for the family to watch the process.

We don't want it to look bad, now do we?

Here's another one


I don't know if it was Purcell, but...

A taste

Ok, I did the thing with Box.net, and it has given me a URL.

I took this audio during the rehearsal of a musical group that came to Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini last year to accompany a Rosary evening. Readings, Rosary, music...you know the sort of thing.

Yes, that voice at the beginning is me. You can tell because I'm saying something stupid.

Let me know if you can open the link.

If this audio file experiment works, I'll get you some more.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Technical Assistance Needed

So, I've collected a few sound files of music from various things at Ssma. Trinita d. Pellegrini. The church has quite a good choir, though it is small, and sometimes there are visiting musicians, and now and then I bring along the digital voice recorder.

I got some gorgeous baroque music from a Rosary evening, and did some of the music at this year's Feast of All Souls.

I would really like to post it here, but don't know how one goes about putting a digital sound file into a form that can be linked to on the internet. I've figured out pictures, what with Picasa and Photobucket and whatnot, but am wondering if there is something similar for music.

Something that can be used easily by a non-nerd.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh please oh please

Organic growth is not an option for him, so he must grow the Church by acquisition. The Apostolic Constitution is part of that acquisitive strategy, aimed less at dismembering the Church of England than at bringing home Catholics in America and Australia; but even more significantly being tested as a tool ahead of bringing others, such as the ultra-traditionalist and schismatic Lefebvrists, back into the fold. Benedict wants to consolidate orthodoxy wherever he finds it and, eastern Orthodox patriarchs should note, there can be only one voice of authority and it speaks from Rome. This Pope is on a reactionary and Counter-Reformational rampage.

...you say that like it's a bad thing.

Oh by the way,


2012?

Not anti-Catholic. Not even a bit.

Saw it last night, and it was great. Gobs o' fun. World falls to bits; good guys win.

Roland Emmerich might be a commie, he might hate religion and Catholicism in particular, but he has one talent that makes him good at disaster movies: he blows stuff up REAL GOOD.

And frankly, religion came off pretty well in this. The world comes to an end for a bland, vaguely believable reason (solar flares or something...really doesn't matter). Nothing supernatural there. People respond to it in various ways, one of which is to pray. So far, so sensible.

We've got the Cardinals and the Pope, and Silvio Berlusconi, ended their days honourably praying and facing the end fearlessly. The Sistine Chapel ceiling collapses on them and my friend commented, "What, there's more than five cardinals at the end of the world who believe in God? Cool! We win!"

While Angela Merkel, who high-tailed it to the ark, told the assembled heads state "The Italian Prime MInister has opted to remain behind with his people and pray" and the Italian PM was pictured in St. Peter's square with his mantilla-wearing wife when st. Peter's collapsed.

And when the mean policy wonk at the White House says, "Where is the president!? We have to go get on the plane!" He was told, "He's praying, which might not be a bad idea right about now."

It had everything. All kinds of car chases through falling buildings, falling buildings, giant super-volcanoes, humunguous eruptions, and all of Los Angeles sliding into the sea. What more could you possibly want?

And to the snooty critics, I say, Phooey! Not every thing needs to be Shakespeare.
There's a place for opera and a place for Monster Truck extravaganzas.

So there.

One last note: Someone ought to send a note to, err...someone, and say that a dog that barks at EVERY single thing that goes past the garden, is more or less useless as a guard dog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Six Ways from Sunday

Two years ago, controversy erupted in Britain after scientists announced plans to create human embryos using empty cow and rabbit eggs. Critics condemned the mixing of human and animal genetic material, though scientists said the embryos would be destroyed after 14 days and would only be used to help them learn how to create human stem cells.


The ethical confusion, much of it media-created, over embryo and genetic research is based on one. single. problem.

The medical world, in cahoots with the media, will not, cannot say that a human embryo is a human being. Their whole universe would come crashing down on their wee heads if they did.

But this is the crux of all "ethical" problems with embryo and genetic research. It boils down to:

Us: "You can't kill people to solve your problems."

Them: "But it's OK, 'cause see, these aren't really people."

Us: "Prove it."

Them: "A fish!"

Us: "..."



The quote at the top comes from an AP story. It's just a little teeny example of what I've been banging on about for some years now: the total misrepresentation by the media, usually with the collusion of the researchers, of both the science and the ethics.

"Controversy erupted" over the creation of human embryos from de-nucleated cow ova because a human embryo is a human being, and you can't do that kind of thing to human beings. (It says so in the Nuremberg Code, just for one.) But the AP story follows the pattern of, well, lying, actually:

"Critics condemned the mixing of human and animal genetic material".

No, "critics" (that's us, by the way) objected to the creation of human beings from cow material.

"...though scientists said the embryos would be destroyed after 14 days..."

Once you understand that they are talking about "killing a human being", not "destroying" some random bits of tissue, you can kind of go from there.

But all that is OK, because they "would only be used to help them learn how to create human stem cells".

Us: "So, it was OK to use those Jews for medical experiments, because, after all, they were destined for the gas chamber anyway."

Them: "Extremist! Crank! Lunatic! Anti-Semite!"

Us: "..."


You see the problem, then, with a proposal to "study" the "ethics" and "public reaction" to the "mixing of human and animal DNA".

Ask me if it's OK to create mouse embryos and insert the human gene for huntingdon's disease and my first reaction is going to be to ask, "Where did the DNA come from?" If it's from the skin cells of an adult donor, then fill your boots, on your bike. Get me a cure for that big bad disease and hurry it up.

But if you say, "Oh, we were going to create some human embryos and extract their stem cells, thus 'destroying' them before the 14-day cut-off," then I'm going to start talking about Auschwitz medical experiments again.

The reason this problem can't be solved is that one, first, thing.

But all that aside,

any bets as to what the Academy of Medical Sciences is going to say about the "ethics" of such research?

Anyone?

There is no "nice" Islam

You know if Shea's saying it, it must finally be filtering down into the mainstream of socially acceptable US "conservative" Catholicism.

So, you know, it must be, like, true now. Or something.

It was a spectacular display of deliberate willed stupidity by a media culture that demonstrates repeatedly it does not want to acknowledge that Islam tends to breed such acts of terror with startling frequency.
Meanwhile, the Religion That Can't Grow Up beholds the carnage wrought by another Son of the Prophet and naturally blames . . . somebody else, while feeling sorry for itself:
"When a white guy shoots up a post office, they call that going postal," said Victor Benjamin II, 30, a former member of the Army. "But when a Muslim does it, they call it jihad."
Um, no. When the Muslim calls it jihad, we call it jihad, just as when a Christian used to call it a crusade, we call it a crusade.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are you an oldie?

I really miss the Oldie. I used to buy it faithfully every month at the WH Smith's in Chester in front of the Clock.

If some of our UK readers want to do a nice thing, they would mail me a copy of a recent edition. I've worn out all the ones I brought with me.

I think I'm probably at least an honourary oldie. One day when I was a little girl, I was watching my grandma get ready for the day, and she was putting some white stuff on her face. I asked her what it was, and she said it was something that older ladies used to make themselves look nice. She said I could only start using it after I was forty. On my fortieth birthday, I marched straight out and bought my first pot of Oil of Oldie. It smelled just like her.

Take our quiz and find out...

1. When you hear of 'Big Brother', do you still think of George Orwell?
Ummm...yes. Of course. Is there something else I should think of?

2. Do you not only talk to yourself, but see nothing odd about it?
Don't know what you mean.

3. Do you know quite a lot of poems by heart?
Sadly, no. But I know some poetry enough to recite bits and to look them up on Google (which I think disqualifies me). And I remember my grandpa reciting Shakespeare. I wish I were older.

4. Do you spend more than an average amount of time in stationery shops?
And I buy note cards for thank you notes. And sometimes even send them.

5. Do you refer to 'the wireless'?
Well, no. But...


7. Are you obsessively concerned about the size and shape of spoons?
And forks too. I've been known to apologise for offering salad forks instead of cake forks for cake. And I know the difference between a teaspoon, grapefruit spoon and an egg spoon.

8. Do you mend clothes rather than throw them away?
Not only, but I can and do darn my socks.

9. Do you write letters?
Yep.

10. Do you still wind your watch up?
Don't have a watch. I have nice ticky clocks though, that run fast.

11. Do you know what a pronoun is?
And I get the joke, "Up with which I will not put!" a kind of grammar-nerd password.

12. Are there at least 10 people in your address book who are dead?
under five. But working on it.

13. Do you know any prayers apart from the Lord's Prayer?
Oh, come on!

14. Do you save string?
And tin foil, and plastic bags and brown paper.

15. Are you frightened of going to the Barbican?
sorry?

16. Can you waltz?
Yep.

17. Do you go around turning lights off?
Yes, but this has more to do with the hippies.

18. Do you clean your shoes with a brush and proper shoe polish?
Ummm... is there something else I'm supposed to use?

19. Have you ever been to a Japanese restaurant?
Oh. Well. Yes. Rather a lot actually.

Dr. Cleese explains the existence of Richard Dawkins

Wish I had a poppy



My paternal grandfather served in both Big Wars, my maternal great-grandfather served in a mounted regiment in the 1st, and in the Home Guard in the Second. My mother's father was in the US airforce.

You can't get them here, but if I could I'd be wearing one today too.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Requiescant in Pace
The picture is grim. Desperate French Catholic laity crouching pathetically in empty, decaying churches where no priest has set foot in years, no Mass been said, no confessions heard, no banns read and especially (1.98/woman) no babies baptised.

What do they do? What do Catholic laity do when they are left on their own, without clerical leadership, without the sacraments?

Do they organise ban the bomb rallies? Get together to discuss third world poverty? Do they organise discussion groups about women's ordination? Do they make felt banners and creepy giant puppets for their home-made paraliturgies?

The Pastor in Valle tells us that the Church in France, that is, the mainstream Novusordoist branch that has strangled the Faith like a clump of ivy killing an oak, is dying. No priests, you see.

The number of French diocesan priests working in France is fewer than 9000. For a number of dioceses, (Digne, 25 priests, Nevers, 38, Auch, Saint-Claude, Gap, Digne, Viviers, Verdun, Pamiers, Langres, etc) in ten years time the number of priests in active ministry will be ten at the most. In Bishop Gueneley’s diocese of Langres, the most liberal of French dioceses, one frequently finds one sole priest for 60 churches.


No seminarians either.

The number of seminarians has now fallen below the mark of 750 (740 in 2008, and this number includes a good hundred seminarians from non-diocesan communities). Pamiers, Belfort, Agen, Perpignan, &c, have no seminarians.


The future doesn't look much better:
"...a third of French dioceses will cease to exist ...within the coming 15 years.


So what do French Catholic lay people do while their bishops fiddle?

Archbishop Vingt-Trois has given a marvellous example of ‘visibility’ which was heard on Radio Notre-Dame (interview of 5th November): in a parish without a priest, the laity got themselves together to say the Rosary in a village hall: there they also had the idea of cleaning the church to recite the rosary in; so, nothing is lost; this church will live again…


Sound to me like they're doing better without them.

2500 year-old Persian Army Discovered in Sahara Desert


The remains of a mighty Persian army said to have drowned in the sands of the western Egyptian desert 2,500 years ago might have been finally located, solving one of archaeology's biggest outstanding mysteries, according to Italian researchers.

Bronze weapons, a silver bracelet, an earring and hundreds of human bones found in the vast desolate wilderness of the Sahara desert have raised hopes of finally finding the lost army of Persian King Cambyses II. The 50,000 warriors were said to be buried by a cataclysmic sandstorm in 525 B.C.

"We have found the first archaeological evidence of a story reported by the Greek historian Herodotus," Dario Del Bufalo
.

Archaeology cools me right out!

According to Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, sent 50,000 soldiers from Thebes to attack the Oasis of Siwa and destroy the oracle at the Temple of Amun after the priests there refused to legitimize his claim to Egypt.

After walking for seven days in the desert, the army got to an "oasis," which historians believe was El-Kharga. After they left, they were never seen again.

"A wind arose from the south, strong and deadly, bringing with it vast columns of whirling sand, which entirely covered up the troops and caused them wholly to disappear," wrote Herodotus.


Dooooon't mess with those Egyptian priests!

Too little; too late

ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Oh, sorry... Did someone mention "Canadian identity"?


H/T to Kathy
(who is clearly spending more time in commboxes than
is probably strictly good for her).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fr. Blake notices that people really want the Spooky stuff

Fr. Ray Blake, one of the really good ones in Britain, notes something that I've been thinking about for some time:
I was told that during Fresher's Week at Sussex University 220 first years signed up to the University Secular Society, I haven't heard how many signed up for the various religious societies. I am struck by how young people want to discuss religion, wherever I go religion seems to be a subject for discussion. What most religious people are badly prepared to discuss are those things the non-religious want to discuss, those fundamental questions that science just can't answer or where science merges into religion.


In my Spooky post, I said that people are really not interested in the kind of religion that is so popular in most Catholic chancery offices these days. They're really not interested in the Church's good works in African villages. They want to know about the religious part of religion.

I remember some time ago, some UK secularist journalist whose name I can't remember, issued a challenge to the religious leaders of Britain to tell him why they think he should believe in God. (I'll call him) Dave Secularist said, in effect, "You people just can't keep on smiling mysteriously and saying it's all about 'faith'. You've got to have some reason for believing the things you do. Tell me what they are, so that I may believe too."

Well, he wrote a few stories about his conversations with Rowan Williams, who gave him his usual Olympic-class blither, and unsurprisingly, came out thinking he had been right all along about what rubbish it all was. None of the religious people were able to answer his straightforward questions.

Of course, it doesn't take more than a few minutes of googling and wikipediaing to discover the term "apologetics" and from there surf right on to the Five Ways and the Ontological Argument, so I'm sure it wasn't as innocent and honest as all that. Dave Secularist knows perfectly well how to look things up, and even if he's too old to use a computer, they've still got card files in the British Library. But from what I could see, the "religious" people made an utter hash of it, without even trying to make a reasonable case, as any fifth grade Sunday school kid could have done even 40 years ago.

But what they did talk about what not the actual religion part of the question. They didn't even get close to the nature of God. Didn't even glance at the first question in either Thomas or the Baltimore Catechism. They talked a lot about feelings and third world aid, as usual, but nothing Real.

This is what people want. They want the Real. The supernatural parts of religion. The Spooky.

Please sir, can we have some Reality?

Something to remember

The November 1, 2009 issue of The Non Profit Times ranked the top 100 non-profits (Charities) as per their 2008 income. PPFA is Number 16 out of almost 1.2 million non profits with an income of over 1 Billion dollars in 2008 ($1,023,300,000) – This is perhaps the first year it crossed the billion dollar threshold.


Something I think the pro-life people need to understand better is just how much people want abortion. They'll pay for it, cheerfully, either themselves or through taxes, they'll donate for it, they'll march for it, they'll tolerate nearly any evil to preserve it in law. People want it. They want it because they know it allows them to have what they want most. They've made the calculation, easily and quickly in their minds: "If we outlaw this obviously evil thing, then we will go back to a time when we could not hop in and out of bed with whomever we pleased."

They've had 400 years of philosophers telling them that evil is more or less unimportant anyway, or at least, the kind of evil you don't have to see too close up, so it's something they just don't care about very much any more.

People want abortion.

...and thick and fast they came at last, and more and more and more...


Oysters Anglicans welcome offer from Rome

...all hopping through the frothy waves
and scrambling to the shore...


Apart from the Walrus and the Carpenter, Lewis Carroll's verse just seems so sweetly apropos. (And so many of them seem to be about seafood. Odd.)

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

Just starting to get used to NewChurch?

Well, let John Allen take us on a ride through

Future Church


I bet you can't wait!

Monday, November 09, 2009

So, how's November where you are?

Went swimming in the Med this weekend. (Okay, the "Tyrhennian"...whatever.)

It was pretty cold I guess.

How's November where you are?

Some days you just feel the need to make an announcement


Sam. My hero.


Aaaand...

Sometimes you just need to do a little Gilbert and Sullivan.


Why are they laughing anyway?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thank you St. Jude

for favours granted.

Sorry, can't blog today

All my irony fuses got blown in one go today:
Pope invites Tony Blair to Vatican summit to discuss Church's fears that politics is losing its religion


Yep. You can't make this stuff up.

You can be sure that there will be a press conference, and little ol' me will be there with my handy voice recorder in hand. "Sir, how do you respond to having been given the nickname of Britain's "principle architect of the culture of death"?

Now, Nick Pisa plays it with a straight face, but I think the headline writers at the Mail got the joke.

Melanie Phillips certainly got it some time ago:

...his government either directly promoted or did nothing to stop the long march through Britain’s institutions — the systematic undermining of the country’s fundamental values and traditions, in line with the cultural Marxism strategy of the philosopher Antonin Gramsci.

...

Obama has talked about remedying what he sees as the flaws in the U.S. Constitution which promotes only “negative liberties,” or freedom from something rather than positive rights to something. Well, [under Blair's New-Britain Programme] through human-rights legislation Britain has exchanged its historic concept of “negative” liberty — everything is permitted unless it is actively prohibited — for the ‘positive’ European idea that only what is codified is to be permitted.

As a result, freedom has shrunk to what ideology permits. Equality legislation has cemented a “victim culture” under which the interests of all groups deemed to be powerless (black people, women, gays ) trump those deemed to be powerful (white people, men, Christians). Since this doctrine holds that the “powerless” can do no wrong while the “powerful” can do no right, injustice is thus institutionalized, and anyone who queries the preferential treatment afforded such groups is vilified as a racist or bigot.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

But We're evil because ...we don't ordain women....

Have I got it right Mr. Mainstreammedia?
A Saudi court of cassation upheld a ruling to behead and crucify a 22-year-old man convicted of raping five children and leaving one of them to die in the desert, newspapers reported on Tuesday.

A brief history of the storage of books

Some time ago, a friend of mine, a priest, sent me an email complaining that his book situation was a "major disaster", with books piled on the floor and on every available surface. I wrote him a note saying, "I understand that 'shelves' were thought to be very useful to store books for quite a long time before they invented 'computers'."

Just recently I've been debating whether to make the long and complicated trip to Rome's Ikea, which I'm told is almost inaccessible by transit, but which I know has book cases for sale and, at least in other countries, delivers.

I have some of my books still in boxes (which same are serving as end tables for tea cups and my bedside reading lamp, clock and phone recharger) and some are stacked up on the floor gathering dustbunnies the size of tumbleweeds.

It all reminded me of a little tale I wrote once.

Once upon a time, some people who wore funny hats and had very good tans, thought they ought to figure out a way to make a living without working. There were three or four of them, (the chronicles are sketchy) and their names were Fred. (In those days there weren't very many people and they hadn't invented very many names. They all knew each other though, so it was all right.)

One of them, a bright fellow named Fred, decided that the best way to do this was to hit the peasants up for something he had just thought of that he called 'taxes.' His friends liked the idea but said, quite sensibly, that it would be difficult to collect these 'taxes' from the peasants without a system of enforcement, since in those days, pretty much everyone was a peasant, including Fred. "What we need is a 'class system'!" said Fred. This met with general agreement, but since 'class systems' hadn't been invented yet, no one quite knew how to go about making one.

After puzzling it out for a while, someone suggested that they form a city state. Everyone agreed that this was a great plan. So, being smart fellows, they started getting up very early every day, even before their mums had put the kettle on, and by thinking very hard, they made up a religion, laws, mathematics, astronomy, agriculture, engineering, a military, surnames, an economy, wheeled carts and beer. All of this was to be organized according to the 'class system'. When they had all this, they started building very tall buildings to make sure everyone for miles around knew that they were not merely having everyone on, but really meant it about inventing this great new thing.

They decided to call it 'civilization.'

Well, it really caught on. People liked it a lot and started to copy it and before you knew it, everywhere you looked, there were buildings and wheeled carts, and long surnames, and numbering systems and a couple of completely new things, 'trade' and the 'middle class'.

But then someone realized there was something that wasn't going to work out about all this. He knew, though would never admit, that their gods were not really very powerful. They were OK for bringing in a harvest, most of the time, and for winning wars - another new thing which people also liked quite a lot, (this was before tobacco)- but their gods were not going to make anyone immortal. Not even the priestly/mathematician/engineering class.

What to do? Well, you see the problem don't you? If the people who invented all this stuff were going to die some day, how would anyone in the future know how to fix the carts, or when to sacrifice the virgins, or keep up with the tax laws, or remember who they are supposed to be at war with? And, most importantly, who was going to brew the beer?

Everyone was quite worried about this, (except the peasants who suddenly found themselves quite busy) then one day, an especially clever chap whose name I can't remember, but was most likely Fred, and whose parents were potters, was fooling about with some clay and thought, "Gosh, I bet I can invent cuneiform!"

Well, this thing, 'cuneiform' caught on really well. Some people even liked it more than beer and war and they decided to become a new thing: 'scholars.'

After all this, everyone was really happy. Especially the scholars who really felt that all the hard thinking had paid off since they now had a really great way of making a living without working. (Of course, after a while, people started thinking that calling it 'cuneiform' was a bit of a mouthful, so it was shortened to 'journalism'.)

Now everyone was having a wonderful time. Peasants were being hit up for lots of taxes, and new ways of making a living without working were being invented all the time. Soon, someone decided to invent lawyers, and university professors, politicians, accountants, liturgists and pastoral counsellors. Everything was just great!

The only trouble with all this was that there were now so many cuneiform tablets around that they were blocking the drains and spoiling the scholars' gardens and making a mess all over. So a bright young scholar (whose name was certainly not Fred, since people were much more sophisticated now,) decided to go about collecting them all in what he called a 'library.' For this new thing, the same bright young guy made these very useful contraptions, a bit like the scaffolding that was used to build the buildings, except a bit smaller.

He decided to call them 'shelves.' And he put his books on them and spent many happy years organizing and re-organizing the books on the shelves. He called this 'work,' but really just to please his mother who thought he ought to have joined the army.

Young people these days!


Just explain to me what it is with the younger generations these days. They seem to know nothing at all about classical culture. Their own culture.

Imagine not knowing who Kang and Kodos were! I think schools need to run remedial programmes in pop-culture for those who just haven't kept up.

A sad day has come when young people don't get the pop culture references in the Simpsons.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Well, I for one welcome our new Cephalopod European Overlords



All blocks to Lisbon now removed:
Mr. Klaus added his signature to the treaty, even as he expressed his continuing objections, just hours after the Czech Republic's high court ruled it compatible with the country's constitution. The move means the Treaty, already ratified by the other 26 members of the bloc, can go into force on Dec. 1.


In related news,

Japanese fishing trawler sunk by giant jellyfish:
A 10-ton fishing boat has been sunk by gigantic jellyfish off eastern Japan.
No, really.

Each of the jellyfish can weigh up to 200 kg and waters around Japan have been inundated with the creatures this year. Experts believe weather and water conditions in the breeding grounds, off the coast of China, have been ideal for the jellyfish in recent months.

Choice!! Choice!! It's all about CHOICE DAMMIT!!!

She said she began to feel uncomfortable with Planned Parenthood's business philosophy after the organization, suffering from the economic downturn, told her to try to bring more abortions in the door. "The money wasn't in family planning, the money wasn't in prevention, the money was in abortion and so I had a problem with that," said Johnson
.

"Oh, did I say 'referendum'?


I meant...err...well..."

Open Europe:
Senior Conservatives are now saying that instead of a referendum on Lisbon, they will seek to renegotiate several of the changes it implements. The paper quotes a Conservative source saying: "It is clear that a post-ratification referendum is simply not possible."

"We will look at the parts of the treaty that are not acceptable and seek to renegotiate them."

The Times reports that David Cameron will also pledge to write into law that no British Government will ever again be able to push through a European Treaty without a referendum...
Let's get that barn door closed, once and for all!

Cameron said that once the Treaty is endorsed by all 27 EU members and comes into force, it will "not be a treaty" and will instead be part of European law...
"...so, you know, it won't actually be reneging on my most important platform plank. Cause, if there's no Treaty to have a referendum on, we can't really have a Treaty referendum, right?"

The "heir to Blair" indeed!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Reformation Day


Here in Rome, it is difficult to go to the movies (still haven't seen the new Star Trek) because, naturally, most of the movies are dubbed into Italian. There are a couple of theatres what play movies "versione originale or lingua originale" but they are few and the offerings aren't always what you might want.

Bookstores are also rather dull; while there are usually English language sections, they are small and the offerings usually relegated to the latest chic-lit novelistic rubbish, vampire books for teens, Rome guide books and books about the wonders and glories of Obama.

So, one often has to make one's own fun.

Reformation Day is apparently something that is observed in some parts of Europe and no less in Santa Marinella. October 31 comes close enough to November 5th that I had the idea of combining the two celebrations.

Naturally, we wouldn't dream of burning an effigy of the "only man ever to enter Parliament with honest intentions," but there are quite a few other candidates who richly deserve the posthumous memorial.

So, we put some names in a hat, and burned Elizabeth I instead.

As a fully paid-up member of the Facebook group, "Elizabeth I: Heretic, Usurper, Tyrant"

and the founder of the Facebook group "The English Reformation was a Crime Against Humanity," I was happy to provide the venue, ie: I have a really great outdoor fireplace/barbeque at my place.

A bunch of friends came over and we had a jolly afternoon making an effigy:


looks just like her! (Note ruff)


making toffee apples,

eating hamburgers and then


the big event: an old fashioned Auto da Fe.

Pius (V) Bishop, servant of the servants of God, in lasting memory of the matter, says:

"Elizabeth I, by the grace of God, Queen of England, you have been found guilty of the following charges:
"Prohibiting with a strong hand the use of the true religion, which after its earlier overthrow by Henry VIII (a deserter therefrom) Mary, the lawful queen of famous memory, had with the help of this See restored, you have followed and embraced the errors of the heretics."


Readying the flames.
you have..."oppressed the followers of the Catholic faith; instituted false preachers and ministers of impiety; abolished the sacrifice of the mass, prayers, fasts, choice of meats, celibacy, and Catholic ceremonies; and have ordered that books of manifestly heretical content be propounded to the whole realm and that impious rites and institutions after the rule of Calvin, entertained and observed by yourself, be also observed by your subjects.

You have dared to eject bishops, rectors of churches and other Catholic priests from their churches and benefices, to bestow these and other things ecclesiastical upon heretics, and to determine spiritual causes; has forbidden the prelates, clergy and people to acknowledge the Church of Rome or obey its precepts and canonical sanctions; have forced most of them to come to terms with your wicked laws, to abjure the authority and obedience of the pope of Rome, and to accept you, on oath, as their only lady in matters temporal and spiritual;



Sentence pronounced.

We, seeing impieties and crimes multiplied one upon another the persecution of the faithful and afflictions of religion daily growing more severe under the guidance and by the activity of you, Elizabeth...



Stripped of the crown.
And moreover (we declare) you to be deprived of your pretended title to the aforesaid crown and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatsoever.



Crown jewels removed.

Therefore, resting upon the authority of Him whose pleasure it was to place us (though unequal to such a burden) upon this supreme justice-seat, we do out of the fullness of our apostolic power declare you, Elizabeth...


...to be a heretic and favourer of heretics, and your adherents in the matters aforesaid to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ.


Even upon contemplating the terrible fate ahead, she refuses to repent.


"By the judgment of this court, you are sentenced to be consigned to the flames.


And may God have mercy upon your wretched soul."


Give her a poke, I think she's done.


The light of the True Faith prevails.

(A message for Nick Trandem: You may consider yourself tagged.)

technical difficulties



Someone told me this weekend that he can't view the Youtube videos I post here. Is anyone else having this trouble?

When I put a video up, I normally just use the "embed" thing that Youtube provides. I've never run across this problem myself, either on my own computer or when looking at the blog from someone else's.

Not being very computery, I don't really know how to solve the problem, except to put at the bottom of the embedded video a link to the original page on Youtube.

If other people have had this trouble, my apologies for my lack of nerd qualifications.

HJW