Friday, October 29, 2010

What can go wrong?

Sometimes the whole "alpha male" thing goes terribly wrong.

I once wrote an essay about Michael Corleone and The Godfather, (that I still contend was the greatest film ever made) in which I proposed that it was Michael's inversion of the hierarchy of love that corrupted him. He became a monster out of love for his father, which he placed above the love of God.

Don't love the creature more than you love the Creator.

It goes badly.


What do we think of this?

Here's something interesting. Not quite sure what I make of it.
Welcome to Taken In Hand, a website about wholehearted sexually exclusive marriages in which, to the delight of both spouses, the man actively controls the woman. The degree of control and the way the husband retains control vary from Taken In Hand couple to Taken In Hand couple, but in all cases both husband and wife actively want the husband to have the upper hand. No matter how strong, tough and forceful a Taken In Hand wife may be, and no matter how hard she might try to take control in their marriage, she would be aghast if her husband were to let her get the upper hand. Likewise, no matter how loving, kind and considerate the husband may be, he prefers to keep his wife firmly in hand.

Pretty counter-cultural, I'd say.

It seems to almost entirely consist of contributions from readers, not sociologists or headshrinkers or accredited "experts", but regular people who relate their own experiences.

It appears to be mostly an English/UK thing, but looks a lot like those websites from the US made by evangelical Prods where they talk quite freely about "male-led" relationships and marriage.

It's pretty freewheeling, especially in the comments, and some of it can get pretty racy, but I see that there are rules against vulgarity or explicit descriptions.

I wanted my site to be one in which private information (such as intimate details about what posters do in the bedroom, or wherever) would remain private rather than appearing on the site. I wanted my site to appeal as much to Orthodox rabbis, conservative Christians and readers' parents or grandparents, as to individuals who might also read obviously racy, graphic sites.

A lot of it is about err... "domestic discipline," which I know a lot of conservative Prods approve of, though I have no idea how the Catholic Trads would feel.

One thing I like about it right off the bat is that it will obviously make the feminists' heads come right the heck off and explode.


The first three headlines on the front page are:

"She needs me to be firmly in charge"...

"How to get into the right mindset for taking control of her?"

"How can a laidback man get into the right mindset to take control?"

I have to say, just sitting here fantasizing about the screeching and howling is doing me a world of good...

That faint popping sound you hear...

I am getting the feeling that there are a lot more women writing in to sites like Taken in Hand, and others like the American Protestant male-led relationship sites, but fewer men. I was wondering if this is because more women are coming to resent the limitations that our feminism-dominated western society has placed on them. I think that there is a strong undercurrent in society against marriage that hardly ever gets talked about. But women have always and will always want to get married, and at least nowadays, men seem to have pretty strong resistance to that.

I think more women are finally seeing that they have been sold a bill of goods, that feminism has done nothing but ruin the marriage market. It has turned women into harridans no decent man in his right mind would want to marry, and has turned men into perpetual teenagers who seek nothing in life more than the next quick, meaningless liaison.

The feminist movement has given men the freedom not to marry and made it easier for them to get what they want (sex) without having to “pay” for it with marriage. Feminism has done women this terrible disservice in telling them they can sleep around just like men, and have careers and be “successful”. This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that women really don't want that. Or are starting to realise that it's not what it was cracked up to be.

I read once that a big reason that Blue Whales are now so rare, is that even after the whaling moratoriums were in place, there were so few of them left that they could not find each other in the sea to reproduce. I get the feeling that some of us old fashioned, traditional sort of people are like blue whales and finding each other in the vast and hostile oceans of the world, (a world, moreover, in which we are now in the position of having to remain strictly closeted) has become very difficult.

Let’s hear it for the internet then!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

How to get married

I've recently come to the conclusion (ok, it wasn't recently, but I've recently had it hammered into my skull like the tent peg that went into the head of that guy in the Bible) that "dating" is stupid.

It's stupid and destructive. It damages kids, teenagers (I could cite the stats, but we all know, don't we...we remember), it damages people who would just plain like to get married and stop all this idiot messing about. It damages people who fail in the 'dating game'.

In fact, the term 'dating game' is pretty appropriate. It's playing games with your heart and with your future.

And it's vulgar. Quite frankly, it's undignified and should be rejected on those grounds alone.

So where does that leave those of us who would like to be married but find the 'dating game' repellant? I think we are in a pickle. The old rules, and the structures are pretty much eradicated. It used to involve families, and other interested parties. But we don't have those anymore. In fact, the tidal wave of divorce, that hit the West Coast just about at the time my mother was getting into her encounter group lifestyle in the early 70s, has made it extremely difficult for people even to believe that getting married, let alone staying that way, is even possible.

When I was going into grade five, I had come out of a hippie 'free school' ("Sundance"... I kid you not) and my mother noticed that I didn't know anything. The hippies were so busy encouraging us to express ourselves that they forgot to teach me the times tables. (Thank God I already knew how to read, and lose myself in a book). When she panicked and realised I needed to be sent to a real school, I asked to go to a Catholic school. It was rather a new environment, I'll tell you. I went from a place where nearly all the kids came from single-parent "families" to one where nearly all the kids came from normal homes, two parents and one house in which they had lived all their lives. (I didn't exactly fit in...)

I think that was about 1975.

By the time I left St. Pat's and went into junior high, three years later, nearly all the kids' parents were divorced.

It happened that fast.

Is it any wonder most of the people I knew, out there in the secular world, before I managed to climb out of the mire, regarded marriage as some kind of sick joke? The idea that people get married and stay married, that they take it seriously like in the Olden Days, would make most of my old acquaintances laugh. No one even knows how to do it these days. I mean, apart from the whole "getting together" and "having a relationship" stuff, what else is there to do?

The Jews have an idea. I have one Jewish friend: Rabbi Yehuda Levin. He lives in New York and has nine kids. He's a pretty young guy, by modern standards, to have kids who are old enough to get married, but the last time he was in Rome, he told me he had to get back to New York to arrange his son's wedding. He asked me, as he has done every time we've met since the first time nearly ten years ago, when I was getting married. It's a big thing for Jews, I guess, and they still know how to do it, because their social system hasn't been blasted to smithereens by the Asteroid.

And they also think "dating" is stupid. Spiritually and morally dangerous.

Traditional Jews lead a modest social life. Teenagers don't date or go to parties, and boys and girls don't spend time with each other socially. While we're growing up, we don't get into emotional entanglements worrying about how popular we are, or who is more popular, or who we're going to go out with.

None of that happens at all in our community because we think it's unfair. It's not nice, and it doesn't do any good. The result is that when we're ready to get married, we're not playing any games. It's not a popularity contest and we're not trying to impress anyone.

When we're ready to get married, we go about it honestly and sincerely. We don't marry the wrong person because we might have been trying to impress somebody or compete with someone. All that is eliminated. We find somebody to marry, we get married, and the marriages last. Divorces happen, but rarely.

We start to date when we're old enough and serious enough to think about being married. When we do go out, it's with someone who has the same values we do. Usually, we come from families who know each other, or we have a mutual friend who thinks we're compatible and introduces us.


After we are introduced, we spend time together, and we consider marriage. We want to get to know what's on the other person's mind, what kind of life they want to live, what kind of life they have lived, things that have to do with being married. We wouldn't go to a movie because we want to get to know each other, not a movie. We don't want to waste time doing a lot of activities; we prefer to spend the time talking. We're not looking for a thrill; we're looking to get married.

It's a good system, and a considerate system. It takes into account that people have feelings.

For example, in our tradition, while a man and woman are dating and thinking about marriage, the dating is kept completely secret. They don't talk about it and they don't go where people are going to see them. If it doesn't work out, nobody knows. [And there are no breaks in the social sphere everyone has to continue living in...good idea.]

If it were public, people would wonder, "Why didn't you marry him? Is something wrong with him?" Or, "How come he didn't marry you? Is something wrong with you?" This way is more discreet.

If it works out, everyone is thrilled. If it doesn't work out, no one knows and no one gets hurt.

This seems like a pretty sensible system. It assumes that everyone has the same goal and works in a compassionate way to helping people attain the goal.

So, where's ours? What are we doing about this as Catholics? As "Trads"?

I had thought that in the Trad community there was more or less consensus on the "dating is for marriage" thing. I had assumed that the people who called themselves Trad Catholics had, more or less, the goal of living like normal, sane, grown-up people. That they rejected, along with the idiocies of NewChurch, the parallel rubbish in the secular world of "dating" and courtship.

Nope. Turns out not.


Mates, maid! how mean you that? no mates for you, Unless you were of gentler, milder mould.

I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love and obey.


Come, come, you froward and unable worms!
My mind hath been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reason haply more,
To bandy word for word and frown for frown;
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.


'Cause it's never a bad moment for a Shatner moment

All hail the alpha male

Philandry: it's the new black.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I've said it and said it

and I'm going to keep saying it until I'm blue in the face. Until, in fact, I'm beyond blue and am mumbling incoherently in a semi-comatose state induced by oxygen deprivation...

Feminsim and the Sexual Revolution has destroyed everything that was good about the world. A disaster worse than an asteroid.


"A Hateful Ideology"

There's no way I would regard feminism as anything but an evil in our society."

A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;


Selfish and stupid


Why I don't like women: because they bought it, hook, line and sinker...
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love and obey.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If John Williams was Beethoven,

and Darth Vader were really a romantic hero, he would have had this music.


Secret Shatner video

This just became my favourite video of the week.

(What is it with these people and their "embedding disabled on request" stuff? Sheesh! Doesn't the guy want to be more famous?)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Away for a couple of days

You may talk quietly amongst yourselves until the bell rings.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sorry Chris

I'm just finding Christopher Hogwood's Fifth a wee bit tame. I can't quite put my finger on it, but those crucial opening notes were just a little less than enthusiastic, and the second movement just a hair too slow...

I dunno. You just gotta have Von Karajan and his boys.

No two ways about it.

Where do we start?

The author of an in-depth religious study on The Simpsons says that the official Vatican newspaper had misinterpreted his work as meaning the famous cartoon family was Catholic.

You heard it here, folks. La Civilta Catholica and the Jesuits think it is a worthy thing to spend their time doing in-depth religious studies of the Simpsons.

You can't make it up.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Boys and Girls

There is nothing, nothing at all, good about the sexual revolution.

We've done nothing but hurt ourselves with this.

Some people it has outright destroyed.


How about you?

It's Wednesday. Time for some music.

Try to relax. Things aren't really as bad as you think.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Votes for Women!

Had a discussion the other day about the results of the "women's vote" on the world. My friend, trying to be a moderate, said things like, "It's not the voting, it's the topics..."

I have only one thing to say about the results of the "woman's vote": Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

Oh, wait. I think I might have a second thing to say, by way of warning: "Justin Trudeau".

What I wish I'd said is this:

"Female suffrage has led to a feminizing of Western Civilization. That civilization is now entering its crazy cat lady stage..."

Yes, I blame the woman's vote for the awful proliferation of divorce, contraception, abortion and euthanasia, (a procession that simply follows a logical order of cause and effect, you'll note) as well as for the horrors of cheap Monet reproductions on every surface of every public building in the western world. Dear God, you can actually buy Monet umbrellas and coffee mugs. Only the rise of the modern feminised state would visit such horrors on innocent passers by.

Cupcake anyone?


Singin' my tune, baby!

What are universities for anyway? I went to one and spent the whole time being a Trotsky­ist troublemaker at the taxpayers’ expense, completely neglecting my course. I have learned a thousand times more during my 30-year remed­ial course in the University of Fleet Street, still under way.

We seem to accept without question that it is a good thing that the young should go through this dubious experience. Worse, employers seem to have fallen completely for the idea that a university degree is essential – when it is often a handicap.

One of the most intelligent people I've ever known never went to Uni. I remember a moment with John Muggeridge that illustrates (John had almost got himself kicked out of Cambridge). We were sitting at the famous dining room table, discussing some obscure point of something or other and found ourselves stumped.

At the same moment, we both said, "We'll have to ask David. He knows everything

For many people, college is a corrupting, demoralising experience. They imagine they are independent when they are in fact parasites, living off their parents or off others and these days often doomed to return home with a sense of grievance and no job.

They also become used to being in debt – a state that previous generations rightly regarded with horror and fear.

I guess this officially makes me part of a "previous generation". Thanks Pete.


These two nuns walk into a cafe in New York...

It's like the opening of a joke,

but it really happened, and I'd have killed to be there.

One cold January I was at our sister monastery in the Bronx and had accompanied another nun who had business in NYC. My first trip to the Big Apple! The prioress had insisted that we have a little treat so we stopped in a café, anxious to get warm with a cup of coffee.

Imagine the scene: a little café full of people, either bustling about or chatting at tables while warming their frozen hands around steaming cups of java. Two nuns walk through the door and it seems like all eyes turn their way. One patron calls out, "Sisters, you have made a lot of people happy today!"

We smiled our biggest smiles, the words warming our frozen cheeks. But what does one say to that?

I felt so small, so human, and so humbled that I just wanted to drop down on the floor and say, "I'll try harder, I promise!"

It's about why God likes habits on nuns.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Finished another one

Sort of.

I finished the figure, and decided I was sick of looking at it, so have moved on. Procrastinator Girl spent two weeks working up the nerve to tackle the hand. It was a pain.

For the next one (Bernini's David...the one with the sling and the determined expression) I'm switching to an HB. 2B was what gave it the grainy look. Too soft for the paper I'm using.

It occurred to me as I was doing all the muscles in the torso and arms, that the Baroque is definitely where we get our models for comic book superheroes.

And of course, where do the Baroque guys get their superheroic, idealised torsos?

The Classical world.

Once you know to look for it, the Belvedere Torso is all over town.


Is that all?

L'Osservatore Romano has come out with another winner. It has published a brief article laying out exactly what it takes to be a real Catholic.

The real Catholic "recites prayers before meals and, in [his] own peculiar way, believes in the life thereafter."

Doh! That's it?!

And there I was getting all geared up to start trying to get back into the swing of that whole One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith thing. I went to Confession and Holy Communion this weekend and everything. Trying to repent of my sins, remember to...well, not pray exactly, but at least give up my habitual cursing and fist-shaking at God...

But apparently, all that is passe these days.

So glad to have that cleared up.

Apparently the sample they are giving is none other than Homer Simpson.

Yep. Not making it up.

Ah, good old Novusordoism.

Making us feel less guilty for being worthless slackers since 1965.

The Telegraph comments:
Once a staid and sober paper of record, L'Osservatore Romano has ventured into popular culture in the last three years under a new editor, commenting on everything from The Beatles and The Blues Brothers to the blockbuster film Avatar and the Harry Potter books and films.

Yep. It's an old person trying to be hip and cool. And there is nothing more excruciatingly, exquisitely embarrassing...


God Curseth the Thief

I will bring it forth, saith the Lord of hosts: and it shall come to the house of the thief, and to the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it, with the timber thereof, and the stones thereof.
Zechariah 5:4


See Italy's treasures

Art Tuesdays
(issue no. 129/2010 / October 7, 2010)
New initiatives launched by MiBAC

How to attract new visitors to Italy's state museums? Open the doors for free once a month. To further promote Italy's vast cultural heritage, the Italian ministry of culture (MiBAC) is taking that idea a step further and offering once-a-month evening entrance to Italy's museums-for free.

As part of the initiative, Art Tuesdays, art-lovers can visit favourite masterworks or discover new ones that are housed in Italy's most popular state museums on the evenings of October 26, November 30 and December 28. On these days, admission will be free from 7pm to 11pm. (See below for a list of Tuscany's participating museums; for a list of those in Italy, see

But you won't see me there. Actually, apart from the (ridiculous) €14 it costs to get into the Vatican Museums, I find the big galleries to be very reasonably priced. The last time I went to the Capitoline, I think it was only €8 (just ignore the sign on the counter that says "exact change only". Everyone who has lived here for more than a week will tell you of the weird obsession Italian shop workers have with asking you for change. "No, actually, I don't have fifty centesimi. Why? Because I've had to give exact change to everyone I've bought something from today, and I've run out." Just one of those eight billion weird little things about life in Italy that will drive you mad if you let it...)...wait what was I saying?

Oh yes. The galleries. I think the Borghese costs nine. And it's not like the ten bucks you spend to get into the wretched Vancouver Art Gallery. I remember spending ten bucks to get into the VAG and being rewarded by a display of faux-Salish masks made out of running shoes. Clever wot?

No, in an Italian art gallery, it doesn't take more than about thirty seconds to forget all about the money (and aggravation) you spent getting in.

I'm talking about huge Renaissance palaces bursting with Caravaggios, Raphaels, Michelangelos, Ghirlandaios, Titians and Berninis. In fact, you don't really even have to go to a gallery. I was in Sopra Minerva the other night. Prayed at the tomb of Fra Angelico, got a long long gaze at an annunciation fresco by Filippino Lippi, and bought the postcard for 50c.

So much art in this city. So much of it the kind of art you spend your whole life looking at in picture books.

Honestly, people who moan over a lousy ten bucks don't deserve anything better than the VAG.


Rispetto e ammirazione da tanti inglesi

Yes, it was a bit of a pleasant surprise all 'round.


New Music Rule

Vivaldi for hot weather; Beethoven for when it gets chilly.

And of course, only Von Karajan for Beethoven.

Got the Egmont on right now, but it's Hogwood. It's OK, but...


The Great Reformers

As long-term readers of my blogs have learned, over the last few years, I have developed a strong aversion to talking, writing or even thinking much about liturgy. I have for some years shied away from the usual Trad topics, except for making the occasional joke at the expense of the Grey Pony-Tail and Wrinkly Birkenstock crowd. I take a look fairly regularly at Rorate Caeli and even at NLM now and then, just to keep my nose in the latest topics.

But friends from my liturgy-ranting days will recall that I am (almost) not exaggerating when I say that the Liturgy Wars put me into enraged convulsions and that it is best all 'round if I leave such things to those whose constitutions are better suited. (Those who are, in a word, less Irish).

I offer the following as an example of the sort of thing that has inspired me to stay carefully away from Traditionalist blogs, discussion groups and websites:
The great reformer Martin Luther, appalled by aberrations committed on relics, fiercely took issue with the Catholic Church. Indeed, who would not be scandalized by reports that when priests were compelled to celebrate only one Mass a day to stifle the abuses surrounding Mass stipends, some had the temerity to simulate the Mass and raise the relic of a saint at the supposed moment of consecration? I can still hear my mentor Adrian Nocent's dismissive remark when he listened to stories of relics, private apparitions, and saccharine devotions: "It's another religion!"

This was from a book by Anscar Chupungco's What, Then, is Liturgy?: Musings and Memoir, Claretian Publications. Adrian Nocent, Rorate Caeli informs me "was one of the leading lights of the liturgical reform of the 1960's."

It makes me want to go live in a cave.


Passel of new blogs

Huh. Turns out there's a whole world of Italian Trad Catholic bloggers out there.

Who knew?

Here's one on vocations that looks pretty nice.

They seem to like these Poor Clares of the Immaculate. Apparently the Franciscans of the Immaculate have some contemplative sisters. Someone might want to remind them to mention it on their North American website. Nice if they would let someone in the Anglosphere know about it.

Don't fret too much about the language. Italian is one of those languages that, if you just stare at it long and hard enough, magically turns into English, (albeit, English with funny spelling). Like one of those optical illusion picture things. But if the magic fails to work for you, there's always this.

All you ever wanted (or needed) to know about Italian Trads at Lots of interesting articles on lots of different topics (though if I were running it, I might do something about the eyesore colour scheme).


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Civitas? Name rings a bell...

Oh yeah, they're the ones who told us we need to abolish Christmas because it might upset "minorities".

"Islamic face-veil part of 'British way of life'"

Yeah. Civitas. That's the one. Think tank. Big Labour Party think tank.

"Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!"

Right. Got it.

Bennie's getting the band back together

Been waiting to hear from Broadhurst for some time.

At its meeting on September 28th, the PCC of Folkestone St Peter unanimously requested the Churchwardens to approach The Archbishop of Canterbury, our Diocesan Bishop, in order to consult about the wish of the PCC and many of the congregation to join the English Ordinariate of the Catholic Church when it is erected. We are anxious that this should be made as easy as possible, not only for us, but for the diocesan family of Canterbury that we shall regretfully be leaving behind.

Fr. Finigan comments:
He said that he had intended to continue in his post until he was 70, but that he will now resign in order to smooth the way for the appointment of his successor. He then said that he intended to join the Ordinariate as soon as it is established. This announcement was met with warm applause. The Bishop quipped that the applause was from those who are not going to join the ordinariate and would be pleased to see the back of him.

Now they're going to learn in fine, bulleted point detail about how much fun it is to be a believing Catholic and live in England...

Welcome aboard ladies and gentlemen. Here are your buckets.

Now start bailing.


Doing it the old fashioned way

On the other hand, the ones who have failed to keep up with the times,

seem to be doing just fine, thanks...

More pretty nun gazing here.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Just in time

for the order she founded to go extinct

from Vaticantwoism.

How're vocations going, ladies?

Oh the ironies of our times.

I'm so dumb

This wasn't for grinding grain...

It's an olive press.

I wrote, "The big round things were for grinding grain. You put a wooden beam through the square hole in the middle, and hooked it up to a turny-thing in the middle and to a bunch of donkeys at the ends, and they just plodded along all day."

But the part about the donkeys was probably true.

Just got a note back from those American nuns in Molise. I think I'll go next weekend.


And I bet it's LOUD!

That thing has to be made with a whole sheep.

The Restoration

Giotto Crucifix Restored.

(ANSA) - Florence, October 14 - A five-year restoration of a crucifix from the Florence church of Ognissanti (All Saints) is over and the newly acclaimed artefact will take its rightful place there as the work of Giotto, restorers said Thursday.

It was only during the painstaking restoration that the 14th-century work was definitively attributed to the pre-Renaissance master.

The large (467x360 cm) cross took so long to be renovated because it was in a "very poor state of repair," lead restorers Marco Ciatti and Cecilia Frosinini said, and the supporting structure had to be "thoroughly bolstered".

They pointed out that cutting-edge solvents were used to remove centuries of grime while "extremely delicate attention" was taken with the coloured glass in Christ's halo, which was "in very bad shape".

As well as enabling the attribution, the restoration work also "revealed a lot of new information about how the artist worked," they said.

In particular, they said, infrared reflectography examination allowed experts to discover preparatory drawings under the painting.

The crucifix will be unveiled in the Ognissanti church on November 6, although art fans will have a chance to get a sneak peek at it on October 18-22 at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence's world-famous restoration workshop, where the work was done.

As befitting its new status, the cross, which had been relegated to a little-visited sacristy, will be placed in a transept chapel and illuminated by a special new LED system.

"Hitherto, the work only attracted the attention of experts, but from now on it will inspire that of the international public," said the head of Florence's museums, Cristian Acidini.

The Ognissanti Crucifix was previously thought to have been by a relative or pupil of Giotto.

Dating to the second decade of the 1300s, Giotto would have painted it some 20 years after completing his famous monumental crucifix in Florence's Santa Maria Novella church.

Although renowned for his skill at life drawings at a time when stylised Byzantine art dominated, much of Giotto's life, travels and training remains shrouded in mystery.

He was born in Tuscany of a father named Bondone, studied with Cimabue, one of the greatest painters of his day, and completed his greatest masterpiece, the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, in around 1305.

However, the year and precise place of his birth and his family's background remain subjects of dispute, as does the order in which he completed his works and even their attribution.


Hey, have you noticed something?

It's quiet.

Too quiet.

Has anyone spotted any more Pope-Bashing since the British visit?


Here's one for Six-Bells John

If you were going to guess, where would you say the world's biggest bagpipe museum was?

Would you believe Scapoli?

Yep, traditional Italian music isn't all about that annoying accordian guy playing the Godfather theme next to your table at lunch. ("If I give you twenty Euros, will you go away and spend an hour rethinking the direction of you life?")

The Museo della Zampogna is in the small town of Scapoli about three hours drive from here, in the provice of Isernia, the southern bit of Molise.

And when the Italians do bagpipes,

they don't mess around.


Real folk music

Not the fakey Joan Baez kind.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why can't a man be more like a woman?

Just had a discussion with a friend about men. She's been dropped by one (for the third time, apparently).

She observes:

"The only thing I know about the humans is that men are sort of like girls".

Yep. Pretty much.


And don't get me started on apostate Catholic Democrat politicians...

John C. Wright explains the Massachusetts Problem:
Look, it is merely a historical fact that since Maryland was colonized by Catholics, who brought nine barrels of Holy Water over the Atlantic from Rome, Seven Stars and Seven Stones and One White Tree (that can still be seen in Annapolis) whereas Massachusetts Bay was colonized by Puritans, who smashed out all the stained glass widows aboard the Mayflower, and removed the Holy Rood Screen, so that Massachusetts was therefore helpless before the devils summoned up by desperate Red Indian Medicine Men: to this day, Massachusetts has had a much more severe Vampire infestation problem than Maryland, not to mention the Deep Ones at Innsmouth, Witches in Salem, the Horror at Dunwich and the Joker incarcerated at Arkham.

Something everyone knows about Massachusetts. I mean seriously, look at the facts. Boston College. The Kennedys. The Boston Globe. The Paulists.

And Cthulu obviously has a summerhouse there.

H/T to Zach.

רק הוא אלוהים

I think the Holy Father was speaking more metaphorically, but he brought something up that needs to be talked about:

Only God is God.

Violent acts are apparently made in the name of God, but this is not God: they are false divinities that must be unmasked; they are not God.

False deities need not apply.

I have said this many times. The nature of God is to be always the same. There are a lot of things God cannot do.

God does not change. Still less does He change his mind about things. He does not, cannot, contradict Himself. He cannot be anti-rational, since rationality is one of the divine attributes given to us as His image.

I don't claim to know whether the man, Mohammed, actually had a visit from a supernatural being, but the religion he created would indicate that if he did, that being was not God or any of his holy angels.

The thing, the monster he describes in that religion, cannot be God, since it contradicts the things we know God must be.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

These nuns

are actually Americans. The monastery was originally founded in the 8th century and was abandoned for some centuries. It was given to these nuns, from Regina Laudis in Connecticut, by the Abbey of Monte Cassino.

They let you come to visit.

I think I'm going to visit.

The weird thing about Tony Blair

is that he thinks he believes in God.


Dale's back

He says "for sure" this time.

Good. I was getting tired of holding the "wittiest Catholic blogger" bag all by myself.

Now if we can just get Steve to get over his "I'm suffering for art too much to share with you plebes" period, we'll be able to get the band back together.


Love Divine

I was just reading about John Wesley's ideas about Christian Perfection. Unfortunately, it started a "movement", (we at the Picnic are opposed to "movements") the Holiness Movement. Like all good ideas not guided by the Church it ended badly, with Pentecostalism and all sorts of tent-oriented weirdness. But the idea itself seems in its origin to be more or less indistinguishable from St. Francis de Sales' doctrine of holiness attainable in ordinary life.

Apparently, I'm not alone in that realisation. Wesley was persecuted for his attempts to bring the Anglos back to a real Christian faith.

Too bad it failed.

From 1739 onward, Wesley and the Methodists were persecuted by clergymen and magistrates because they preached without being ordained or licensed by the Anglican Church. This was seen as a social threat that disregarded institutions. Ministers attacked them in sermons and in print, and at times mobs attacked them. Wesley and his followers continued to work among the neglected and needy. They were denounced as promulgators of strange doctrines, fomenters of religious disturbances; as blind fanatics, leading people astray, claiming miraculous gifts, attacking the clergy of the Church of England, and trying to re-establish Catholicism.

Wesley felt that the church failed to call sinners to repentance, that many of the clergymen were corrupt, and that people were perishing in their sins. He believed he was commissioned by God to bring about revival in the church; and no opposition, persecution, or obstacles could prevail against the divine urgency and authority of this commission. The prejudices of his high-church training, his strict notions of the methods and proprieties of public worship, his views of the apostolic succession and the prerogatives of the priest, even his most cherished convictions, were not allowed to stand in the way.

I wish again that Mr. Wesley's ideas had taken hold in the Anglican Church, as he meant them to.

Things would have been better.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Orwell's Picnic Contest

Weird Things You Really Said Once and Actually Meant at the Time

I'll go first.

"I can't become a nun now. I've just bought a new hat!"

Spoken on the phone to a friend who was studying in Rome at the time. He was on his cell phone and was dodging the insane Rome traffic. I had just come home from a week-long retreat in a Benedictine monastery.

OK, now you.


Autumn in the Hedge

Also, honourable mention, and a silver star, for the Evil Vicar who sent me a note last night yesterday some day recently from a really far-away time zone:

How did you know that we all wanted to live in the Brambly Hedge books? I did once have a source for them. Let me see if I can dig it up again.

But only silver because I do seem to recall a similar promise regarding a certain Young Fogey's Handbook, that never materialised.

I'm still trying to find an online copy of the Brambly Hedge picture I have framed in my apartment. My cold, marble-floored Italian apartment. Not a lot of gingham or tiny floral pattern stuff in this country.

The picture is of the place I hope to wake up in when I've breathed my last. It is of a large room in one of the Brambly Hedge houses, a four poster bed, tea under the cozy steaming from the spout, toast in the toast rack, sun streaming in past the fireplace. My archetypal vision of home.

I've never really been all that keen on heaven, at least not as it is usually depicted. I don't think the Glorious Amazing Magnificalness of the Heavenly Hosts praising God in his Glorious Amazing Wonderfulness really does it for me.

I'm more a feet up by the fireplace with a good book sort of person. With maybe a daily walk through the heavenly version of the Cheshire fields and tea with the little old ladies after Evensong.

Where do I sign up for that afterlife? Maybe in the Brambly Hedge afterlife, I could finally get around to memorizing some poetry.



Thanks Sue! What would I do without my loyal readers?!


Readers of the Month

Gold stars for

Tom and Andrew.

Tom from New York, come on up to the desk and stand in front of the class.

Goethe's Italian Journey arrived this week in the office and I am so keen to get into it, I am hardly able to think about the End of the World and All Good Things today. I need to put it in my bag so it's off the desk so I don't keep looking at it.

I would like to note that Tom has already established himself as the champion book-sender in the class along with John from California. I've been enjoying Scruton's On Beauty and Culture Counts for some time.

And Andrew just sent the following note:

I will cheerfully send you Sing Lustily, which I have enjoyed for years; since I own a copy, I can "legally" make you one from it (as I have done for many people already).

I agree with you about Wesley.

Ok you guys, come on up here and get your stars.

And everyone, I'd like you all to keep in mind the way to become the teacher's pet around here. Send me really great stuff I can't get in Italy and agree with everything I say.

(But don't forget, spelling, grammar and neatness always count.)


Oh poor, lovely England!

It makes you weep.

I actually rather approve of the Wesleys, and wish that the Methodist thing had had more traction in the Anglican Church. I think things would have gone better in the long run had the Anglos taken the Wesleyan thing on board. Which would have meant that things would have gone better for England in general.

The part of Cheshire my family is from has lots of Methodist chapels and Methodism was quite a force up there among the labouring classes. In fact, my Mum and Uncle Mike were both baptised and raised Methodist, and I think it did a lot towards making them both the deeply kindly and essentially true-hearted and innocent people they grew up to be.

Tattenhall, of blessed memory, has a large and very beautiful Methodist chapel on the High Street that has a plaque on the front saying that John Wesley himself once preached there. In the year I lived there, it was converted into an expensive semi-detatched. I peeked in the windows and the person who lives there seems quite posh, as one might expect in that part of Cheshire. Furniture very modern.

Poor, poor England.


Close your eyes, click your heels together three times...

Oh please oh please oh pleaseohplease...


If you're going to do Protestant

do it like this.

Maddie Prior and the Carnival Band. I was introduced to them by my little gaggle of mad, happy Anglican friends in Halifax about ten years ago.

Maddie Prior did some research and found out that these mostly Wesleyan hymns, when they were first adopted by Methodist congregations, were often sung accompanied by instruments and sung quite "lustily and with good cheer".

And Christmas carols sung properly.

The music doesn't start on this 5 minute video until about 2:30, so you can skip a bit, but I would like you all to listen to it, particularly if you have anything to do with parish music. I don't ever, EVER again want to hear a congregation sing this delightful carol as though it were a dirge.

It's Christmas! for Pete's sake, cheer up!

Come on! BELT IT OUT!!


Monday, October 11, 2010


Two stories today and both illustrate the same point.

Another silly ceremony has been conducted in Canada and AFP has run the headline, "Woman is ordained as Catholic priest in Canada".

In Ireland, Bishop William Lee has announced to the press that he is "not opposed" to women's ordination.

The media won't grasp this, because they are ideologically opposed to the truth of the matter, but it is a pretty simple one. A woman who wants to be ordained a priest is not a Catholic. A bishop who says women can be ordained is not a Catholic.

The Catholic religion is a set of beliefs. The thing you have to do to be a Catholic is to believe those beliefs. It's not an ethnicity. It's not a nationality.

It's really that simple.


I really really need someone to make this book into a movie

Someone call Spielberg...

right away.


It's autumn here too, but difficult for my northern instincts to tell.

One of the ways is the fruit in the shops. In Italy, the fruit and veg is always strictly seasonal and we are nearing the end of peach season. And that means, it's jamming season again. The last of the peaches start to look rather unappetising and that is the time to buy ten pounds of them and turn them into honey and whiskey peach preserves. MMmmm...

The picture above is one of the ones from Jill Barklem's Brambly Hedge books. Her books perfectly capture the kind of sweet and innocent English country culture that we all so long for, the same ancient (and ultimately Catholic) culture that formed the English soul. So much has been lost, but the desire for it remains cell-deep in many of us. They illustrate that concept so dear to the English: home.

When I went to England this summer one of my list of things to get was more of the books. But they seem to be out of print, since I could find none in the bookshops, either new or second hand.

I've put the Complete Brambly Hedge collection on my Amazon Wish List, but they really must be out of print, since I see the prices are incredibly high. I suppose other people think the same thing I do and have started making them "collectors' items". Damn.


In the Latest Cool Archaeology News: Students discover lost medieval town

Yep, archaeology still the coolest science going.

Amateur archaeologists in the Vale of Glamorgan believe they have uncovered a lost medieval village. The Time Signs archaeology students made the discovery behind the railway viaduct at Porthkerry near Barry.

They are working with tutor Karl James Langford to prove his theory that the village of Whitelands existed. A house platform which forms part of the manor house has been found as well as big quantities of medieval pottery and evidence of other buildings.

When I was in England, I read about a dig near an ancient Benedictine monastery in Wales where they were desecrating excavating the graves of monks. The thought popped into my head, "What would they do if they found one incorrupt."


AN EARLY medieval brooch found in the remnants of a turf fire in a north Kerry range earlier this year, went on permanent display at the Kerry County Museum in Tralee last night.

The Martara brooch, was found in the grate of the range of Sheila and Pat Joe Edgeworth of Martara, Ballylongford last February.

Now, of course, the coolest part of this cool archaeology story is the brooch.

Look at that thing. Wow!

But can you spot the another excellently cool bit?

There are still turf fires in Ireland.


I'll leave you with this list of deeply offensive Irish jokes:


Did everyone else know about this already?

Activists from Pygmy communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo want the United Nations to set up a tribunal to try government and rebel fighters accused of slaughtering and eating Pygmies during fighting in the north-east of the country.

That Pygmies have "activists"?

Is the world weird, or what?


Fr. Rutler on Vegetarianism

They're not just materialist fetishists, they're inconsistent.

Why only animals? he asks:
Vegetables have reactive impulses. Were we to confine our diet to creatures that lacked sense and do not even respond to light, we could only eat liturgists and liberal Democrats.


H/T to Jeff.


A Corpse Decaying: "People travel miles to jump from our multi-storey carpark."

I didn't vote in the last general election. I think I could have, but I didn't. I'm pretty sure that a lot of other people have given up.

What is going to save Britain now?
In Ruraltown, the elderly are like dirty, damaged vultures. They converge at awful jumble sales. They rummage and fight for socks and underpants that have been torn from the stiff corpses of their previous ancient occupiers.

In Ruraltown, I have seen a woman die in the doctor’s surgery. No one noticed until 3.00 pm.

It is always cold and dark. Unemployment in Ruraltown is, of course, staggeringly high. This part of Ruralshire is so divided along class and racial lines that it is hardly the old shire at all but a collection of tribal groupings.

Some of its outlying towns are concrete wastelands too terrible to describe.

People travel miles to jump from our multi-storey carpark. They truly do.


I once saw a bloke in custody, who was in my year at Ruraltown Comp. The Sergeant asked him if he could read and write before offering him the custody record to sign. He said he couldn’t. I interjected. ‘I was at school with you buddy, you can read and write for God’s sake’ he said ‘I used to be able to but I forgot how’. He hadn’t had to read or write anything for 20 years, so he simply forgot how. An ‘agency’ for everything, all on a plate. A filthy mean little plate, but a plate none the less.

I don't know.



They really are a howl.

H/T to Vic who is in New York right now attending a Comic Con.


New blog

Hey everybody, this is Dave.

How to process

Newman mass part 1 from Marco Aurelio Guillen on Vimeo.

The Toronto Oratory celebrating a Mass in honour of the beatification of Cardinal Newman.

I once saw an Oratorian take a group of about 20 teenagers and get them processing solemnly down the aisle of this church with five minutes preparation. It's like they've got some kind of superpower. They don't fly or have laser vision (except Fr. Robinson if someone is coughing during Vespers) but they have +20 liturgical superpowers.

I remember once going to St. Augustine's seminary for a conference, and they were having a big important Mass for an important feast day. It might have been St. Augustine. I was told that it would be worth going to since they intended to pull out all the liturgical stops. I, who had by that time already spent several years attending only the Oratorians' Masses, was skeptical.

Sure enough, the priests at St. Augustine's thought there was no difference between 'processing' and 'strolling' down the aisle.

More of these videos here.

P.S. I really really miss St. Vinnie's, my parish in Toronto. If I'd stayed there I might not have had to change my Catholic Church factional affiliation on Facebook from "Trad Catholic" to "Bad Catholic". Any Oratorian reading this, could you please give my regards to the St. Vincent's Counting Ladies, and tell them I miss them. Tx.


Sunday, October 10, 2010


Been doing a little homework




Homosexual Militants Disrupt Peaceful Religious Service

It's all in the headlines.

Bias? What bias?


The Environutters have acquired a new convert

In response to their Go Green or We'll Blow up Your Kids campaign,
Osama bin Laden has expressed concern about global climate change and flooding in Pakistan, in an audiotape aired on the Internet, his first public remarks since March, a monitoring group said Friday.

The number of victims caused by climate change is very big… bigger than the victims of wars,”...

"...So it looks like I've got some catching up to do..."


Bargue by Sight-Size

Here's the next stage. Darkening in the darker shadows and modeling the half-tones.


This guy is becoming a one-man Youtube industry

This one had a paltry 220,000-something views.

This one 4.5-something million.

I laff.

Dear Old Spice Guy,

Could you please become President of the United States, Prime Minister of Britain and Canada and President of the European Union?



Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Some day


Liturgical Chicken

You can play this game by yourself or with someone else.

Click the link then click play.

With your finger over the stop button, see how long you can last.

I did 20 seconds. More or less until the woman started warbling.


Monday, October 04, 2010

Leonardo Copy

Many years ago, when I was a teenager, I tried to copy this drawing by Leonardo and failed.

Yesterday I conquered.

Thanks Andrea.

No pressure

It looks like the Environutters have outed themselves.

Believe it or not, this video was made by an environmental outfit trying to convince people in a "funny" way to get involved in "carbon control".

It has caught quite a bit of flack, with, apparently, people writing in saying they are so horrified by the video that they won't give them any more money.

It's too bad really, because in one of those little fluke things, the video really has revealed what the whole "carbon emission" "global warming" panic attack has really always been about.

But hey, you don't have to take our word for it...


Friday, October 01, 2010

Mustn't criticise the bishops

Ever. It's bad. Mean. Uncharitable.

Every. Thing. They. Do. Is. Perfect.