Friday, January 29, 2010

The Worst Person in the World

but the Catholics in Lazio seem to just luuuuuuuurrve her.

"il Foglio" had done something else. It had sent one of its top journalists, Marianna Rizzini, to explore the dioceses of the Lazio region in order to hear what its priests and faithful think about the Bonino candidacy.

The response of the first diocese surveyed, Viterbo, was unrelenting. The title: "Grassroots Church with Emma. Survey in Viterbo. Catholic opinion firmly, sometimes fervently, in favor of the pro-abortion, pro-divorce, pro-euthanasia candidate, who has called the embryo 'an inert lump'. Objections rare, and timid."

In effect, in Marianna Rizzini's report from Viterbo, the only ones who opposed Bonino were the "missionaries" of the Movement for Life, who dedicate their lives to seeing that children are born, not aborted.

So, NewChurch, how's that whole "New Springtime" thing workin' out for ye?

New Europe not that swish, really

New Europe: places where tractors are ministers, and people sit down to a dinner of boiled radiators.

I've said this several times lately, that it was not until I came to live in Europe that I really understood the term "eurotrash".

I should take some pictures to help those less fortunate than myself. There's always lots of them on the train.

Balanced reporting

CNN gets it right...


"It does appear to me, as I look at these signs, that ....uuuhhhh...which side is represented the most? Do we know?...We want to make sure that we report it fairly and squarely..."

Just at the moment when the March started from the Mall, my camera batteries crapped out. I was standing on the Hill close to the Capital Building, and thought I could just make it back to the hotel for the spares, so I made a dash. I was almost in time to get close to the front, but missed the first stages of the March.

JH and I spent two hours in front of the Supreme Court taking pictures of the countless thousands of people streaming past and when we were finally too tired to keep it up, we started walking back down the Hill. We were walking against the tide of humanity for an hour before we managed to get the hundred yards or so back to New Jersey Avenue where the hotel was, and when we finally turned away to cut across the park, there was still an hour or so's worth of people coming up the hill from the Mall.

I had been quite interested in talking to some of the counter-protesters and was hoping to get some of their comments recorded, so I was looking for them. Couldn't find them in the crowd though.

But of course, we already know that there were no










Maybe Mizz. Gesaman meant there are no young women on the other side of the issue.

I'd well believe it.

“The organizers are getting older, and it’s more difficult for them to walk a long distance,” says Stanley Radzilowski, an officer in the planning unit for the Washington, D.C., police department. A majority of the participants are in their 60s and were the original pioneers either for or against the case, he says.

So this raises the question: where are the young, vibrant women supporting their pro-life or pro-choice positions? Likely, they’re at home. “Young women are still concerned about these issues, but they’re not trained to go out and protest,” says Kristy Maddux, assistant professor at the University of Maryland, who specializes in historical feminism.

Goddess of Wisdom Enthroned in Former Nuns' Chapel in Halifax

Speaking of nuns... the Sisters of Charity of Halifax, (soon to be extinct) once kindly put me up at their motherhouse (now sold to developers) at Mount St. Vincent when I was between apartments. I like to recall the conversation I had in the little kitchen with one of the "nuns", a Sr. Pat, and a few other non-vowed ladies staying in their little hospitality wing.

Sr. Pat was bemoaning the order's inability to attract new vocations. She revealed (and this was ten years ago) that while they had a wonderful formation programme, developed by the most highly trained psychologists, they had not had a new candidate in fifteen years. This, she said, was because of the inability of young people these days to commit.

This was something that, naturally, I could not let go by.

I mentioned the indisputable fact that there were lots of religious orders who had to beat the candidates off with a stick at the front gate and that I personally knew at least six young women in Halifax who were seriously interested in religious life and were using the internet to search for a place to go.

"Not that the Sisters of Charity would be interested in any of them, of course."

"Why not?"

"Well, they are all looking for a community that has kept the habit, community prayer on a fixed schedule, a common life together in a convent, a unified apsotolic work...that sort of thing. They're interested in helping the destitute and promoting the Catholic religion."

"Well, I was one of the ones who wanted to keep the habit," said Sr. Pat in her purple polyester track suit.

Perking up at this little flicker of religious feeling I said, "Well, I'm pretty good with a sewing machine, I'm sure there are probably patterns lurking around in an attick somewhere. We could put something together for you in a weekend.

"I'm telling you, young people can commit just fine, you just have to give them something to commit to. And tantric meditation and hug-a-tree workshops are going to cut it with them. But if you put your habit back on, start praying the Divine Office every day in your chapel and got down to Barrington St. and started trying to help the heroin addicts, I'm sure you would get a lot of interest."

For some reason, this suggestion was not received enthusiastically.

This just in from a local correspondent in Halifax, NS.

I wanted to share with you more of the marvels of the post-Catholic
[Mount St. Vincent] university ; the latest is the planned destruction of the Evaristus Chapel at the Mount. I don't know if you were ever in the Chapel; by the time I first arrived at the Mount in the late 1970s, the interior had been "renovated" -- it was only built in 1951 -- but it was still a consecrated chapel. Despite the ugly blond wood furnishings, the Chapel had some very nice stained glass windows, a good working organ, and the Blessed Sacrament.

When I returned in 1995, they had just made the decision to remove the Blessed Sacrament, they abandoned the Baccalaureate Mass in favour of a "Celebration of Wisdom" -- and you can guess what *she* looked like. I know that weddings were still done in the Chapel, though I don't know how many of them were Catholic.

He adds the following post-script worthy of note:

...the Muslim students, who had always had a section of the Chapel for
their rugs and cardboard signs pointing the way to Mecca, wanted a space established in the main academic building (Seton Academic Centre), because they didn't like walking up the hill to pray...It was announced that Seton now had a "Multi-faith Prayer Room".

I dropped by the room today and entered. Several curtains
had been hung from the ceiling (to separate the sexes, I would guess). There were prayer rugs on the floor, no chairs or benches (much less prie-dieus), several bookshelves with nothing but Muslim books and brochures, and a sign on the door informing the world that the "multi-faith prayer room" was "administered by the Muslim Students Association.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I have to admit, I felt a faint twinge of my ancient nun-longing while in Washington.

At the place where all the groups had set up their displays, these sisters,

were parked right next to us. They're the real thing and helped direct me to Old St. Mary's for Mass on the morning of the march. The real thing.

I must be a pretty Bad Rad Trad though, the kind Shea really hates, because even though there were hundreds of nuns in evidence, it was only the ones with full gear that gave me the old nun-thrill. The Neo-con nuns in the nice habits that leave a little tuft of hair sticking out the top (as a nod to NewChurch?) left me flat. (Why do these groups think anyone wants to see a nun's hair, anyway? It's one of those little Novusordoland puzzles.)

Still, not to worry. All the good ones, the ones I would be interested in, wouldn't touch me with a 20 foot cattle prod, and at my age any nun group that would consider me is one I would recommend steering well clear of.

Some time I will tell you my theory on the Taxonomy of Nuns.

For some reason,

this resonates with me...


Probably the best Onion video I've seen. It rewards several viewings.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Open the pod bay doors, please Hal..."

"I'm sorry Hilary, I can't do that...Maybe you would like to play a game of chess? I play very well."

Yep, still having fun with the new hardware.

Still exhausted from the WORST TRAVEL EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE.

Broke my glasses and almost lost the new computer after I was re-routed through North Carolina and London, adding an extra seven glorious hours of travel time.

Why? Was it another EIGHT HOUR security lockdown at JFK? Did some six-year-old wander through the wrong door again?

No no silly, that was Saturday. On Sunday it was just snow.

Got home at nine pm Rome time Monday, after starting out at 2:30 pm Sunday, Washington time. Spent a lot of time on the trans-Atlantic flight trying to work out

a) what day it was

b) whether I was going to have been awake for more than 24 hours by the time I got to Heathrow

c) whether I ought to just give up in London, take a taxi to Euston station and get the train going as far north into the wilds of Scotland as the line would take me and then find a cave or a stone hut in which to live out the rest of my natural life doing penance for my sins.

Did I mention I broke my glasses?

Broke them.

My glasses.

Perhaps you're not paying attention.

I said, I broke MY GLASSES.

I hate the world and hope it dies soon and horribly.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Getting on the plane tomorrow at JFK but won't be anywhere near the net until Tuesday, so here are some highlights.

The National Gallery: rooms full of Rembrandt, rooms full of Vermeer, Van Dyke, Raphael, Goya, van Eyck, Holbein

and the only Leonardo this side of the Atlantic.

Kathleen takes in the culture.

The Dutch still lifes glowed off the walls, so beautiful they make you weep with joy.

When I was a kid, it was the Italians that did it to me, but now I think I'm all for the Dutch.

Those Prots just look so happy, and their world so clean and ordered.




Yes, more.

Ah, the press

Newsweek has asserted that there are no young women attending the March for Life.

Now, putting aside the statistical unliklihood of there being a crowd of 300,000 to 500,000 people in which one could find not a single young woman, the reaction to this news of any one who has ever actually attended a March for Life, either in Washington or Ottawa, was guffaws of incredulous laughter.

What will those guys come up with next?

Friday, January 22, 2010


This post has nothing to do with the March for Life.

(I'm tired. That's why not.)

I feel like this.

I have just ... ah...acquired a new computer. A Mac. My first, and I'm afraid of it.

It is sitting here on the hotel desk next to my regular computer and I'm afraid to touch it. I pushed its button once, and it started to make strange sounds, so I tried to turn it off. It wouldn't go off, so I closed its lid and now I am afraid of what will happen when I open the lid again.

I suppose I will have to start using it some time.

But I'm scared.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


In Washington. Buying all sorts of wonderful American things at the wonderful shiny American shops. Got a bucket of Tang, a jug of ibuprophen, eight boxes of Kraft Dinner and four packets of iron-on interfacing (it's a sewing thing I can't find in's for repairing vestments...oh never mind).

Also, got my hair cut. Loyal readers will recall the near-panic I was in a few months ago when faced with the necessity of getting my hair done in an Italian hairdresser's where no one spoke English. Well, isn't it nice to be able to communicate enough to say, "Please please, don't make me look Italian".

In fact, that has been the best part. People asked me when I got here what I wanted to do, and I said, "I want to be understood by everyone I talk to, and I want to understand everything everyone else says."

It's been great.

Mmmmmm...linguistic comprehension.

I love America.

We did get to the National Gallery and I got LOTS of pics. But I'm too tired right now to put them up. There may be some time tomorrow...

but honestly, probably not.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Of your charity...

The chap on the far left, our very good friend Greg, is having a rough couple of months since his dad passed away.

Of your kindness, please pray for his mum who is ailing and who has been one of our most loyal and lively O's P readers.

Hi to the Dipippos; you've got all kinds of people keeping y'all in their thoughts.

Washington Day 3

We're working early to get the stuff done to take off and view the art.

My jolly colleague, Kathleen Gilbert, our US bureau chief, and resident expert on all things Obama-y. LifeSitey goodness.

Being ... well ... old it has taken me a few days to recover from the time-shock. Up for 26 or 27 straight hours and muddled by the six hour time change, I have woken in a rather sorry state in the mornings, and been fading by three, so there hasn't been much more going on than a bit of shopping (Walmart!) and home-movie viewing, but today is the first day of March for Life activities and we're determined to go to the National Gallery.

So, stay tuned for lots of pics.

How I spent my Saturday night


At about 3:45 New York time, I was standing at the boarding gate counter, asking when we would be getting on flight AA4455 to Washington. I had just been chatting with a pilot with a charming southern American accent who had said he had heard they were clearing the terminal. Then we all turn around at the sound of these blue-shirted fellows coming down the hall shouting, "Everybody out, please clear the area, everyone please leave immediately."

I am now intimately familiar with the seating capacity of the faux marble floors of the American Airlines check-in concourse at JFK airport. My bum still retains a slightly flattened appearance.

My flight took off while I was being "screened" for the second time and I was put on the next one that left at ten pm New York time. Having got up at five, Rome time, to get to Fiumicino for a 10:30 flight, by the time I got to see the wearily smiling face of my long-suffering colleague who had been dispatched to pick me up at Reagan, I had been up for 25 hours.

Obviously, this traveling schtick is for the young.

Over at Moonbattery, the following comment summed up my feelings:
I can't say I blame the screeners. They're following orders from Washington. That'd be where Napolitano says military vets and Christians are the true terroists and where the candidate for head of TSA thinks global warming is more serious than guys trying to blow planes out of the sky.

Thanks alot 52%. Our nation's security is in the hands of The Three Stooges and The Keystone Kops. I feel so safe now.

I have to say, though, that the behaviour of some of the passengers failed to impress. I wish I had not packed my camera in checked baggage because the shrieking bleach-bottle "blonde" woman, (I would put her at about 65 but judging from the state of her skin she was more likely a 40 year-old Californian) would have been worth a photo essay on the glorious results of permanently aggrieved American feminism/leftism.

She was not the only one shrieking at the airport guy who was doing everything he could to solve our problems, but she was the most memorably voluble about her rights.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sorry guys

I thought I was ready to come back blogging, but really just don't have the mental energy to spare right now.

Maybe later.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A couple of years ago, I did something that is near the top of my list of 'things I ought to have done already', but for some reason, it seems largely to have slipped my mind. I wrote a book.

Well, I more or less wrote a book. I kind of compiled most of it from other sources.

The Early Life Issues
, a Briefing Book, was kind of my magnum opus as a pro-life researcher and digger-up-of-information. But the ethics section, apart from quotes from my favouritest book in the whole world, was me and me alone.

I was just re-reading it, having used it for reference for something I did on Friday, and I'm kind of surprised. It's pretty good.

I think I can't produce anything like this any more. I feel a bit like the post-relapse Charley in Flowers for Algernon, looking back on my smart period, and being amazed that I could do such a thing.

In the new philosophical view that supports both abortion and the new reproductive technologies, the body and the mind or soul are essentially separate[4], the body, the physical realities, are disparaged as being of secondary importance and the existence of a set and universal human nature denied. Man has no destiny other than what he creates for himself, and his nature is malleable according to private preference. Marriage, therefore, also has no transcendental nature but exists for whatever purpose decided upon by the individuals involved.

The difference between the pro-life perspective and the prevailing view of the world of medicine and law on new reproductive technologies is not only dependent upon the problem that artificial interventions in procreation invariably result in the death of persons at the embryonic, and therefore most vulnerable, stage. It is in fact a fundamental difference in anthropology, in understanding of the nature of man.

The chasm that exists between the pro-life and the prevailing philosophies regarding assisted reproduction, is created by the loss of the meaning of marriage and its relationship with the totality of the human person. In the new philosophies, marriage is merely a social contract created by the barest physiological and economic necessities and the held-over customs of past human societies. In this view, one held by almost the entirety of the contemporary medical, legal and scientific community, marriage has no transcendental[5] reality whatever and no intrinsic connection to the nature of persons. It can be entered into and left in the same way as a business contract. As we have seen with the advent of so-called “homosexual marriage” it has no bearing on the physical realities of human biology or procreation, which are considered to be “merely” physical functions distinct from the marriage “contract.”

Do you ever feel like Paul McCartney? Kind of like by this age, you've already done all the most important things you're ever going to do and the rest of it is just going to be a kind of sorry afterthought?


Friday, January 08, 2010

Ah yes, good old politics

the real kind, I mean. The kind where we pay attention to vote counts in by-elections and what the implications are of a split.

The Tories lost their overall majority on Harrogate Borough Council, North Yorkshire, in the year's first by-election - despite increasing their vote.

Liberal Democrat Greta Knight recaptured a Woodfield seat in a contest caused by the death of a councillor who had been elected as a Lib Dem but later defected to the Conservatives.

Labour, which narrowly missed taking second place in the previous election in 2007, came last behind the BNP, whose vote share also declined.

Something about this gives me a peculiar kind of thrill. Not a nice one, I'll be the first to admit, but a thrill nonetheless. You take what fun you can find in today's political landscape.

I'm flying to Washington, via New York, in a couple of weeks

and I've heard that the stepping up of "security measures" at US airports will include absolutely no racial or religious profiling whatever...

So, as a white, English speaking, Anglo-Irish-Canadian Catholic woman over age 35, I shall be sure to wear clean undergarments in anticipation of not being part of the target group.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

How to walk down the street

in Anglican

British culture is just so very helpful.

I hear they had snow in England this year

It was 18 degrees here on Christmas day. V. annoying.

So, I thought it was a good moment to revisit an old fave.

More on why journalism is failing

David Blevins, a former Washington correspondent for Sky News, was asked in 2008 whether the media in America and the UK understands "evangelical Christians," [note, in Britain, the term "evangelical Christians" functions as a euphemism for "believing" Christians, since the "mainstream" Christians like Catholics and Anglicans don't actually believe anything,] he said:
“Not at all. It’s important to remember that what appears in the newspapers is not an objective summary of the significant things that happened yesterday but an ideological selection based on the prejudices, agendas and assumptions of a relatively small group of people. Their ideology could be loosely defined as ‘progress will one day meet our needs.’ So as with other forms of thought that deviate from that ideological view, evangelical Christianity is either dismissed out of hand or reported in a manner that serves to reinforce the ideology!

Journalists hate Christianity. Most people who read newspapers and magazines and watch TV news are Christians. Ergo: journalists are failing to communicate intelligently to their audience (ie: their customers, the people who pay their expense accounts).

It's not that hard to figure out why the internet has killed even things as old, huge and fleshy as the New York Times.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I've always felt like a Gentile,

so I guess today's a good day.

"Rejoice in the Lord Alway". My first and still favourite Purcell anthem.

D - "Fail"

I'm thinking of a new meme for the new decade.

"Top Ten Things You Ought to Have Done Already and Will Now Probably Never Get Round To"

The rules

- Only people over forty can participate.

- You have to list real ones that really apply to you, not ones you think will get a laugh.

- Start with the worst ones first.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Warren on why journalism doesn't work

Winter solstice tomorrow (12:47 p.m. EST). I mention this baldly and up front as a little protest against the contemporary journalistic habit to be generous with interpretation, but stingy with facts. One must often scan through ill-written prose in fruitless search for the fact one is seeking -- the actual seat count from an election; the precise event and location at which some luminary was speaking; the source for some widely cited statistic; or even the actual date and time of an astronomical event.

Often all we get is the number killed. But that tends to be an instance from category three, above: a "widely cited statistic." In such a case, I want to know who provided the number. Then I would like to hear other numbers, from other sources -- for in my experience, whether a catastrophe is "natural," or the product of human malice, it must have happened in a specific jurisdiction. And within most of the specific jurisdictions of this world, games are being played with numbers.


Very often, a large part of my work consists of backtracking information from news sources (NYT, Guardian, Telegraph, BBC etc) to the actual place where the information comes from. Very often, and I mean very often, the source is actually providing information that is the precise opposite of the conclusion drawn by the news source.

I remember once
, in fact, when the news agencies merely anticipated the results of a given action and started writing stories about something that hadn't happened yet in order to make it start happening.

And it is a regular thing, as Warren says, to have to wade through hundreds of words of blather before finding the actual nut at the centre. In many cases, the actual vote count, jurisdiction, date, name or specific act isn't mentioned at all and I have to sift through dozens of pieces before being able to cobble together what actually happened. Sometimes it is impossible, even by calling the principles in the case.

I was just down at the Sala Stampa earlier this afternoon and commented to my friend the accreditation guy that when I got into this business I had no idea that journalists are the second most hated profession in the world. Silly me.

Monday, January 04, 2010

We've missed quite a few Purcell Wednesdays,

so here's a little catch-up

"Mark how readily each pliant string," The one I was just listening to on the CD as I was reading the news. Makes the doom n' gloom parade a lot easier to take. A bit like wearing a haz-mat suit. Protective brain gear.

Forgive my scepticism

Vincent Nichols:
"A secularist is just as dogmatic as the worst religious believer and sometime they are more stridently so."

But I have this knee-jerk never-trust-a-guy-in-a-pointy-hat thing, and I do rather wonder what, precisely, he meant by "the worst religious believers".

People who believe religious dogmas?

So hard to tell what liberals mean when they start using words.

Rome in December

This guy is my favourite Roman street musician. It seems to embody all the weirdness that is Rome to have a Vietnamese guy playing American pop tunes on the accordion on the Ponte Sisto, one of the oldest bridges over the Tiber.

And he really grooves. The day I took this picture, which was I think December 5th, he was playing the love theme from Titanic. The Ponte Sisto leads right onto the street where the parish is, so many's the time when I have come into the church humming the Simon and Garfunkle tune this guy was playing.

Beautiful day in Rome. This picture makes it look a lot more peaceful than it is.

Random bits of priceless art: 15th century triptych at Santa Barbara, an otherwise criminally novusordoed church down the lane from us.

More Christmas pics

A pre-Mass lounge-about, guarding the post-Mass spread from the ravenous hordes.

Urbi et Orbi the next morning. (Well, OK, it was noon, but when you've been up till three the night before, 11 am feels like a pretty early start.) Pretty good zoom on that camera huh?

Me sleepy. It was 18 degrees on Christmas day. Even the Romans, who bundle up when it dips below +20, were carrying their coats over their arms.