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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Just Asking

If former President Bush were to marry off his daughter at a bash with 400-500 guests at a cost of $3,000,000-5,000,000 and the airspace over the fashionable area where the wedding took place declared a "no-fly" zone for over twelve hours, would the outrage from media pundits over "abuse of privilege" or "wanton excess" etc. be any more deafening than their silence over former President Clinton doing same for his daughter?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Protestant Divine

I've been meaning to link to this website for some time now, Its proprietor is Clyde McLennan, an Australian Baptist minister and musician, and what this good man has done is make available a staggering number of hymn accompaniments, specifically for small churches with limited means but also, of course, anyone else, via MP3s, tastefully and well played by himself. What a godsend for this Catholic convert who still misses the glorious Protestant hymns, particularly those found in the 1940 Hymnal of the Episcopal Church! Yes, Catholic churches do use Protestant hymns these days but typically, nobody sings them which only serves to make their also typically wretched accompaniment all the more egregious.

I wish I could urge those who avail themselves of Mr. McClennan's treasury to make a donation but I cannot find anywhere on his website means of doing so (if I am mistaken, please let me know). Apparently Mr. McLennan is offering his invaluable efforts to up God, without asking for compensation from us. I am profoundly grateful to God and to him.

Thanks to Fr. Timothy Matkin.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thirty Years Late but Finally

From the New York Times:

Khmer Rouge Figure Is Found Guilty of War Crimes

Alas, he only got 19 years, which according to the article is considered lenient in Cambodia. In the U.S. however, he probably would claimed being abused as a child or somesuch and gotten even less. At least he will be behind bars until he is 86 years old.

I hope this is just the beginning. There are many more of those monsters that need to be brought to justice.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mrs. Thatcher famously said: "The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's' money" (well, she sort of said that). It is happening this very moment in the case England's much-lauded National Health Service and provides a useful harbinger what's to come with ObamaCare.

Axe falls on NHS services

NHS bosses have drawn up secret plans for sweeping cuts to services, with restrictions on the most basic treatments for the sick and injured.

Some of the most common operations — including hip replacements and cataract surgery — will be rationed as part of attempts to save billions of pounds, despite government promises that front-line services would be protected.

Patients’ groups have described the measures as “astonishingly brutal”.

An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered widespread cuts planned across the NHS, many of which have already been agreed by senior health service officials. They include:

* Restrictions on some of the most basic and common operations, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and orthodontic procedures.

* Plans to cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from budgets for the terminally ill, with dying cancer patients to be told to manage their own symptoms if their condition worsens at evenings or weekends.

* The closure of nursing homes for the elderly.

And many more: read it all.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Canem Law

Having long argued the Anglican Church is going to the dogs, this story hardly comes as a surprise.
St. Peter’s Anglican Church has long been known as an open and inclusive place.

So open, it seems, they won’t turn anyone away. Not even a dog.

That’s how a blessed canine ended up receiving communion from interim priest Rev. Marguerite Rea during a morning service the last Sunday in June.

According to those in attendance at the historical church at 188 Carlton St. in downtown Toronto, it was a spontaneous gesture, one intended to make both the dog and its owner – a first timer at the church — feel welcomed.
Ah yes, blessed inclusivity! When I was a young Episcopalian, only those confirmed into the church were permitted to receive. Later, in the disastrous year of 1976, the Episcopalians, as did other Anglicans, opened up Communion to "all baptized Christians." In the past ten years or so, more and more Episcopal and Anglican churches have dispensed with even that requirement, administering the host to just about anyone who shuffles up to the altar on his own two (and now, apparently, four) feet.

Communion for all (it's so inclusive, so egalitarian!) ultimately of course renders the sacrament meaningless, a point confirmed, inadvertently perhaps, by a parishioner who, while expressing surprise at witnessing the sacrilege committed by the priestess, as she placed the host on the "dog's wagging tongue" (at least the critter received correctly), nevertheless insisted "nobody felt like it was a big deal, because it wasn’t a big deal,” which pretty much describes the state of the Anglican church these days.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

In the New York Times today, read the sad story of a once grand property belonging to a once grand family. "Rokeby," a 195 year-old 42-room house sitting on 420 acres overlooking the Hudson River in upstate New York, is owned and occupied by the tenth generation of the family that built it, the Livingstons, who played a prominent part in the founding of this country and distinguished themselves for many generations to follow, over the years marrying into other distinguished clans. Alas, it appears at Rokeby the dynasty is nearing its end. From the article:
Populated by a colorful but mostly impecunious cast of Livingston and Astor descendants — who are struggling, sometimes with each other, to keep the house from falling down while tending to their own deeply individual destinies — Rokeby is a study in contrasts, a lively dialogue, as one inhabitant put it, “between the creatives and the historians."


Not many venture into the vast, shadowy front rooms, which are kept as a shrine to previous generations — a practice that irritates some members of the younger generation — and the French wallpaper is pocked with moisture stains and peeling off in sheets. In the shuttered, paneled Gothic library, Teddy Roosevelt’s photograph sits on a shelf thick with dust (Roosevelt was a pal of great-uncle Wintie Chanler); in a parlor, a bust of Julia Ward Howe, the abolitionist, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and a great-aunt, is propped on a chipped radiator. A marble plaque in the front hall is “in memoriam” to Stanford White, a family friend, who orchestrated a series of additions to the house in 1894.

Real life occurs in the rabbit warren of kitchens, pantries and servants’ bedrooms, and the small village of outbuildings — barns, cottages and carriage houses — through which family members, friends and tenants career like characters in a French farce.

Rokeby’s patriarch, Richard Aldrich, 69, the eldest in the 10th generation of Livingston descendants on this land, presides over them all with laconic humor.

“Maybe we are the museum,” said Mr. Aldrich, whose bent figure and stained clothes are testament to four decades’ worth of wrangling with his drafty, unwieldy house. “Part of the show, part of the exhibit. Like those people in period costumes doing those little vignettes. Except we’re not learning our lines. We have our roles set up for us.”
And this is priceless:
It slowly dawned on [Richard Aldrich's wife] Ania that while her husband’s family did not want any changes to the house or the crumbling objects in it, no one was cleaning much, either.

“I still think they think there is a servant hiding somewhere,” she said. “They are hoping if they wait long enough the servant will appear.”
The decline of Rokeby is symptomatic of the general decline of Anglo-American patriarchy in this country. Ruling classes come and go, of course, but the WASPs must surely have been the first to voluntarily cede their exalted rank rather then have it wrested from them, essentially walking away. So many WASPs, starting with my generation, the baby boomers, while prepping at St. Grottlesex and continuing onto Old Ivy just like their daddies and granddaddies before them, rather than then entering industry or business, threw it all up instead and became potters or cabinet makers; or signed on with non-profits or the government, or turned on, tuned in and dropped out, becoming life-long hippies like Mr. Aldrich (Harvard '63) above. For whatever reasons (I suspect it has much to do with their educations, regardless they received them at institutions like Andover and Exeter), my generation of WASPs and those following them have seemed all too willing to chuck the leadership generations before effortlessly assumed.

I find that sad but not achingly so. The revolutionary ideas of our founding fathers are as fresh and vibrant today as they ever were, perhaps more so these past two years. It matters little if many if not most of our forefathers' descendants have become dissipated, there are plenty of others, many quite new to this country, who are more than willing to take their place.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sizzle but Not the Steak

Is it just my imagination or is dressing up and playing Catholic on the increase among Protestants? Here you may read about this country's premier liturgical outfitters of Catholic vestments to Protestants, C.M. Almy & Son, in Greenwich CT, who are enjoying a banner (not felt, I hope) year, with sales of vestments and liturgical fashion accessories way up. Not surprisingly, Almy's biggest customers are Episcopalians (but followed by Catholics). More surprising, however, is that "Pentecostalists have become major customers."

Does this alb make me look fat?

Meanwhile, Christopher Johnson, in his Midwest Conservative Journal, points to a piece in the Boston Globe reporting the fairly staggering news that increasing numbers of Baptist ministers, particularly black Baptists, are taking the title of "Bishop"and are even dressing the part (in far more authentic and tasteful fashion than many of their Catholic counterparts, I should add).

All of this of course raises a question: why, after stripping the altars, burning the vestments, whitewashing the walls, smashing the statuary, stained glass, organs and icons at the onset of the Protestant reformation have virtually all the mainstream Protestant denominations restored so many of those previously despised elements of Romish worship to their own worship? The Globe article quotes a professor of religion who explains, with regard to the black Baptist bishops, that it is 'now possible because the 400-year-old fear of an all-powerful hierarchy has faded into a distant memory,' "and it now feels" 'safer to borrow and reappropriate historic practices that once were considered to be theologically problematic...' Perhaps.

I cannot help wondering, though, if the real reason behind Protestant efforts at the "Catholicization" of their churches and worship is an attempt to re-infuse the magnum mysterium that was lost in the reformers' mistaken attempts to return to the ecclesiology and practices of early Christian worship. I wonder also if these wistful modern restorers will ever realize how futile and empty their attempts are without concomitant recognition of the central element of the mass: the real presence in the Eucharist. For it is the actual presence of Christ that is the raison d'etre for all those glorious trappings of Catholic worship latter day Protestants seem to admire so much; without it they are no more than pretty decorations. Should you have any doubt of that, take a stroll sometime through the otherwise magnificent Riverside Church in Manhattan and note the palpably leaden emptiness of the place, especially when you reach the apse.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Digital Ghettos

The comedian Chris Rock says: "Every town has the same two malls: the one white people go to and the one white people used to go to." That sad observation apparently obtains for social networking sites as well.
Microsoft researcher says MySpace hit by "white flight" to Facebook

Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd argues in a chapter of the new book Digital Race Anthology that white people essentially abandoned MySpace for Facebook as the number of minority users of MySpace increased.

Global Warming

Thanks to Augustine)

Friday, July 16, 2010

They're Gonna Love this in Saigon

"Today we have two Vietnams, side by side, north and south, exchanging and working."

Has, perhaps, the good congresswomen confused Vietnam for Korea? Whatever, it's one of those places.

(Thanks to the MCJ)

When I Use a Word it Means Just What I Chose it to Mean

Reader Doogie comments on my earlier post about the proposed progressive agenda for the Diocese of Jacksonville:
I love that 'dialogue' word when these groups try to pull off their stunts. I've lost the original URL, but about five years ago, Diogenes at what is now Catholic Culture wrote:
Traditional practices are assailed, not directly, but by non-stop pleas for dialogue. The engines of dialogue are designed to favor the innovator -- no one, after all, says "I think we should begin a conversation about why things should stay as they are" -- whence dialogue begets diversity begets innovation, and presto! the need for dialogue vanishes. "I wish we could stop talking about this."
It will make sense if you, like the innovators, simply regard "dialogue" as a transitive verb; and contrary to the estimable Diogenes, "conversation" is actually used in conjunction with "dialogue." Ms. Schori and her minions at the Episcopal Church are old hands at this and I am sure the Catholic progressives have picked up on it. Thus, when one of them suggests "having a conversation" on a controversial topic, it signals their intention to "dialogue" the opposition into submission.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Credit Where Credit is Due

My lack of love for the game of soccer is surpassed only by that for those vuvuzela horns incessantly blown by fans at matches these days, suggesting the sound of a swarm of mutant giant flies. Nevertheless, here is a player whom we should most heartily applaud (from the Catholic News Agency).
Soccer player who scored winning World Cup goal promises to make pilgrimage

Madrid, Spain, Jul 14, 2010 / 06:05 pm (CNA).- Spanish soccer player Andres Iniesta, who scored the winning goal during the World Cup final in South Africa, has promised to walk the Way of St. James, which leads to Santiago de Compostela.

The Way of St. James is a pilgrimage route that for centuries brought the faithful from across Europe to the city of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of the saint are venerated.

According to the Spanish newspaper, Marca, months before the 2010 World Cup, the members of the Spanish team sent the newspaper sealed envelopes with the promises they would keep if they won the title.

Marca opened the envelopes after Spain’s historic victory on Sunday and found that Iniesta, along with Fernando Torres and Carlos Marchena said they would walk the Way of St. James.

Iniesta also revealed his promise in an interview prior to the World Cup. Speaking on Spanish television he said he would make the pilgrimage “somehow…I’ll do it however I have to!” His teammate Sergio Busquets, who was with him, made the same promise.
¡Bravo, Iniesta! That surely must please our Lord and also serves as a welcome counter to the less-than-savory off-game activities of some of your peers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oh, Lord, Kumbayah

As a relatively new Catholic, I cannot say I have pondered much the state of Christ's Church in places like Mississippi. But if this remarkable item, taken from the pages of the Mississippi Catholic, has veracity, Holy Church in the Magnolia State is seriously close to flatlining.
Religious communities offer visions, ideas for future

JACKSON — In June, the Mission and Ministry in Mississippi Task Force Committee held meetings with the leadership of religious order priests and religious communities of sisters and brothers to discuss, according to Bishop Joseph Latino, “how we can all coordinate our efforts to best meet the needs of the parishes and missions in our diocese.”
Ah, that has a familiar ring! As a former Episcopalian, I am well familiar with the obfuscatory language of an institution in decline. Permit me to translate: our churches are emptying by the day and we're running out of money. Expect wholesale closings and parish mergers.
Below are some of the responses from the two gatherings:
+ We can look at our shortage of priests as a “scary” time or as an exciting time. How can we help our people see these changes as an opportunity for growth?
Are you, like me, beginning to smell a big, fat commie rat?

No? Read on, then.
+ We must face the reality that with the tremendous decrease in priests, people will be more and more dependent on religious, lay persons and lay ecclesial ministers in the future.
Becoming clearer now? Brings to mind "never let a serious crisis go to waste," in this instance a last-chance opportunity for post-Vatican II reformers to push those anachronistic male priests into the background and let "the "people" run the show; to transform their diocese into a liberal mainstream Protestant church (never mind that numbers for liberal mainstream Protestant churches are even worse than those for the Catholic Church).

And off we go:
+ Leaders of religious order priests want to remain faithful to their particular charism; they are not just interested in sending more priests. They want to share in shaping a vision for the future and the future church.
I'm not sure the word "share" is entirely accurate.
+ Small communities need the Catholic Church, a Catholic presence. Because of our social teachings, we can not live around poverty, illiteracy, homelessness and not respond. We have to be true to our religious charism, which always keeps us on the edge, on the fringe.
You really want to be on the fringe? How about celebrating the mass, even Novus Ordo, strictly according to the rubrics, with chant instead of "On Eagles' Wings?" Now that would be cutting edge.
+ We need trained community organizers.
"Trained," no doubt, by the Maryknoll nuns; and you think these people would be aware "community organizer" has lost a bit of caché these past two years.

+ Some priests need to be educated that people have a right to speak about what they want as a church.
And if they won't be "educated," ve haf vays ov deelink vit tem.
+ The liturgy needs to be vibrant; we need to continue work with bilingual liturgy and talk to people about the meaning of Eucharist.
Because nothing says "Come unto me" like like "Gather Us In" croaked out in English or Spanish.

(Now skipping a bit)
+ Weekly Mass can be celebrated on another day than Sunday.
Great idea! Just a few tiny snags you'll need to deal with: the Third Commandment, Mark 2:27-28, and the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (you've heard of it, haven't you?).
+ Could we not have a dialogue about extraordinary celebrants of the Eucharist? When help was needed in the past, extraordinary ministers of Communion were started.
Gosh, would I be considered skeptical for having the notion there is an ulterior motive here?

And finally (although there are more, go see for yourself):
+ We need to develop a process where people can name their fears.
Res ipsa loquitur.

To be sure, this colloquy consisted of "over 30 sisters and one brother representing 28 religious communities in the Diocese of Jackson" (regular readers should of this blog should have no trouble guessing which ones) and accompanying photos suggest the numerous innovations proposed were yet outnumbered by the wrinkles. Still, the bishop (near retirement age himself), seems to have given a warm welcome to these 'sixties relics and their goofball ecclesiology, if not exactly his imprimatur. That is never a good idea, it only encourages them.

(Thanks to Banished Child of Eve)

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Gaia

During the height (or depths) of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky debacle, the President's Democrat and media defenders took no end of delight in comparing critics of the his boorish behavior with the Puritans. I always found that amusing because given the number of babies the typical Puritan mommy pushed out, they and their mates must have screwed like bunnies (even adulterously if, as scholars believe, Hawthorne's famous account was based on actual incident).

Lest you think, however, those days of insufferable self-righteous overseers of our souls are ages past, that Puritanism, described by Mencken as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy," no longer obtains, think again. Ann Althouse (via Instapundit) points to a list enumerating, albeit tongue-in-cheek, proper behavior all good environmentalists best engage in if they, like the Reverend Dimsdale, want to avoid charges of hypocrisy. Some suggestions include
Your weight should be at the low end of normal, indicating that you are not overconsuming the products of agriculture.

You should not engage in vigorous physical exercise, as this will increase your caloric requirements. You may do simple weight-lifting or calisthenics to keep in shape. Check how many calories per hour are burned and choose a form of exercise that burns as few calories as possible.

Restrict your use of transportation. Do not assume that walking or biking is less productive of carbon emissions than using a highly efficient small car. Do not go anywhere you don't have to go. When there is no food in the house to make dinner, instead of hopping in the car to go to the grocery store or a restaurant, take it as a cue to fast.
And so forth. Of course, we all know not one environmentalist in a thousand would ever consider such a harsh and ascetic regime; give the Puritans' their due, they at least attempted to practice what they preached. But as far as a bullying insistence that the rest of us, anyway, should forswear pleasurable activity and creature comforts to atone for our sinful existence, the modern environmentalist and Puritan of yore are two peas in a pod. Mencken could easily have been describing 21st century environmentalists (and the left-liberals in general) when he wrote the following.
The Puritan's utter lack of aesthetic sense, his distrust of all romantic emotion, his unmatchable intolerance of opposition, his unbreakable belief in his own bleak and narrow views, his savage cruelty of attack, his lust for relentless and barbarous persecution-- these things have put an almost unbearable burden up on the exchange of ideas in the United States.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Comes the Moment to Decide

Now that it is all-but-official the Church of England will have women bishops and thus has shucked any possible claim to catholicity, Forward in Faith, an organization of those dwindling beleaguered souls who call themselves Anglo-Catholics (as I did for most my life) holding the fort in the C of E and the Anglican Communion, has at last put its foot down--sort of:
The draft Measure to permit the ordination women as bishops, approved today by the General Synod and sent for discussion and approval by Diocesan Synods, contains nothing which can satisfy the legitimate needs of members of Forward in Faith.

Now, though, is not the time for precipitate action. There will be ample opportunity for priests to take counsel together at the Sacred Synods called by the Catholic Bishops in each province in September, and for Forward in Faith to take stock at the National Assembly in October.
While some might argue that statement is about as namby-pamby as they come (better to yak about it even more rather than actually make a decision), there is a certain logic to Forward in Faith's stance. The reason they dare not take any "precipitate action" is somebody already did, the Pope, last year, in his Anglicanorum Coetibus, which provides for "personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church." The path has been laid and Forward in Faith must decide whether or not to go down it, a frightening decision indeed for they must also decide, once and for all, if they are Protestant or Catholic; via media is no more and never was (how ironic, in this year of Cardinal Newman's canonization).

Forward in Faith and all Anglo-Catholics have but two choices: go forward and accept the Pope's generous offer to be received en mass into the Catholic Church and retain most elements of the glorious Anglican worship tradition; or stay behind, for whatever reasons (but anti-Romish snobbery must certainly play a part), bound in hideous Dante-esque fashion to their increasingly feeble and irrelevant, albeit implacable, liberal protestant tormentors and disappear with them into the abyss.

ADDENDUM (thanks to Bill Tighe): this good and righteous soul now knows it is finished. So sad.