Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mark O'Connor, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, & Mark Schatz Perform "Spain"

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"The West’s Guide to Aristotle"


Lamenting that "[i]t is rare in the United States, ... to encounter philosophy before college, and rare outside Catholic universities for philosophy to be required in college," Robert Pasnau reminds us of the centrality of Averroës, "one of the last great Islamic philosophers, and the one who made the strongest argument on behalf of philosophy," whose "arguments would eventually take root, but not where he expected them to" — The Islamic Scholar Who Gave Us Modern Philosophy. We read,
    Supposedly in response to the caliph’s complaint about the obscurity of Aristotle’s writings, Averroës devoted much of his scholarly efforts to a series of commentaries on Aristotle, producing both brief epitomes and exhaustive, line-by-line studies. These commentaries would eventually take on a life of their own, but the most striking feature of Averroës’s career is how little influence he had on the Islamic world of his time, despite his obvious brilliance. Many of his works no longer survive in Arabic at all, but only in Latin or Hebrew translation.

    [....]

    Ironically, however, Averroës’s efforts were not in vain. Just a few years after his death in Marrakesh, the great universities of Europe began operation, most notably in Paris and Oxford. Unlike the strictly religious character of their nearest Islamic counterparts, these European universities were, from the start, thoroughly secular in their undergraduate curricula. The usual course of studies ran through subjects such as logic, metaphysics, ethics, and natural science—in short, they were exposed to all the various parts of philosophy. Students might go on to the advanced study of medicine, law, or theology, but each of those disciplines were taken to have their foundation in philosophy. By the middle of the thirteenth century, that philosophical curriculum had become thoroughly Aristotelian, and the great guide to Aristotle was none other than Averroës, who became known in the Latin West as simply “the Commentator.” His various paraphrases and commentaries on the Aristotelian corpus were studied wherever Aristotle was studied, and this remained the case all the way into the modern era. Even though, by the end of the Middle Ages, there were countless Christian commentaries on the Aristotelian corpus, it was still the writings of Averroës that were most likely to be found alongside early printed editions of Aristotle’s work.

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Lee Kwon Newt?

This is bad enough — Newt Gingrich praises Singapore's "successful," "draconian" drug laws, endorses death penalty for drug dealers. Worse is that the slimy amphibian commits the sin of calumny: "You can either be in the Ron Paul tradition and say there's nothing wrong with heroin and cocaine or you can be in the tradition that says, 'These kind of addictive drugs are terrible, they deprive you of full citizenship and they lead you to a dependency which is antithetical to being an American.'"

The post's author corrects: "Ron Paul didn't endorse heroin use like this would-be-dictator would have people believe[;] he called for the end of drug prohibition the same as ending alcohol prohibition in the 30's." More simply, President Paul would end the unconstitutional "War on Drugs" and leave drug policy to the several states, where it belongs.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jan Åke Hillerud's Veni, Veni Emanuel, Sung by the Paderborner Domchor, Directed by Thomas Berning

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New Mass, Same as the Old?

  • "People have said that they really appreciate the greater fidelity that the new prayers embody, and they like the more formal or 'higher' tone that it carries across," said Father Daniel Merz, associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Divine Worship, noting especially the "sense of reverence and poetry" — Patience with new translation expected to pay dividends.

  • "I think the new translation is very much like the old one, from way back when I was first at church, pre-Vatican II, except it's not in Latin," said parishioner Mary Griffith— Despite a few 'rough spots,' Catholics adapt to new missal translation. Said John Fleming, 90, "I got out all my old missals from when Latin was on one side and English on the other and it seems more like what I used to say a long time ago."
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    Brother Bear, Rightful King

    "The eminent medieval historian Michel Pastoureau's recent book, The Bear: History of a Fallen King (Harvard University Press)" reviewed by Justin E.H. Smith — Our Animals, Ourselves. An excerpt:
      Pastoureau's choice of research focus was widely dismissed as childish when he took it up in the 1970s: It is children who pay attention to Mr. Fox and Mr. Bear, the French historical establishment declaimed. Adults should turn their attention to adult matters—which is to say human matters. The bear accordingly grew plush, diminutive, and migrated to the crib in the form of the teddy bear. This destination serves as the end point of Pastoureau's study, and while this chapter of the bear's social history is not nearly as interesting as its medieval incarnation (or its Paleolithic one), it does serve to illustrate how far the king of European beasts has fallen.

      Falling, humiliation, abasement: This is the story Pastoureau wants to tell, of a creature that was, in pre-Christian Europe, an exalted double of the human warrior; that in the high Middle Ages was displaced by the lion as the king of beasts; and that by the modern period was best known as a broken, muzzled circus curiosity. By the 14th century, the bear would be "forced to obey not saints or heroes but a mere jongleur or a vulgar animal showman with a monkey on his shoulders or hares popping out of his clothing." Yet throughout its fall into dishonor, Pastoureau believes, the bear remained one of us: Even when it is abased, we see not some poor creature; we see what could easily be our own fate as well.

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    Age of Faith vs. Industrial Age


    Elena Maria Vidal links to a post by one Fr. Blake of commentary about and images from "AW Pugin['s] manifesto "Contrasts" [in which] he compared his modern and industrial age with that of the 'age of faith' and found the former decidedly lacking" — Medieval vs. Victorian.

    We are presented with a "vision was one where man was conscious of his intimate connection with the sacred. At its heart was man as as worshipping God or as we might say today 'as a liturgical person'. For [Pugin] that was a radical alternative to his society. It was also a Christian alternative to the visions of Bentham or Marx and Engels or any of the other constructors of new worlds of the 19th century. It raised man up from meanness conveying an idea of "Glory" rather mere utilitarianism..."

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    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Franz-Joseph Haydn's "Trumpet Concerto in Eb" Performed by Alison Balsom and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Directed by David Robertson




    It's hard not to love trumpets and brass this time of year.

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    Decline and Fall of the American Empire

  • "Have US policymakers gone crazy?" asks Justin Raimondo, noting, "The pace of US intervention across the globe is picking up speed, even as the world-wide economic crisis threatens to bring down the Empire – and the response to this accelerated imperialism drives a growing global backlash" — The Price of Empire.

  • "A faded president, discredited rivals, and a dysfunctional political system spell trouble for the United States - at home and in the world," Godfrey Hodgson, noting the "serious and growing disparity between the assumptions of media and politicians in the United States and the realities of the world which its political elites still aspire to dominate" — From the trumpeter, an uncertain sound.
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    U.S. Marine Killed Defending American Freedom

    Here at home, where it is truly threatened, not in Iraq or Afghanistan, where it is not, never was, nor ever possibly could be — SWAT team's shooting of Marine causes outrage. No one in America, not even someone "suspected of being involved in a drug-trafficking organization," should wake up to "an armored vehicle pull[ing] into the family's driveway [with] men wearing heavy body armor and helmets climb[ing] out, weapons ready."

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    Catholicism and Islam

  • "I call upon the Church, in every situation, to persist in esteem for Muslims … If all of us who believe in God desire to promote reconciliation, justice and peace, we must work together to banish every form of discrimination, intolerance and religious fundamentalism" — Pope's comments on Islam deserve applause.

  • In another report about "Catholics and Muslims {meeting] along the Jordan River for frank and friendly talks about their differences and how to get beyond their misunderstandings," we learn among other things that Muslims "suggested the Catholics had given in too much to modern secularism and not protested enough against depictions of Jesus that Muslims considered blasphemous" — Catholic-Muslims spured out of Pope’s comments five years ago.
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    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    J.S. Bach's Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland Performed by the Arnold Schoenberg Chor & Concentus Musicus Wien Directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt












    Something to celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, for which the above was written, and first performed three days short of three years short of three centuries ago.

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    A Liturgical New Year's Gift for English-Speaking Catholics

    A local report calls the "long-awaited overhaul of the English-speaking version of the Roman Missal" "a more faithful translation of the official Latin text, much of which is based on Scripture" — Changes in Catholic Mass begin this weekend. "There's been an effort since the Mass came into English, back in the late '60s, to find a worthy translation from the Latin text," said a local priest Fr. Robert J. Kennedy. He continued:
      The original translation that took place was done in a matter of months, rather quickly. There were concerns on a variety of fronts about the accuracy of the translation and whether it caught the beauty and the theology of the Latin translation.

      Ever since then, they've been slowly taking their time to do a careful translation.
    Impatient Catholics should remember the line from the film The Cardinal (1963): "The Church thinks in centuries, not decades." Whether she was doing so at the time of that film is a open to question.

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    Hope for Africa

    A theologian calls the continent "a reservoir of life and vitality" — Pope Recalls Joyful and Hope-Filled Trip to Benin — and economists try to explain why "Africa's prospects have changed radically over the past decade or so" — Africa Unleashed.

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    Great Lakes English

    What American accent do you have?
    Your Result: The Inland North
     

    You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

    The Northeast
     
    Philadelphia
     
    The Midland
     
    The South
     
    Boston
     
    The West
     
    North Central
     
    What American accent do you have?
    Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

    As a linguist by trade (and a cunning one at that), I give my imprimatur to Xavier Kun's assessment device, which focuses on the all-important vowels — What Kind of American Accent Do You Have? I do, however, have some issues with the evaluation.

    Anyone who gets the question "Are you from Chicago?" (some Texans once asked me, "Are you from England?") speaks "Standard English straight out of the dictionary," or at least Standard American English, or so I learned fifteen years ago when I was studying this stuff. Perhaps Mr. Kun thinks "The Midland" is home to Standard American English, which is fine by me. Normally, those in power set the standard, but this is not true in America; otherwise, we'd all be speaking like Manhattanites or the denizens of Hollywood. And, yes, I call carbonated drinks "pop," or at least did so before living overseas for so many years where everybody says "soda."

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    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Dietrich Buxtehude's Muß der Tod Denn Auch Entbinden and Jubilate Domino, Performed by Andreas Scholl, et al.

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    Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Black Friday


    I did end up making a purchase today — Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Informing my decision to buy this book were the facts that Barnes & Noble, Inc. was selling the book at half-price, that Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.'s exhortation to read the book was quoted on the cover, and that I find myself a bit bored by The Rogue Republic: How Would-Be Patriots Waged the Shortest Revolution in American History, which deals with quirky but rather roguish characters, unlike the fascinating and unquestionably heroic Dietrich Bonhoeffer. One only has time to read so much.

    From the old blog, the author of the biography was quited as saying his subject "was extremely pro-Catholic and much of his own theology was specifically formed by Catholicism" — Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Catholicism. More:
      The theologian's 1923 trip to Rome “was extremely important,” the author noted. “He eagerly attended Mass every day … and he bought a missal and was deeply taken with what he saw and experienced.”

      “It was nothing less than life-changing for him. At St. Peter's that Palm Sunday he saw celebrants on the altar from every race and color and for the first time in his life he thought about the church universal, beyond the parochial borders of German Lutheranism.”

      “This caused him to ask the larger question: 'What is the church?'” Metaxas explained. “He would spend the rest of his life answering that question. It was the subject of both his doctoral dissertations and it was what ultimately caused him to stand up against the Nazis who were trying to define the church on their own terms.”

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    Dietrich Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri, Performed by Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Directed by René Jacobs

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    Matt Kearney Sings "Rochester"

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    O Genesse!


    Just a block away from the majestic building pictured in the post below, I also for the first time gazed upon the delightfully bleak home of the thriving Genesee Brewing Company, which has so kindly welcomed me back home from day one when I came back to interview, pictured above.

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    O Kodak!


    Today in the shadow of the soon-to-be-bankrupt corporate headquarters pictured above, my father told me this story — How Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975: "A Kodak engineer credited with inventing the digital camera has revealed how bewildered company executives couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to look at images on a TV screen when he first proposed the idea of a ‘filmless camera’ to them in 1975."

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    Fifty Years of Local Distributivism

    "Ad multos annos!" to this local group, which nevertheless looks to George Gurdjieff rather than G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc as its guiding light — Rochester Folk Art Guild celebrates milestone.

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    "The Union Thanksgiving Service"

    Our city is home to what "has been proclaimed by participants to be the longest-running annual interfaith Thanksgiving religious service in the country," which "trace[s] its roots to 1874, when congregants of the First Unitarian Church, Temple B’rith Kodesh and the First Universalist Church joined in prayer over the holiday" — For many faiths, common ground in giving thanks.

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    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Johannes Ockeghem's Deo Gratias Sung by The Hilliard Ensemble

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    Johanna Kurkela Performs J. Hetfield and L. Ulrich's "Nothing Else Matters"


    Siris posted the above, saying, "I like the Metallica original, too, but this, I think, is my favorite rendition of it; I tend to like most of Kurkela's work" — Music on My Mind. I am not now now nor have a ever been a fan of Metallica, perhaps to my discredit, and until now I did not know Johanna Kurkela from Eve, but I like this rendition.

    It reminds me strangely of my time in Korea. Whether this is due to some shared cultural affinities among speakers of Ural–Altaic languages or just because all foreigners interpret American culture in similar, somehwat sterilized ways, I do not know. Maybe it's just because Miss Kurkela is slender, pretty, and proper, like most Korean singers.

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    William Byrd's "O lord, Make Thy Servant Elizabeth" Sung by the Tallis Scholars, Directed by Peter Phillips


    Something from four centuries ago to accompany today's news — English Catholics to Pray for Queen.

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    Whither the Rights of Englishmen?

    "It would be a sad day if the home of the common law lost its standing as a common law authority," said Lord Chief Justice of Great Britain, Igor Judge, in "a speech in March to the Judicial Studies Board in which he argued that English courts were moving away from reliance upon English common law in making decisions, and instead were resting decisions upon the European Convention on Human Rights in Strasbourg, France" — Will Common Law Survive in England? What does this mean for Albion's seedlings on these shores? An exceprt from The New American's article:
      American liberties are in many cases derived from English common law, well understood by our Founding Fathers. The trial of Peter Zenger in 1735 was a formative moment in American jurisprudence. The rights of Zenger to publish, and the use of the jury to rule against the wishes of the judge, were both firmly based upon English common law traditions. John Adams, who famously defended British soldiers tried after the Boston Massacre, felt that this use of the rights of the accused under English common law was of the highest importance.

      Every state in the union bases its interpretation of law upon English common law except Louisiana, which relies upon the French civil law system. As well, the federal judicial system also relies upon English common law. The foundational principles of the U.S. government, enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, derived in many cases from the English common law, which included such seminal documents as the Magna Carta, the Petition of Rights, and the (English) Bill of Rights.

      As the nations of Europe accede more and more sovereignty to supra-national entities and lose their historic systems of rights, traditions, and jurisprudence, constitutionalists in this country are stressing the increasing importance of U.S. citizens working to preserve their heritage as the best anchor for American liberties.

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    A Sad Day for Early Music

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    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Arvo Pärt's Cecilia, Vergine Romama Rehearsed by Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Directed by Myung-Whun Chung






    Something else for the memorial of Saint Cecilia, patroness of music.

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    Musiques pour Sainte Cécile by H. Purcell, G.F. Handel, and F.J. Haydn, Performed by Les Musiciens du Louvre, Directed by Marc Minkowski






    Virgin and martyr, patroness of church music St. Cecilia is celebrated today.

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    American Coup d'État

    To mark the events of four dozen years ago today, a reposting of last year's thoughts, fresh after reading one of the greatest books I had ever read — Supplying the Motive Behind the Murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy:
      Until reading James W. Douglass' JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, I had never given the assassination of the thirty-fifth president much thought. He was, I thought, just as much of an empty suit as our current president and just as much a philanderer as the last member of his party to occupy the Oval Office. Why would anyone besides a lone nut have wanted him dead?


      Mr. Douglass, a theologian, proves beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Kennedy had a conversion experience after the Cuban Missile Crisis and became a heretic to what the author calls "Cold War theology." John F. Kennedy's co-conspirator was none other than Nikita Khrushchev, with whom he maintained a secret correspondance. Both leaders faced fierce opposition within their own governments; one was assassinated and the other ousted the following year.

      Mr. Douglass, whose last chapter has 937 footnotes, delves into the conspiracy behind the presidential murder in great detail. It becomes clear that it was an inside job. (Either that, or Lee Harvey Oswald was at the head of a vast conspiracy involving hundreds of people, many of whom would sacrifice their own lives, organized to makes us believe he was the "pasty" he claimed to be.)

      One of the most interesting features of the book is its structure: rather than a straight chronological narrative, the main events are revisited again and again, each time offering deeper insights. For example, while we learn early in the book about the above-mentioned secret correspondance, we do not learn of the bold proposal that would have effectively ended the Cold War (and put a lot of powerful people out of work) until the very last pages.

      "A remarkable story that changed the way I view the world," said Flags of Our Fathers author James Bradley of the book. For me, this remarkable story confirmed the way I view the world, but changed the way I view President Kennedy, and I am thankful for that.
    Also, from that reading, a few days before — Fidel Castro on Lee Harvey Oswald:
      "Can anyone who has said that he will disclose military secrets [as Oswald said to the Soviet Union] return to the United States without being sent to jail?" asked el Máximo Líder, quoted by James W. Douglass in Orbis Books' JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters. More:

        How strange that this former marine should go to the Soviet Union and try to become a Soviet citizen, and that the Soviets should not accept him, that he should say at the American Embassy that he intended to disclose to the Soviet Union the secrets of everything he learned while he was in the U.S. service and that in spite of this statement, his passage is paid by the U.S. Government... He goes back to Texas and finds a job. This is all so strange!
    And before that — John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Ngô Đình Diệm, and the Buddhist Crisis of 1963:
      James W. Douglass casts an entirely new light on the pivotal events of that year in Orbis Books' JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.

      The Buddhist Crisis began with with a bombing of a Buddhist protest against Diệm's régime in Huế, which the Buddhists blamed on the Catholic president, who in turn blamed it on the Viet Cong. The crisis spread and the country was quickly destabilized. Autopsies of victims show the wounds were consistent with plastic explosives, which were possessed only by the C.I.A., à la Graham Greene's prophetic novel, The Quiet American.

      These events occurred at a time when both Catholic presidents were making clear signals that it was time for the American presence to end. By the end of the year, both Catholic presidents had been assassinated within a few weeks of each other.
    Before I had even read the book, I posted this — Unspeakable:On that last theme, the post that first showed my interest in the story — Was President Kennedy Returning to His America Firster Roots?

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    "The Origins and Future of Occupy Wall Street"

    Arts & Letters Daily posts this article proudly explaining "[h]ow a Canadian in a bathtub, together with transgender radicals, and a 'mystical anarchist' organized a revolution on Wall Street" — Pre-Occupied.

    Front Porch Republic's Jeffrey Polet "suppose[s] this is what happens when childishness, boredom, social media, anxiety, and apocalypticism mix" — Transgendered Anarchists of Wall Street, Unite! "Or," he continues, "history repeating itself as farce. 'Forming loose connections quickly' hardly seems like a recipe for good social order."

    Say what you will about the tenets of the Tea Party movement, at least it's an ethos.

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    Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman vs. Technocracy


    "He not only erects the scaffolding from which we can break out of this technocratic rut, allowing us to dream that we can know and decide for ourselves as men and women," writes Simon Rowney, "but he also transforms a dry, abstract intellectual journey into a profoundly spiritual one; a journey from doubt to faith and from solitude to relation" — Protecting the faith from sceptic attack.

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    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Philip Glass Performs "Planet News"

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    Alan Lomax's Times and Ours

    The American Conservative's Marian Kester Coombs reviews a biography of the man who "not only devoted his entire life to popularizing and publicizing his beloved voces populi but became a spokesman for 'the common people, the forgotten and excluded, the ethnic, those who always come to life in troubled times'" — American Folk Hero. Some excerpts:
      Alan Lomax’s achievements are inseparable from the cultural crisis the country found itself in after the ’29 crash, as hard times ground on, the world rearmed, and threats both inward and outward forced Americans to ask themselves Who are we? What do we stand for? What can we draw upon now for strength?

      All over the planet, peoples were asking themselves the same questions, as a vast wave of nationalist, nativist, patriotic, populist, and yes, chauvinist mass emotion swept over them. “There’s no place like home!” cried Dorothy. “Tara. Home. I’ll go home,” whispered Scarlett. “This land was made for you and me,” sang Woody Guthrie....

      Volkisch sentiment is not usually characteristic of the left, which prides itself on being sometimes pacifist and always internationalist. The upwelling of American folkishness in the ’30s and ’40s was mostly a symptom of the period’s fierce nationalism....

      Where do we hear America singing now? Like it or not, in rap and other street music, in reality television, in the generic praise music of community megachurches, and, let us not forget, in the greatest strain of folk music ever seen on earth, pop. Pop’s domain reaches from the coolest corners of jazz to the darkest recesses of heavy metal and everywhere in between. It is the people making music. “Yesterday” is a ballad of today. Techno is a tribal dance music of today. All over the world, pop is based on American popular music—the music of our folk.

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    "The Faith of the Quiet Beatle"

    "Whatever chance he had to become an orthodox believer was snuffed out by the drab and airless Catholicism on offer in the decades leading up to Vatican II" (as opposed to the bright, airy Catholicism of the past 50 years), but "his oscillation between guilt and redemption had a Catholic look to it—though his insistence on the split between spirit and body could have landed him squarely with the Manicheans" — George’s God.

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    "The Sloganization of Scripture"

    "If you look at an alien faith only to examine its deficiencies, you can find plenty of reasons to despise it," writes Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol — The Qur’an and the crackpots.

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    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    A Right Jab and a Left Hook

    Local Democrat and Chronicle reporters Brian Tumulty and Matt Daneman get it — Tea Party, Occupy could be allies in an alternate universe. An excerpt:
      "The Occupy movement thinks big business has too much political influence, too much influence over the government. We agree," said Jim Ostrowski of Buffalo, a founder of the Tea Party Coalition of Western New York. "That's common ground right there.

      "I don't detect any love for the Federal Reserve in the Occupy people. Our group generally wants to bring the troops home and so do they.

      "What the two groups need to do is get together and talk about solutions," Ostrowski said.

      The Tea Party "has always opposed corporate welfare, crony capitalism and the Wall Street bailouts that only reward incompetence with hard-earned taxpayer money — and I am hearing some Wall Street protesters are echoing that sentiment," said Jul Thompson, chief organizer of another western New York Tea Party organization, TEA New York.
    It is we who live in the alternative universe, "Bizarro World" as Justin Raimondo calls it. In saner times, left and rigfht could put aside differences and form hugely popular organizations such as the American Anti-Imperialist League and America First Committee, whose dangerous commonsense platforms have had them all but excised from the history books.

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    Jules van Nuffel's Christus Vincit Sung by Regensburger Domspatzen

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    Sœur Marie Keyrouz Sings "Thou, O Mother of God"


    Sister Marie Keyrouz, "chanter of Oriental Church music... and founder-president of the National Institute of Sacred Music in Paris," "was born in Deir el Ahmar in Lebanon... [and r]aised in the Maronite Church, but being a Melkite through her religious congregation, ... took her vows in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church."

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    Bembeya Jazz National Perform Tama Tama, N'gnamakoro & Petit Sekou

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    Benedict in Benin


    "The transition to modernity must be guided by sure criteria based on recognized virtues ... firmly rooted in the dignity of the person, the importance of the family and respect for life" — In Benin, pope urges Africa to uphold values of family, human dignity. "Pope Benedict XVI urged the African continent to protect its ancient values in the face of spiritual and ethical erosion."

    The Pontiff also found on the Dark Continent a "freshness, a 'yes' to life (...) a youthfulness that's full of enthusiasm and hope... a sense of humor, a joy" — Pontiff in Benin: Don't Neglect the Past to Build Future. His Holiness lauded Africa's "metaphysical perception of reality, meaning reality in its totality with God," saying, "There's not [in Africa] a rigid positivism, that restricts our life and makes it a little arid, and also turns off hope. I would say there's a fresh humanism in the young soul of Africa, despite all the problems that exist. There's a reserve of life and vitality for the future that we can count upon."

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    Let Us Pray For Our Syrian Brothers in the Faith

    The LRC Blog's Daniel McAdams on what the fact that "the British government has formally opened talks with the Syrian rebels" really means — UK/US Prepare Christian Genocide in Syria.

    Mr. McAdams writes, "Western Christians who have been propagandized to believe that the armed rebels represent 'the people' must understand one critical thing: If these rebels are successful, thousands of Syrian Christians will be murdered by the radical Islamic regime that will take over. And that blood will be on the hands of Western governments that have openly sided with the rebels from the beginning of the uprising. And on the people cheering the bloodbath."

    Mr. McAdams forgets to mention that it was Syria who took in our brothers and sisters fleeing the penultimate Anglo-American midwifed anti-Christian genocide (the one before the one in Egypt), the one next door in Iraq.

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    Is America Going Crazy?

    The editors at Taki's Magazine dissect the news that "in 2010, one in five Americans took medication to relieve conditions broadly described as mental disorders" — The Great American Pill Party.

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    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Mulled Wine From America's Oldest Winery


    "Sweet, red wine with a saucy, sweet, tart, spicy taste. Just heat, then wait for the pungent and tantalizing aroma that will make any day a holiday," said Winery notes of today's pick, from the Empire State, of course — Brotherhood Holiday Spiced Wine. Today's other pick, Casa Larga Vineyards' Cab-Merlot, comes from even closer to home, the town next door, despite the winery's un-American name and motto: "Experience an Italian way of life." Returning downstate, it is interesting to note that Brotherhood Winery "remained in operation during Prohibition as it produced sacramental wine for the Catholic Church."

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    J.S. Bach's Ich Will Den Kreuzstab Gerne Tragen, Performed by Thomas Quasthoff, Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, Leonidas Kavakos

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    Friday, November 18, 2011

    "You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I were not a Catholic."


    Thus spake the great writer but flawed human being like the rest of us Evelyn Waugh, who continued, "Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being," quotes that come to mind reading R. J. Stove's excellent article pondering as a springboard to far deeper questions whether "Evelyn Waugh’s cruelty cost him his wife—and life" — A Grief Unobserved. An excerpt:
      Almost proverbial is Waugh’s gift for casual cruelty. This was, after all, a man who, when his old foe Cyril Connolly announced an intention of abandoning the literary life to become a waiter, explained his subsequent worried look to Connolly with the words “I was thinking of your fingernails in the soup.” Once Waugh visited Paul Claudel, who afterward observed simply that his guest “lacks the allure of the true gentleman,” a remarkably mild insult from the author matched, surely, in lethal French Catholic vituperation’s annals by Léon Daudet alone. But a Waugh diary entry of December 1940 perhaps outdoes even the fingernails-soup retort in its callousness.

      Waugh’s second wife, Laura, had just given birth to their third child, a daughter. While the childbirth went surprisingly easily, within 24 hours the daughter, named Mary, died. She had been given emergency baptism. Waugh’s diary entry reads: “I saw her when she was dead—a blue, slatey color. Poor little girl, she was not wanted.”
    I, however, see "that terrible, that diabolically insensitive, diary entry about little dead Mary" as being honest rather than cruel. Children are not always wanted (mine are, were, and always will be, in case they read this at some point), which of course does not in any way abrogate paternal obligations. Not all of us, after all, are shiny, happy Catholics. Reasonable is the commenter's "reading of his comment about his daughter Mary [being] that God didn’t want her on earth" and that "it would be hard to wax sentimental or eloquent on a being who lived only a few days." The "[p]oor little girl" lament is to my ears quite touching in its understatedness.

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    "The Greatest German Woman of All Time"


    Elena Maria Vidal with a link to a post "on how the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman inspired Sophie Scholl, a Lutheran, to take a stand against the Nazis" — Blessed John Henry Newman and Sophie Scholl:
      Cardinal John Henry Newman was an inspiration of Germany's greatest heroine in defying Adolf Hitler, scholars have claimed.

      New documents unearthed by German academics have revealed that the writings of the 19th-century English theologian were a direct influence on Sophie Scholl, who was beheaded for circulating leaflets urging students at Munich University to rise up against Nazi terror.

      Scholl, a student who was 21 at the time of her death in February 1943, is a legend in Germany, with two films made about her life and more than 190 schools named after her. She was also voted "woman of the 20th century" by readers of Brigitte, a women's magazine, and a popular 2003 television series called Greatest Germans declared her to be the greatest German woman of all time.

      But behind her heroism was the "theology of conscience" expounded by Cardinal Newman, according to Professor Günther Biemer, the leading German interpreter of Newman, and Jakob Knab, an expert on the life of Sophie Scholl, who will later this year publish research in Newman Studien on the White Rose resistance movement, to which she belonged.

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    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Antonio Vivaldi's La Notte ("The Nightmare") Performed by Red Priest

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    Kritarchy

    Davi Barker looks to a land that "happens to be the quintessential image of extreme poverty and feuding warlords for most people" but at the same time "has improved by virtually every measure of standard of living without a state, or when compared to its neighbors that still have a state" — The Law According To The Somalis. "As Africa explodes into populist movements demanding Western-style democracy,
    the author suggests "that a superior indigenous alternative is nestled right in their backyard."

    Kritarchy, a term the article taught me and which is used to describe modern-day Somalia, "refers to the rule of judges (Hebrew: שופטים‎, shoftim) in ancient Israel during the period of time described in the Book of Judges." Frank Chodorov's classic piece on the transition from the rule of judges to kings comes to mind — What Samuel Said about Solomon. Here is the prophet's answer to the people's request to "make us a king, to judge us, as all nations have," as quoted in First Book Of Kings (1 Samuel):
      This will be the right of the king, that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and put them in his chariots, and will make them his horsemen, and his running footmen to run before his chariots, [12] And he will appoint of them to be his tribunes, and centurions, and to plough his fields, and to reap his corn, and to make him arms and chariots. [13] Your daughters also he will take to make him ointments, and to be his cooks, and bakers. [14] And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your best oliveyards, and give them to his servants. [15] Moreover he will take the tenth of your corn, and of the revenues of your vineyards, to give his eunuchs and servants.

      [16] Your servants also and handmaids, and your goodliest young men, and your asses he will take away, and put them to his work. [17] Your flocks also he will tithe, and you shall be his servants. [18] And you shall cry out in that day from the face of the king, whom you have chosen to yourselves. and the Lord will not hear you in that day, because you desired unto yourselves a king.

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    The Tyranny of Moral Busybodies

      Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
    Thus spake C. S. Lewis, quoted by Laurence M. Vance in his article linked to here — Cain Panders to "Libertarian" Republican Voters.

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    Jim Jones and Jonestown

    Daniel J. Flynn reviews a book that offers on the one hand a "rebuff of the temptation to label a Bible stomper a Bible thumper" but on the other "rehabilitation of the disgraced church centers on the secular faith, rather than any supernatural one, of its congregants" — The Original Kool-Aid Drinkers.

    While the book's author "marvels at the paradox of noble ideas unleashing ignoble deeds," the reviewer remind us that "in the aftermath of the Lenin/Stalin/Hitler/Mao-century, socialism manifesting as horror show isn’t ironic. It’s clichéd."

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    "Uh-oh. They think I'm gay."

    The pseudonymous Robert Traver on a job interview at a university in the Midwest — A Case of Mistaken Diversity. "If they think I'm gay, then gay I'll be" was the job applicant's first reaction.

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    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    George Frideric Handel's Dixit Dominus Performed by Ensemble Vocal Lausanne, Directed by Michel Corboz

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    Lessons From Spanish West Florida, 1803

      Spain was about to learn the danger of encouraging American settlers. They might be loyal only as it suited them, and efforts to halt more settlement could arouse the ire of those already there. Once opened, West Florida would be hard to close.
    From The Rogue Republic: How Would-Be Patriots Waged the Shortest Revolution in American History. Similar lessons were drawn from the story of Anglo settlement in what was to become the Republic of Texas in Patrick J. Buchanan's State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America.

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    "The Strange and Worrying Epidemic of Biologism"

    Atheist Raymond Tallis, F.Med.Sci., F.R.C.P., F.R.S.A., bravely challenges the idea that "that nothing fundamental separates humanity from animality" — Rethinking Thinking.

    He sees two "two cardinal manifestations" of this pseudo-scientific craze, namely "the claim that the mind is the brain" and "that Darwinism explains not only how the organism Homo sapiens came into being (as, of course, it does) but also what motivates people and shapes their day-to-day behavior," but concludes with "an indicator that the mighty edifice of philosophically naïve conventional neuroculture is starting to fall apart."

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    The Terror of God

    "Long before the New Atheists, believers – from Job to Heinrich Heine – were picking fights with the Almighty," says Jonathan Rée of a book of that title by an Iranian-German orientalist "calling for big doses of humility and self-doubt amongst Muslims as well as their critics" and "criticising the idea that the modern West is the immaculate child of a so-called Renaissance and Enlightenment – as if it had a direct connection with ancient Greece and Rome, unsullied by the turbulent languages and cultures of the Middle East" — Dissing God. An excerpt:
      It is an exercise in comparative literary history, drawing out a neglected strand in the literature of monotheism, East and West: the figure who, without abandoning religious belief, hurls insults and challenges at a God who seems to be characterised by nothing but malice, incompetence and wild impulsiveness. Jewish and Christian sources are not neglected, but Kermani spends more than 100 pages discussing the 13th-century Persian poet Faridoddin Attar of Nishapur, who specialised in elaborate stories-within-stories combining Muslim piety with ferocious anger against God. Kermani will not convince every reader that Attar is a shining star of world literature, but he makes a good case for seeing him as a master-craftsman in a long tradition of dissing God, or what he calls “counter-theology”.

      Attar was of course drawing on patterns he would have known, directly or indirectly, from the Hebrew Bible: not only the furious character of Job, but also Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Jeremiah and the poet of the Psalms – all of whom were inclined to haggle with their maker like a shyster in the souk. Christianity, on the other hand, has its origins in a blaze of optimism, and Christians have always been reluctant to hold their God responsible for evil; but they too had begun to take up the counter-theological tradition by the 14th century, when – according to Kermani at least – the achievements of Attar and other Islamic poets started to seep into Europe through Spain and Italy, leaving their mark on European literature as a whole, most notably in the darker passages of Petrarch, Chaucer, Dante and Shakespeare.

      For the past 200 years, mainstream Western thinkers have liked to think of themselves as bold explorers, venturing deep into a god-forsaken wasteland whose existence was not even suspected before the dawn of European modernity. But if Kermani is right, their themes are far from new. When Stendhal said that “God’s only excuse is that he does not exist,” he was only continuing a tradition of angry piety handed down from the Hebrew Bible and medieval Islamic poetry. And the same applies to Heinrich Heine, who returned to religion during his terrible final illness in order to indulge in the pleasures of blasphemy. The vehement atheisms of many other heroes of modernism – of Nietzsche, Mahler and Kafka, or Adorno, Bloch, Beckett, Camus and Sartre – also have their roots, if Kermani is right, in the ancient soil of counter-theology. Kermani will not win the consent of all his readers – he is too wayward and unusual a thinker to seek it – but it is impossible not to admire his range, his energy and his boundless intellectual generosity and inventiveness.

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    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Henryk Mikołaj Górecki's Symfonia Pieśni Żałosnych ("Symphony of Sorrowful Songs"), Isabel Bayrakdaraian, Sinfonietta Cracovia, John Axelrod

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    Peter Hitchens Reviews Some Good War Revisionism

    The New Beginning links to the man Mark in Spokane rightly calls "Christopher's younger and wiser brother" looking at a "book [that] comes tantalisingly close to being right" — All Hell Let Loose – Max Hastings on the ‘Good War’. Noting that "Sir Max’s treatment of the Anglo-French ‘guarantee’ to Poland is properly contemptuous," Mr. Hitchens quotes,
      France promised the military leadership in Warsaw that its army would attack Hitler’s Siegfried Line within thirteen days of mobilisation. Britain pledged an immediate bomber offensive against Germany. Both powers’ assurances reflected cynicism, for neither had the smallest intention of fulfilling them: the guarantees were designed to deter Hitler, rather than to provide credible military assistance to Poland. They were gestures without substance, yet the Poles chose to believe them.
    The reviewer says, "I might add that the Germans, more sensibly, treated them as the worthless rubbish they were. A pity it wasn’t the other way round, really."

    Later, Mr. Hitchens takes issue with "the ‘We Won the War’ cult" over an even more obviously clear but somehow contentious point:
      Sir Max also addresses the question of the bombing of German civilians, fairly realistically. But he makes two classic mistakes, commonly made by defenders of this action. He accuses those, like me, who think the bombing was morally wrong, of arguing that it was *as bad as* and in some way equivalent to the mass-murder of Jews by the Hitler state.

      But most rational critics of the Arthur Harris bombing campaign do not think this at all. They think that the bombing was morally wrong on its own account.

      It was not remotely comparable to the mass-murder of Jews (and others), a unique crime whose culprits probably caused the excavation of a new pit in the deepest parts of Hell to hold them.

      But it was still utterly wrong.

      As for the supposed military argument for it, that it diverted artillery and men from the Eastern Front, this wasn’t its intention.

      And it must be stressed that a campaign of bombing properly directed at military targets would also have caused this diversion. I doubt very much whether the appalling losses inflicted on his men by Harris would have been much greater if he had followed this course. But, as we know, Harris hated to be distracted from his attacks on civilians and was most reluctant to allow his bombers to be used for anything else.

      Such properly targeted bombing might also have done far greater damage to the Reich’s war effort than incinerating, suffocating, roasting and dismembering lots of innocent women and children, who cannot conceivably be blamed for Hitler.
    Mr. Hitchens concludes that "the overwhelming message from this book is that the comforting fantasy of the ‘Good War’, with which British people have sustained themselves for so long, is insupportable." Tolle, lege.

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    Peacenik Pat Strikes Again

    The American Conservative's founder Patrick J. Buchanan asks, "Is a vote for the Republican Party in 2012 a vote for war?" — Return of the War Party? "Is a vote for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich a vote for yet another unfunded war of choice, this time with a nation, Iran, three times as large and populous as Iraq?"

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    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Iris Dement Performs "My Life"

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    The Atheist Dilemma

    "I acknowledged the truth that life was meaningless, and yet I kept acting as if my own life had meaning, as if all the hope and love and joy I’d experienced was something real, something more than a mirage produced by the chemicals in my brain," said Jennifer Fulwiler, quoted by Kyle R. Cupp — What Gives Life Meaning?

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    Origin of the Human Species

    Dennis Bonnette, author of a book of that title, noting that "authentic Catholics and many traditional Protestants understand that theological monogenism -- which holds that all mankind is descended from a single pair of ancestors -- must be maintained in order to confirm the reality of Original Sin, and the consequent need for the Redeemer," attempts to "offer a detailed explanation of how the current theory of human evolution might be fully consistent with sound scriptural interpretation" — Must Human Evolution Contradict Genesis? An excerpt:
      Respecting the "special creation of man," nothing prevents God from directly creating Adam from the "slime of the earth" in the most literal biblical manner, an event totally escaping modern scientific observation. Still, Cyril Vollert suggests in his Symposium on Evolution (1959) that evolution theory might integrate with Scripture if God directly infused the human spiritual soul into a fully adult subhuman primate. Such transformation would instantly change the entire material organization of that primate into true man. Vollert also proposes that this radical change might have taken place at the embryonic level. In that case, subhuman primates would not be the real parents of Adam, since his direct creation as a human being, though using evolved embryonic material principles, would be the work of God, who alone can create the spiritual human soul as well as raise matter to the level of this qualitatively higher new species. Even subhuman primates might readily rear such "offspring" as their own. This new species could then separate from the prior subhuman stock in the manner described above.

      The "formation of the first woman from the man" poses a greater challenge, if we are to take an evolutionary perspective and attempt a real material connection to Adam. Again, God could have taken Eve from an adult Adam's rib in a most literal fashion. Still, since the Hebrew word sela can also mean "side," a more creative, evolutionary scenario might be proposed -- one based on Vollert's hypothesis of embryonic transformation. Monozygotic twinning might have occurred immediately following Adam's formation. Save in the rarest of instances, such twinning produces siblings of the same sex. God might have foreordained that an almost unique "XXY" zygote form monozygotic boy/girl twins by one of the twins dropping the extra "X" chromosome and the other twin dropping the extra "Y" chromosome. Or else, by unseen direct divine intervention, a "Y" chromosome is changed into an "X" chromosome in the twin that becomes Eve. In the miracle of the Virgin Birth in which Mary begets her Divine Son, it appears that an "X" chromosome must have been transformed into a "Y" chromosome -- in order that a male Savior be born. The process of begetting Eve might have entailed a "reverse" foreshadowing of the miracle that was to bring mankind its Redeemer.

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    Nowhere Men

    Andrew Bacevich says that "the most disturbing aspect of contemporary American politics, worse even than rampant dysfunction borne of petty partisanship or corruption expressed in the buying and selling of influence," is that "[c]onfronted with evidence of a radically changing environment, those holding (or aspiring to) positions of influence simply turn a blind eye, refusing even to begin to adjust to a new reality" — Big Change Whether We Like It or Not.

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    Quadragesimo Anno

    "While defending free markets, Pius XI also criticized an excessive individualism that ignores the social and moral dimension of economic activity," writes Father John Flynn, LC — Free Enterprise and the Catholic Church.

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    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    The Country Gentlemen Perform "Teach Your Children"

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    "Visually astounding. A working model for post-apocalyptic capitalism."


    So says a reviewer of my absolute favorite childhood haunt, to which I took my wife and kids today — Super Flea & Farmers Mkt. I can't beat the reviewer's description:
      Small spaces in a gigantic former warehouse are rented to vendors selling a remarkably useless variety of stuff, most of it well past the point of being utter junk. Vendors mark off their bleak grey spaces using chain-link fencing, old doors, novelty blankets and emergency blue plastic tarp, hoarding broken happy meal toys, hubcaps, chipped glassware, live rabbits in overcrowded cages, dust covered dream catchers, juice drink-stained used NES games, thoroughly wanked-over Playboys and photographs of celebrities long forgotten. A must see if you're into simulated trauma.
    I admit it was hard not to steal away from the wife and kids and sneak a peak at the "thoroughly wanked-over Playboys," as a fan of all things vintage, of course. One thing new was the many "glass 'tobacco' stalls" mentioned by another reviewer; I don't remember them, and, yes, I would have been looking after age 13. We drove more than an hour each way to come back with two 25¢ bouncy balls, two packs of Pokémon cards, and two airbrushed wood cutouts of my kids' names.

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    The Pledge


    My kids have learned the Pledge of Allegiance. This does not leave me all that happy, but neither does it leave me horrified. My wife was bemused, since her country gave up on such nationalistic drills decades ago. My mother was surprised; having lived for twelve years in California with another set of grandkids there, she thought the Pledge had been abolished. Learning that Californians had gotten rid of the Pledge makes me a bit less opposed to it, an opposition which began in high school after reading the Manifesto of the Communist Party. Now, I am wise to the common socialist origins of the Pledge and the Manifesto.

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    Finding a Parish Home, Redux

    The Church of Saint Jerome in East Rochester, NY may be it. I wrote about my initial struggles almost three months ago — Finding a Parish Home. "Why don't you just go to your territorial parish?" scolded commenter M.Z. "And why are you bragging about your inability to put up with the people around you? I thought the whole point of moving to a small town was to be with people and be endeared by their ideosyncracies."

    M.Z. probably would have been more sympathetic had I mentioned the parish was about as WASPy as a Catholic parish can get. Indeed, her Novus Ordo Missae was identical to what you might expect at any Mainline Protestant Sunday service, only probably a tad worse.

    In contrast St. Jerome's, in a working-class neighborhood a full half-mile closer to the home I'll be moving into with my extended family, is ethnic. Poles, Italians, and Irish may not count anymore as ethnic by the official census-takers, but the small Nuyorican presence surely would. What matters is that the Sacrifice of the Mass was devoid of pretension. No piano. No Broadway-style show tunes for the Eucharistic Prayers.

    They used the organ. There was some chanting. Even two words of Latin, "Mysterium fidei," found their way in, spoken by the elderly Italian priest, who was the spitting image of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Speaking of whom, even Dorothy Day was mentioned in the deacon's homily! The hymns of Marty Haugen, however, were painfully present.

    I never did make it to St. Josaphat's Ukrainian Catholic Church for the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or St. Stanislaus Kostka Church for the Traditional Latin Mass, but this humble, shrinking, graying parish dedicated to St. Jerome looks like she'll make a good home for us.

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    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Heinrich Schütz's Psaumes de David, Performed by La Chapelle Rhénane, Directed by Benoît Haller

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    Yesterday's Other Armistice

    "Area residents, community leaders and Native Americans in traditional dress paraded through Canandaigua against a chilly wind Friday to celebrate.... "[t]he treaty between the federal government and the Native American nations that make up the Six Nations Confederacy (Haudenosaunee) [which] guaranteed sovereignty and brought peace between the two" — Canandaigua Treaty marks 217 years with celebration. Some pictures:



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    Friday, November 11, 2011

    "Martinmas Time" Sung by James Yorkston


    Above, Scottish folk singer James Yorkston sings the traditional tune Martinmas Time.

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    Martinmas and Armistice Day


    In honor of both Saint Martin of Tours and Armistice Day, Simone Martini's 1321 fresco, "Saint Martin Renouncing the Sword," pictured above, seems à propos for yet another year.

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    The Church and Science

      The argument that the Church has a role to play in the continuing evolution of scientific endeavor is no doubt confusing to many people, believers and nonbelievers alike. In modern times it has become fashionable to think of the Catholic Church as somehow antithetical to science. The idea is virtually universal among nonbelievers, among whom I, alas, count myself. I suspect the idea has become more common among Catholics as well. There is no reason it should be: The scientific project, even the scientific method itself, is an invention of the Catholic Church.
    So begins Scott Locklin, former physicist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory— No Catholic Church, No Scientific Method.

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    This Is Not Hate Speech?

    "Lets [sic] bring back the Roman lions for these misguided folks," said one commenter on a news story about a nearby town clerk who instead of "just quit[ting] because of her biblical belief... sought another option that would allow her to retain her part-time position and meet the demands of the job without having to compromise her conscience," reported on here — “Gay Marriage" v. Religious Freedom in N.Y. State.

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    Box, Stick, Blanket

    "The blanket's ability to instantly turn into a wedding gown, a magic carpet, a fort, or a superhero cape via youthful imagination made it a shoo-in" — Hot Wheels, dollhouse, blanket inducted into National Toy Hall of Fame. "Similarly, the cardboard box and the stick, inducted in 2005 and 2008 respectively, are in a special category of 'toys of the imagination.'"

    My son, who is reminding me a bit of Manny Pacquiao these days, has been using the blanket as a boxing ring for me and him to duke it out. The cardboard box was always one of my favorites, especially used with stairs. And the stick? What better toy could there be than the stick?

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    A Fair Question For the "We Are Not Alone" Crowd

    "If those bulbous-eyed green men are so smart, why do they have to stick probes up abductees’ butts to see what we’re made of?" asks Arts & Letters Daily in linking to this book review — What might they want?

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    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Dietrich Buxtehude's Herr, Wenn Ich Nur Dich Hab Performed by Victoria Evtodieva & Musica Antiqua Russica, Directed by Vladimir Shulyakovskiy


    Some exquisite High-Church Lutheranism for you. Psalm 72 provides the text:
      Herr, wenn ich nur dich hab, so frag ich nichts nach Himmel und Erden, wenn mirgleich Leib und Seel‘ verschmacht. So bist du doch Gott allezeit meines Herzens Trost und mein Heil. Alleluja.

      For what have I in heaven? and besides thee what do I desire upon earth? For thee my flesh and my heart hath fainted away: thou art the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion for ever.

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    Things I Leaned About Martin Luther Today

    On today's "birthday of a man whom Pope Leo X called 'the wild boar in the vineyard,'" Garrison Keillor had much to say on today's edition of The Writer's Almanac. Growing up in High-Church Lutheranism, I never learned, for example, that he "got caught in a terrible thunderstorm" and "made a bargain with St. Anne that if he was saved he would become a monk."

    Also, as a Catholic, it is noteworthy to read that "[t]he final straw for Luther came when members of his own parish started traveling to a neighboring territory to spend their hard-earned money on indulgences, and then told Luther that they had no need of confession since they had purchased forgiveness." His opposition to Indulgences is well known, but that is was sparked by a defense of Sacrament of Penance was new to me.

    Mr. Keillor also has some choice quotes, which should not surprise anyone who knows Lutherans, like this one: "Who loves not woman, wine, and song remains a fool his whole life long." And here's a lengthier bit from a letter to a depressed friend that takes the idea a bit too far but is nonetheless a good read and beats joyless Puritanism any day of the week and twice on Sundays:
      Be strong and cheerful and cast out these monstrous thoughts. Whenever the devil harasses you thus, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, aye, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: 'Do not drink,' answer him: 'I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.' One must always do what Satan forbids. What other cause do you think that I have for drinking so much strong drink, talking so freely and making merry so often, except that I wish to mock and harass the devil who is wont to mock and harass me. Would that I could contrive some great sin to spite the devil, that he might understand that I would not even then acknowledge it and that I was conscious of no sin whatever. We, whom the devil thus seeks to annoy, should remove the whole decalogue from our hearts and minds.
    On a related note, my parents will be travelling to Buffalo this weekend to meet our former pastor, at noon on Sunday at the Anchor Bar.

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    Drink Locally, Act Anti-Globally

    Alexander Nazaryan says that "just as the cocktail captured the delusions of the Jazz Age, so does the rise of the microbrew capture this curious moment in American history," asking, "in the wake of the financial crisis (so long, four-figure bottles of Cristal) in the aftermath of two towers and two wars (goodbye, cosmopolitan), in the damp penumbra of China’s ascent, what kind of patriot can think of drinking a Bud Light, brewed by the intra-national conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev?" — Something Brewing.

    "Whereas Prohibition left the United States with just a handful of brewers, many of which were swallowed by postwar corporatization," Mr. Nazaryan happily reports, "there are now some 1,700 breweries across the land."

    I support two of them, and they support me. Well known to readers is this blogger's love of Genessee Beer, the choice of locals trying to live within their means. But when I get the taste for something a bit craftier, but which will still not put me in debt, I'll go a bit further afield to Utica, NY for a Saranac. Between Genessee Cream Ale and Saranac Pale Ale, I don't see the need ever to leave Upstate New York again, and that's not even mentioning some of the pricier in-state beers. I have not bought a foreign beer since returning home and pledge never to do so.

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    Muslim Students at Catholic University of America Protest...

    ... in "opposition to the recent lawsuit against the University proposed by George Washington University professor John F. Banzhaf, who claims that the University is discriminating against Muslim students by not offering them a separate place to pray on campus" — Muslim Students Criticize Banzhaf’s Legal Action.

    "Neither me nor any Muslim student I know has ever filed a complaint against CUA for any reason," said one Saudi student. "I haven’t seen any actions taken by the university or any of its students that would justify doing so.... I chose to attend CUA because it is a religious school. I didn’t really care what religion it belonged to. As long as God is present in their everyday life, then it is fine with me."

    "I have found that my closest American friends are the more religious Catholics; those who pray before they eat, or who are shocked to see a person cheat," said an Omani student. "They are the ones that allow me to listen to them pray the Rosary or attend Renew with them. These friends not only shared their religious beliefs with me, but they also allowed me to do the same, which then created a sense of respect for one another’s religion."

    "I regret very much that our Muslim students have been used as pawns in a manufactured controversy," said the university president. "I want to reassure all of you that our Muslim students are welcome at our University. Our Catholic teaching instructs us to embrace our fellow human beings of all faith traditions. They enrich us with their presence and help to promote inter-religious and inter-cultural understanding."

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    How the Un-American Empire Treats Its War Dead

    A revelation rich in symbolism that rightly has bereaved family members "appalled and disgusted" — Remains of war dead dumped in landfill. "My only peace of mind in losing my husband was that he was taken to Dover and that he was handled with dignity, love, respect and honor. That was completely shattered for me when I was told that he was thrown in the trash."

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    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Jordi Savall, Driss El Maloumi, Yair Dalal, et al. Perform Yo Me Enamore de un Ayre, Danse de L`ame, and Al Ol

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    Silvio Berlusconi Should Have Resigned Weeks Ago

    When he confessed to having "had felt 'very bad' about joining the Nato campaign to help the Libyan people oust Gaddafi" [and] "said he had even considered resigning over the issue," as reported here — Help! What Gaddafi wrote to his friend Berlusconi. As John Derbyshire rightly pointed out at the time, "Berlusconi was the only one of our leaders to show even that residual amount of honor in the matter" — The Rude Multitude.

    The Derb notes that "Gaddafi had been making nice with the civilized world: scrapping his WMD programs, paying compensation to the American and European victims of his earlier atrocities, and helping stem the flood of sub-Saharan African migrants across the Mediterranean into Europe." None of this exonerates the dictator, of course, and the West should not have intervened on his behalf, but to intervene against an ally when the tide turn against him is pretty dastardly. At least Mr. Berlusconi was able to admit this, even if he didn't act but only felt.

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    The Real Deal

    Thomas Woods posts video of "a genuine person speaking from the heart, not from focus group prompts" — Ron Paul Speaks to Values Voters. The War Party must be shaking in its jackboots at the sight of the so-called "religious right" cheering his pro-peace message.

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    Patroness of the Sciences and Healing Arts

    Holy Mother Church "is gathering 350 scientists, religious figures, politicians, educators and industry representatives" in an effort that will surprise only the ignorant — Vatican Hosting Stem Cell Conference.

    She is even invoking the best of the West's pagan heritage; "We wish to raise some important and sometimes provocative questions," said Father Tomasz Trafny, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture's science department, "such as whether the Hippocratic oath should be extended to all the life sciences, because today it is not only doctors but also laboratory scientists who have power to intervene in all phases of human life."

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    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Stile Antico, W. Byrd's Vigilate & Ecce Virgo Concipiet, J. Sheppard's "Lord's Prayer," & H. Prætorious's Tota Pulchra Es

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    It Can't Happen Here?

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    Washington Rules

      Cui bono? Who benefits from the perpetuation of the Washington rules [what I am calling the bipartisan foreign-policy consensus]? The answer to that question helps explain why the national security consensus persists.

      The answer, needless to say, is that Washington benefits. The Washington rules deliver profit, power, and privilege to a long list of beneficiaries: elected and appointed officials, corporate executives and corporate lobbyists, admirals and generals, functionaries staffing the national security apparatus, media personalities, and policy intellectuals from universities and research organizations. Each year the Pentagon expends hundreds of billions of dollars to raise and support U.S. military forces. This money lubricates American politics, filling campaign coffers and providing a source of largesse — jobs and contracts — for distribution to constituents. It provides lucrative “second careers” for retired U.S. military officers hired by weapons manufacturers or by consulting firms appropriately known as “Beltway Bandits.” It funds the activities of think tanks that relentlessly advocate for policies guaranteed to fend off challenges to established conventions. “Military-industrial complex” no longer suffices to describe the congeries of interests profiting from and committed to preserving the national security status quo.
    So writes the heroic Andrew Bacevich, quoted by Thomas Woods here — Finally, a Conservative Who Isn’t Naive on Foreign Policy.

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    Homesickness in America

    "Soldiers, conscripts, African American slaves sold away from their families, American Indians incarcerated in government boarding schools, wives of IBM ladder-climbers, the displaced victims of urban renewal, homesick pioneers and immigrants and country boys adrift in the city" are the subjects of a book reviewed by Bill Kauffman, who begins by saying, "Mobility is the great undiagnosed sickness afflicting America" — Don’t It Make You Wanna Go Home Now?

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    Flower of the Algonquins and Lily of the Mohawks, Pray for Us

    On the way to a conference in Lake George, which Thomas Jefferson called, "without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw," I stopped at the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. We invite you to join your intentions to ours for our daughter while offering these prayers:



    Novena Prayer to Blessed Kateri

    Kateri, favored child, Flower of the Algonquins and Lily of the Mohawks, We come to seek your intercession in our present need: (mention it here).

    We admire the virtures which adorned your soul: love of God and neighbor, humility, obedience, patience, purity and the spirit of sacrifice. Help us to imitate your example in our life. Through the goodness and mercy of God, Who has blessed you with so many graces which led you to the true faith and to a high degree of holiness, pray to God for us and help us.

    Obtain for us a very fervent devotion to the Holy Eucharist so that we may love Holy Mass as you did and receive Holy Communion as often as we can. Teach us also to be devoted to our crucified Savior as you were, that we may cheerfully bear our daily crosses for love of Him Who suffered so much for love of us. Most of all we beg you to pray that we may avoid sin, lead a holy life and save our souls. Amen.

    In thanksgiving to God for the graces bestowed upon Kateri: one Our Father, Hail Mary and three Glory Be's. Kateri, Flower of the Algonquins and Lily of the Mohawks, pray for us.

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    Prayer for the Canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha

    O God, who, among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St. Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech You, the favor we beg through her intercession, that this Young Lover of Jesus and of His Cross may soon be counted among the Saints of Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

    Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

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