Sunday, April 29, 2012

Antonio Vivaldi's Gloria in Excelsis Deo, Performed by I Solisti Veneti and Wiener Singakademie, Directed by Claudio Scimone and Heinz Ferlesch


The Church of Saint Jerome offered the above to her parishioners this morning, with piano in lieu of orchestra, but glorious nonetheless.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Heinrich Schütz' Der Herr Ist Mein Hirt, Performed by La Chapelle Rhénane, Directed by Benoît Haller


Something to accompany tomorrow's Gospel reading — I am the good shepherd.
    Der Herr ist mein Hirt,
    Mir wird nichts mangeln.
    Er weidet mich auf einer grünen Auen
    Und führet mich zum frischen Wasser,
    Er erquicket meine Seele.
    Er führet mich auf rechter Straßen
    um seines Namens willen.
    Und ob ich schon wandert'
    im finsteren Tal,
    Fürcht ich kein Unglück;
    Denn du bist bei mir,
    Dein Stekken und Stab trösten mich.
    Du bereitest vor mir einen Tisch
    Gegen meine Feinde,
    Du salbest mein Haupt mit Öl,
    Und schenkest mir voll ein.
    Gutes und Barmherzigkeit werden mir folgen mein Leben lang,
    Und werde bleiben im Hause des Herren immerdar.
    The Lord is my Shepherd,
    I will lack nothing.
    He pastures me in a green field
    And leads me to fresh water;
    He refreshes my soul.
    He leads me on the right paths
    for His Name's sake.
    And although I have wandered
    In the dark valley,
    I feared no misfortune;
    For You are with me,
    Your rod and staff comfort me.
    You prepare a table for me
    In front of my enemies;
    You annoint my head with oil,
    And bestow gifts to me abundantly.
    Goodness and mercy will follow me my whole life,
    And I will remain in the house of the Lord forever.

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American Precision?

"Precision-guided mythology masks a brutal truth," says Ximena Ortiz — A Game of Drones. Her first two paragraphs:
    America’s recent foreign policy has been enabled by a central idea: the United States does things differently. It wages wars differently. It suspends habeas corpus sparingly and with great restraint. It encroaches on liberties more gingerly. And it puts military men and women at risk with a respectful selectivity. To advance this mythology, the federal government has, time and again, insisted that it acts with painstaking precision when it resorts to military intervention or security-state measures at home. This, officials have consistently suggested, is the American distinction.

    Precision is what still seems to separate the United States from the Third World, as U.S. actions become increasingly similar to those often employed by underdeveloped countries. The myth justifies a surviving claim to global distinction, despite the errors, violations, and setbacks of the post-9/11 era. The U.S. may torture detainees like a Latin American dictatorship. It may subject its own people to surveillance of the sort once identified with the Eastern Bloc. And it may resort to violence as swiftly as any inner-city gang. But America’s government does these things with surgical exactitude, carefully distinguishing guilty from innocent. Confidence in this precision provides a buffer; it separates us from them. But the precision defense rests on an unstable pretense, as America’s escalating drone war shows.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Bad Brains, Live at CBGB, 1982


Hardcore punk, this blogger apologizes, has been sorely lacking from these pages. One of the sweet ironies of history is that the indisputably best act in a genre most associated with white suburban angst should have turned out to be four black Rastafarians from our nation's capital! The Honorable Robert Nesta Marley would surely approve of this "Punky Reggae Party."

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The Good Pope's Encyclical Fifty Years Later

Catholic News Service's Cindy Wooden on the encyclical that "tapped into people's yearning for peace at the height of the Cold War" and "made the social teaching of the Catholic Church accessible to millions of people" — 'Pacem in Terris' is model for preaching, teaching, archbishop says.

James W. Douglass' masterpiece, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, explains how Pope Blessed John XXIII's encyclical perhaps saved the human race, having sparked a secret correspondence between John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, which turned both men back from the brink, but in turn led to both being ousted by their countries' military establishments.

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Jeffersonianism Today?

The New Beginning links to Arthur J. Versluis's article reminding us that today's "Americans ha[ve] become accustomed to, even took for granted, virtually everything against which George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had warned: gigantic public and private debt, a massive national government, entangling foreign alliances, a standing army, undeclared war in the form of military interventionism, the destruction of American agrarianism;" and looks back to the time when "the American polis was weighted much more toward the local and regional than to the national government" — The Revolutionary Conservatism of Jefferson’s Small Republics.

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"Human Rights" as Christian Heresy

"The cult of human rights has... become an obvious successor religion to Christianity [that] selectively incorporates Christian notions of universality and the sacredness of the person, but without Christian theology," rightly writes Paul Gottfried, a Jew, on the "invention of loudmouthed journalists, political theorists looking for trips to the UN, and celebrities who are pushing pet causes" — Human Rights: The Useless Fiction.

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"Why Can't We All Get Along?"


Rodney King's prophetic words are referenced in the above contemporary photograph from this interesting article — How Koreatown Rose From The Ashes Of L.A. Riots.

I was in college at the time. When the verdict came down, the black students in my school marched through the corridors, pulling off fire alarms. I was one of about three or four white students who joined them in an impromptu march downtown. The funniest moment was when we passed some white feminist office of some sort who's partisans thought it would be a good idea to hand the mob some pro-abortion posters, which were promptly ripped up and thrown to the ground.

I remember a student government friend at the time, a black woman, who was disappointed by Mr. King's inability to articulate a clearer message of "racial justice" at the time. I thought the police brutality victim's tear-filled comments were poignant and absolutely perfect for the time. Indeed, "Why can't we all get along?"

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Servant of God Emil Kapaun

A report that "the chaplain's fellow inmates are the real promoters of his sainthood" — Prison mates promote cause of heroic Korean War priest. A brief haiography:
    In November of 1950, Fr. Kapaun met up with soldiers besieged by Korean troops at the Battle of Unsan. The Army chaplain chose to stay with the wounded and was imprisoned at a concentration camp near Pyoktong, North Korea, where he was tortured.

    For six months he ministered to other prisoners, often giving others his own food rations, and was subjected to forced labor. He celebrated baptisms, heard confessions, offered the Mass and administered last rites. The priest eventually developed a blood clot in his leg and fell ill with dysentery and pneumonia.

    According to the testimony of his prison mates, he died in prison on May 23, 1951 and was buried in a common grave near the Yalu River.

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Food-Like Substances and Other Posions


Pints in NYC "thin[ks] you [I] need to post this picture and perhaps get some discussion going on it" — How The Orchestrators of Choice Make You Believe In The Illusion of Food Branding.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arvo Pärt's Summa Performed by the Dublin Guitar Quartet

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Thomas Fleming, Anti-Statist

The New Beginning posts some noteworthy excerpts — Dr. Fleming on the Limits of the State.

"I do not think Natural Law requires a state to protect the unborn," he says. "I don't think under the Natural Law that a political authority is bound to protect born children who are the family's and not the government's responsibility," he later continues. Read his arguments.

"I'd give up the word state, with all its historical and ideological baggage," he proposes. "Was the Athenian polis a state?" the classicist asks. "I don't think so," he answers, "at least not in the sense that the UK or the USA today are states." Tolle, lege.

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We've Always Been at War with Brazil, Russia, India, and China

Pepe Escobar predicts that "this twenty-first century world of ours is shaping up right now largely as a confrontation between the U.S./NATO and the BRICS, warts and all on every side" — A History of the World, BRIC by BRIC.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Susana Baca and Javier Lazo Perform "De los Amores"

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George Zimmerman Is Black

Steve Sailer notes that "he looked quite mestizo in the notorious orange shirt photo" but that the "skinnier, shaven-headed, suited Zimmerman look[s] a bit like the President" — Why the most hated man in America looks a little like Obama.

He quotes an MSM report as saying that "[t]he 28-year-old insurance-fraud investigator comes from a deeply Catholic background" and "was raised in a racially integrated household and himself has black roots through an Afro-Peruvian great-grandfather - the father of the maternal grandmother who helped raise him." Alright, he'd be black under the one-drop rule, or more precisely an octoroon. "So," clarfies Mr. Sailer, "he's not just a mestizo, he's a 'pardo,' like Hugo Chavez calls himself."

The article also notes that he "was taught in his early years to do right by those less fortunate" and mentions his "maternal grandmother, Cristina, who had lived with the Zimmermans since 1978, worked as a babysitter for years during Zimmerman's childhood. For several years she cared for two African-American girls who ate their meals at the Zimmerman house and went back and forth to school each day with the Zimmerman children."

Also of interest is that "Zimmerman served as an altar boy at All Saints from age 7 to 17" and, according to a friend, not "the type where, you know, 'I'm being forced to do this,' and a dragging-his-feet Catholic." We also learn that he "grew up bilingual, and by age 10 he was often called to the Haydon Elementary School principal's office to act as a translator between administrators and immigrant parents." And finally, for what it's worth, "Zimmerman partnered with an African-American friend and opened up an Allstate insurance satellite office."

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A Reality Check For Social Conservatives

The American Conservative's Daniel McCarthy, a.k.a. the Tory Anarchist, has one — Why the Right Can’t Win the Gay Marriage Fight.

Mr. McCarthy reminds us that "the traditional world—the Christian civilization to which social conservatives look as their ideal—has already given way to something radically new, leaving traditionalists with a choice between modern alternatives of left and right, neither of which is wholly in accord with the old values." He notes that "social conservatives... have made enough concessions to the reality of political life in 21st-century America—to the principle of legal equality and the need for some nondiscrimination law—that they’re left making largely unsympathetic and unconvincing arguments for exceptions."

He counsels so-cons to "throw their full electoral weight behind the libertarian principle of tolerance even for intolerance as the only viable alternative to a futile authoritarianism or outright surrender to liberalism. From libertarians," he continues, "they might also take the lesson that just because something is enshrined in law does not mean it has thereby acquired a higher moral status."

Steven Greenhut's five-year-old "thought experiment about privatizing marriage" gives the libertarian argument — Get the State Out of Marriage.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Our Town" Performed by Iris DeMent, Emmylou Harris, Aly Bain, & Jerry Douglas

    And you know the sun's settin' fast,
    And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
    Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
    But hold on to your lover,
    'Cause your heart's bound to die.
    Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
    Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
    Goodnight.

    Up the street beside that red neon light,
    That's where I met my baby on one hot summer night.
    He was the tender and I ordered a beer,
    It's been forty years and I'm still sitting here.

    But you know the sun's settin' fast,
    And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
    Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
    But hold on to your lover,
    'Cause your heart's bound to die.
    Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
    Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
    Goodnight.

    It's here I had my babies and I had my first kiss.
    I've walked down Main Street in the cold morning mist.
    Over there is where I bought my first car.
    It turned over once but then it never went far.

    And I can see the sun's settin' fast,
    And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
    Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
    But hold on to your lover,
    'Cause your heart's bound to die.
    Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
    Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
    Goodnight.

    I buried my Mama and I buried my Pa.
    They sleep up the street beside that pretty brick wall.
    I bring them flowers about every day,
    but I just gotta cry when I think what they'd say.

    If they could see how the sun's settin' fast,
    And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
    Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
    But hold on to your lover,
    'Cause your heart's bound to die.
    Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
    Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
    Goodnight.

    Now I sit on the porch and watch the lightning-bugs fly.
    But I can't see too good, I got tears in my eyes.
    I'm leaving tomorrow but I don't wanna go.
    I love you, my town, you'll always live in my soul.

    But I can see the sun's settin' fast,
    And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
    Well, go on, I gotta kiss you goodbye,
    But I'll hold to my lover,
    'Cause my heart's 'bout to die.
    Go on now and say goodbye to my town, to my town.
    I can see the sun has gone down on my town, on my town,
    Goodnight.
    Goodnight.

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Fukushima, Mon Amour

"In the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear power disaster," begins CounterPunch Robert Alzarez, "the news media is just beginning to grasp that the dangers to Japan and the rest of the world posed by the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site are far from over— Why Fukushima is a Greater Disaster Than Chernobyl.

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The Sage of Kentucky

The American Conservative's Glenn Arbery reviews a new book of essays on the "farmer, poet, essayist, and novelist" and his "scathing denunciation of corporatism, global thinking, and what he calls the 'total economy' that subjugates everything local to the sway of market forces" — Wendell Berry: Modern Agrarian.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Arvo Pärt's Te Deum Performed by the Estonian Chamber Choir & Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Directed by Tõnu Kaljuste

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The De-Christianization of the Holy Land

Bob Simon of 60 Minutes deserves the title "Righteous Among the Jews" for his heroic reporting that "[t]he exodus from the Holy Land of Palestinian Christians could eventually leave holy cities like Jerusalem and Bethlehem without a local Christian population" — Christians of the Holy Land.

Mr Simon reports on "a document called Kairos, criticizing Islamic extremism and advocating non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation which they called a sin against God," which "was endorsed by the leaders of 13 Christian denominations including Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican," which can be read here — A Moment of Truth | وقفة حقّ.

Of course, Mr. Simon's question to the Israeli ambassador, about whether "the Israeli government ever thinks of the fact that if Christians aren't being treated well here, and America is an overwhelmingly Christian country, that this could have consequences," is really a moot point. The American fundagelical would never recognize a Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran or Anglican as a fellow Christian, especially not an Arab.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gillian Welch & David Rawlings With Old Crow Medicine Show Perform "The Weight"

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Secret Societies and Their Disregard for Soldiers


Local news that "fraternity members spent Friday restoring a roadside mural dedicated to a fallen soldier that they ruined by painting over her image with their organization’s Greek letters" — Fraternity restores defaced mural of fallen soldier. From the report:
    Livingston County Sheriff John York said he came upon two Kappa Sigma Epsilon members Friday morning as they began to restore the tribute to Army Sgt. Devin Snyder, who was killed in Afghanistan in June.

    Last summer, Snyder’s friends painted an American flag superimposed with her portrait on a large rock alongside Interstate 390, close to her hometown of Cohocton in Steuben County. The words “RIP Devin Snyder” were painted on the rock’s right side.Fraternity restores defaced mural of fallen soldier.

    Earlier this week, the tribute to the 20-year-old soldier had been painted over with the Greek letters for the Alfred State College fraternity.

    York, a Vietnam veteran, noticed the fraternity logo during his drive to work Thursday. On Friday morning, he visited the scene and found two men who identified themselves as fraternity members.

    “I was pretty angry,” he said. “You guys deface this rock with this kid’s face on there? She gave her life for her country.”

    York said his anger dissipated when the students, one of them nearly in tears, seemed truly remorseful.

    “For once, I’m talking to kids who are trying to do the right thing for the right reason, although they did the wrong thing for the wrong reason,” he said.
You don't have to be pro-war to share the Vietnam vets's anger. In fact, it probably helps not to be. "She gave her life for her country"? No, her life was taken from her by her country's so-called government.

That said, at least the frat boys were open to having sense talked to them. Not so much can be said for the mass-murdering members of the secret society that sent this poor girl halfway around the world to die in vain. Now that's truly disgusting.

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Not Trayvon Martin

A local man "remembered fondly as a young leader who worked to bring peace to Rochester’s black and Latino communities" and who "was one of three people shot April 9 on Dayton Street by a suspect who remains at large" — Lawrence Richardson honored at vigil. The suspect is not suspected to be white, so this story remains local.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

"Anna Lee" and "The Weight" Performed by Levon Helm



Two recent numbers to remember a man who "fused rock, blues, folk and gospel to create a sound that seemed as authentically American as a Mathew Brady photograph or a Mark Twain short story" — Levon Helm, key member of The Band, dies at 71. May he rest in peace.

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Postpunk Paleoconservatism

Gavin McInnes, born in the same year this blogger was, rightly explains why "being into punk rock was actually great training for becoming a rational, libertarian, paleoconservative adult" — Punk Rockers Make Good Conservatives.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis Perform "Going Up the Country"


    I'm going where the water tastes like wine,
    We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time
    I'm gonna leave this city got to get away
    All this fussing and fighting, man you know I sure can't stay...
    Just exactly where we're going I cannot say
    But we might even leave the USA
    Cause there's a brand new game that I want to play.
Classicist Thomas Fleming quotes the above classic lyric in his piece on the "[r]ecord numbers of American citizens and legal residents [who] are renouncing their citizenship or turning in their Green Card" — Leaving America.

(Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt. Well, I never renounced my citizenship or even once considered doing so, but I did live overseas for more than fifteen years. I just came back about nine months ago, and this ex-expat couldn't be happier. Sure, there was more freedom abroad and now I have to watch what I say, but I love this place. It's hilarious! I wouldn't live anywhere else.)

The best part of Dr. Fleming's essay is when he suggests "the melancholy of the conservatives is reminiscent of the hippies' melancholia in the late 1960s." He continues, "It is true that a lot of counter-culturalists were either Marxists or deracinated hedonists, but there was another strain closer to Chesterton or to the Southern Agrarians than to the dispiriting socialism of the schools and the parties. You see it a little in Jack Nicholson's character in Easy Rider, in his speech, 'This used to be a good country.' Yes, used to be."

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The Melamine and Vioxx Scandals

"American journalists seemed to focus more attention on a half-dozen fatalities in China than they did on the premature deaths of as many as 500,000 of their fellow American citizens," writes The American Conservative's Ron Unz in his "China’s Rise, America’s Fall" issue — Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison.

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"Con­ven­tion­al As­tron­o­my May Have a Prob­lem"

It turns out that the "mys­te­ri­ous, in­vis­i­ble sub­stance called dark mat­ter... [that] per­me­ates much of the uni­verse... is not here, a new study has con­clud­ed" — Where’s the dark matter? Not here, befuddled astronomers find.

"It might be somewhere else, but not in, or even any­where near, our so­lar sys­tem. And that’s a big prob­lem, be­cause it should be all over the gal­axy. To make mat­ter worse, dark mat­ter is still sadly very much needed to plug oth­er gaps in as­tro­nom­i­cal the­o­ries." The God of the Gaps argument, "a discredited and outmoded approach to apologetics," comes to mind.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings Perform "Tear My Stillhouse Down," "Acony Bell," "Caleb Meyer," "Paper Wings" & "Orphan Girl"


Courtesy of The New Beginning, a must-visit blog for those with catholic and organic tastes in music.

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What's Worse, Killing Innocent Civilians or Desecrating Dead Combatants?

"The primary function of International Humanitarian Law," writes Chase Madar, "is to legalize remarkable levels of 'good' military violence that regularly kill and injure non-combatants" — Legal Atrocities.

Cited as a non-crime was "an Apache helicopter opening fire from half a mile high on a crowd of Iraqis — a few armed men, but mostly unarmed civilians, including a couple of Reuters employees — as they unsuspectingly walked the streets of a Baghdad suburb one July day in 2007." And this one only stands out because it was caught on video. Civilians are killed all the time, and there are no apologies.

Yet, when some of our guys after the heat of battle show a lack of respect for the corpses of enemies who've just been trying to kill them (whether the war is right or wrong at this point is irrelevant), we hear apologies — Panetta Condemns Army Photos of Dead Insurgents in Afghanistan.

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Americans Against Empire

  • Justin Raimondo argues that "even the most cursory glance at our foreign policy since World War II, and particularly since the end of the cold war and the commencement of our eternal 'war on terrorism,' reveals the unmitigated racism at the heart of the way we divide the world up into friends and enemies" — Race and Empire.

  • "Continued U.S. economic sluggishness, induced by a massive national debt in excess of $15 trillion," writes Ivan Eland, "should be causing soul-searching in the American foreign policy community about which unnecessary alliance commitments can be shed to save money" — Save Money by Ending Costly Alliances.

  • "History shows that the use of forced nudity by a state that is descending into fascism is powerfully effective in controlling and subduing populations," writes Naomi Wolf, reminding us that "[f]orcing people to undress is the first step in breaking down their sense of individuality and dignity and reinforcing their powerlessness" — How the US Uses Sexual Humiliation as a Political Tool To Control the Masses.

  • "In the debates," says Ralph Nader of Ron Paul, "only he called out the American Empire's meddling in the business of countless nations around the world" — The 100 Most Influential People in the World.
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    Sandro Magister Goes to Asia

    To "a country in which Catholicism is growing at a dizzying pace... precisely among the most active and 'modern' strata of the population" (and where this blogger lived for fourteen years and converted to the Faith) — South Korea, the Asian Tiger of the Church.

    Of course, a Church with such a remarkable present has an equally remarkable nativity, one of self-evangelization, as hinted at by Piero Gheddo: "The Church was born in Korea from a few Korean philosophers and diplomats who emigrated, converted to Christianity in Beijing, and then, after returning home, propagated the faith and baptized. From 1779 to 1836, when the first French missionaries arrived, Christians spread and then the persecutions came, but the habit of collaborating with the Church has remained."

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    The Food Dollar


    "Speaking of food," comments Pints in NYC, "I saw the second pic [posted above] in this link and thought you should do a blog post about it," in linking to this article, which "explains the distribution of the food dollar among ten industry groups involved in the supply chain" — USDA recalculates distribution of food dollar.

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    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Carolina Chocolate Drops Perform "Georgia Buck" and "Hit Em Up Style"

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    A Story From Milledgeville


    Ironically appropriate that the hometown of the great Flannery O'Connor, proponent of Southern Gothic and the Grotesque, should be the setting for this non-fictional story — Georgia Kindergartner Handcuffed, Arrested for Temper Tantrum.

    (That the story is reported on by the John Birch Society's organ and rightly denounced as "a problem that extends far beyond Milledgeville" will be unbearably ironic to some — "Does not compute! Does not compute!")

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    James W. Douglass on the Murder of Mohandas K. Gandhi

    "In riveting detail, author James W. Douglass shows as he previously did with the story of JFK how police and security forces were complicit in the assassination and how in killing one man, they hoped to destroy his vision of peace, nonviolence, and reconciliation," reads the blurb to the book reviewed here — 'Gandhi and the Unspeakable' – New Insight About Gandhi's Assassination From Author of 'JFK and the Unspeakable'.

    (My brief review of the previous book, one of the best I've read — Supplying the Motive Behind the Murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. My spin on the events, which even Mr. Douglass in his tome failed to mention — Was President Kennedy Returning to His America Firster Roots?)

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    Neocon Matron Calls Civil Society Into Question

    The Weekly Standard's Gertrude Himmelfarb, 'also known as Bea Kristol," writes that "the fact that [civil society] was endorsed by people of discordant views and dispositions was itself cause for suspicion" — Civil Society Reconsidered.

    Then, suggesting that "because civil society itself has turned out to be a more complicated and ambiguous entity than might be supposed," the authoress suggests "it is sometimes complicit in the problems it purports to solve." Even worse, she writes, "Nor can the state, however egregious today, be entirely absolved of the need to help solve them."

    Rough translation: "The mailed fist of the State must be liberally employed to crush anyone daring to voice an opinion not endorsed by my hubby or sonny boy." Mrs. Kristol speaketh with a forked tongue! A more elegant (and deceptive) argument for Statism I have not read, quoting as she does many of the greats of classical liberalism and conservatism as the devil quoted scripture.

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    "#6. Catholic Nuns Still Dress Like ... Nuns"

    A conservative blog for peace links to another fun Cracked.com piece — 7 Ridiculously Outdated Assumptions Every Movie Makes. The Young Fogey opines, "Like the Catholic Church still looking and sounding like the Catholic Church. Because its production values were better; it was more photogenic. Now of course the Pope’s slowly bringing it back." From the link:
      Even if you've never stepped inside a church, you probably know all about the Catholic religion just from watching TV and going to the movies -- whether the plot revolves around faith, ancient conspiracy theories or just plain old exploding demons, the Catholics will always be there doing their instantly identifiable Catholic stuff.... Catholic churches themselves are just as easy to spot in movies: They will inevitably be dark, with stained glass, flickering votive candles and spooky Latin chanting coming from nowhere in particular.... If you have stepped inside a Catholic church, however, you've probably noticed that a lot of the newer ones have a tendency to look like empty DMV offices.
    This reminds me that the Henrietta, NY DMV has, believe it or not, pews for people to sit on while waiting to be called! I imagine they were salvaged from some church that had closed, because they were old. The lack of kneelers tells me they were protestant pews, as all pews ultimately are. Pews seemed an appropriate place for citizens to contemplate the almighty State.

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    A Little Truman


    "Given your feelings on the a-bomb, I think you'll really like the first 30 seconds of this youtube clip," says a long-time reader, in sending me the above. Daniel Nichols says it better than I could — When Consequentialism Comes Home to Roost. "Just as the United States acted morally in bombing Hiroshima and other attacks on civilians because the Americans had a good end in mind- ending the war, averting American losses that would have entailed from an invasion- so Mr Breivik, whose own goal of averting a Marxist/Muslim takeover of his country, claims he was justified in killing 77 people, most of whom were children of Labor Party members."

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    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Crooked Still, Live in Concert at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Oak Hill, NY, July 16th, 2011


    Making up for the "the lack of the hotness fiddle-playing of Brittany Haas" from Saturday's post.

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    Adam Smith and Edmund Burke


    The American Conservative's Bradley J. Birzer explains how the "close friends and even closer allies," one the "father of classical liberalism" and the other "holding the same position within modern conservatism," "saved civilization" — The Celtic Mind.

    "It is now possible to see Burke and Smith as fighting a rear-guard action at the end of their age, synthesizing and defending the best thought each had inherited—much as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle came at the end of classical Athens; Cicero at the end of the Roman Republic; St. Augustine at the end of the Roman Empire; or Thomas More at the end of what scholar Stephen Smith has called the English springtime."

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    The Kidnapping and Murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr.

    "A prominent banker and member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 'brain trust'" was behind it, argues The New American's James Perloff, putting it within a "context of sudden deaths for enemies of the FDR-Federal Reserve crowd" — The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Mystery.

    "No one had symbolized 'isolationism' more than Lindbergh," whose "father, U.S. Congressman Charles Lindbergh, Sr., was a chief opponent of our entering World War I and bitterly fought the Federal Reserve Act, which he prophesied would benefit a few bankers while plaguing average Americans with inflation and economic despair."

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    Not Ready For Prime-Time

    "[Y]ou will have to seek out alternative sources of news (such as this website) that are willing to discuss the truly earth shattering events that are continually taking place all over the globe" — 19 Things That the Talking Heads on Television Are Being Strangely Silent About.

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    Chestertonian Ratzinger

    "If the world turns its back on God, the pope-theologian and former prefect of the Holy Office tells us, it is not condemned to falsehood, to blasphemy, and not even to heresy, but to boredom," writes Andrea Monda — A Rare Pope: With a Sense of Humor.

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    Saturday, April 14, 2012

    Johnny Cash's "Ain't No Grave" Performed by Crooked Still


    A good tune, despite the heretical Assurance of Salvation and the lack of the hotness fiddle-playing of Brittany Haas, who's on hiatus from the band.

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    They Don't Make 'Em Like Ann-Margret Anymore


    At least not in the bombshell's homeland, which, The LRC Blog's David Kramer informs us, "recently added a gender-neutral pronoun, 'hen,' to the country's National Encyclopedia" — So, What Do You Think of 'Hen' and 'Hen'? Helping to enforce the new norm, "several preschools in Sweden have stopped making references to the gender of their students." This in a country that Mr. Kramer reminds us has a "ban on homeschooling."

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    “If God Didn’t Make It, Don’t Eat It”

    One of Margaret Durst's nine commandments — Practical Tips for a Healthier Life – Try Them!

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    Abolish the Department of Offense!

    "Since World War II," reminds Ivan Eland, "the founders’ version of military restraint has been pushed out in favor of an imperial president ignoring the constitutional war power of Congress and getting the country into many imperial dustups overseas," calling for an about-face — Putting Defense Back Into US Defense Policy.

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    Gerald Celente on Alex Jones Nightly News

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    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Rabindranath Tagore's Chorono Dhorite and Anondo Dhara Performed by Justin Gray and Ravi Naimpally

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    A Sesquicentennial


    "The past sometimes shames us," says Aditya Chakrabortty, arguing that "the life of Rabindranath Tagore, the great Bengali artist and thinker born 150 years ago, .... cast[s] a shard of light on a gaping, and usually unremarked upon, hole in today's culture" — Why are English and American novels today so gutless?

    "Even the most casual acquaintance with Tagore's work cannot escape his politics. His novels attacked the oppression of women; his essays warned about environmental degradation; he argued with Gandhi about what an independent India should look like; and he delivered lectures in America on the evils of nationalism ('at $700 per scold', as one newspaper sniped)."

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    The State Department Is Israeli Occupied Territory

    CIA veteran Philip Giraldi quotes a "State Department message [that] clearly reveals that when it comes to foreign policy the American people are no longer masters of their own destiny and at best can only negotiate issues with the Israelis while at the same time issuing a carte blanche in support of anything Tel Aviv chooses to do" — The Babylonian Captivity of Washington. "Instead of presidential wannabes declaring their subservience to Tel Aviv, they should perhaps begin emphasizing that they will only act in the future in the interests of the American people."

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    The Arrest of George Zimmerman


    Lew Rockwell, I fear, is right, to suggest that "whatever happened that night, the obviously intelligent Zimmerman is probably doomed to be found guilty in a Soviet-style show trial, and murdered in a race-riven prison, to advance the racial divide-and-conquer strategy of the regime" — What George Zimmerman Looks Like.

    "Trayvon is the victim here," says Pat Buchanan, "but George Zimmerman is beginning to look like a victim—of lynch law and mob rule" — Obama’s Zimmerman Problem.

    Steve Sailer is insightful as usual, in naively "hoping that this special prosecutor lady in Florida would bring some reassurance that George Zimmerman isn't being railroaded due to racial hatred and hysteria" — Not reassuring ... — and, comparing this case to one that brought the same charge, in suggesting that "suspect[ing] that a black youth with a what appears to be a track record of being a burglar might be a burglar is pretty much the same as sticking your girlfriend's head on a pole in the living room" — 2nd degree murder requires "depraved mind". He also quotes "about the most sensible thing anybody has had to say so far about this tragic mess-up" — Trayvon's mom calls it "an accident".

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    Dawkins vs. Pell

    Aussie Michael Cook saves us all the trouble of reviewing the post immediately below this one by rightly saying the "long anticipated debate between the Archpriest of Atheism and the Archbishop of Sydney was a damp squib" — A clash of the Titans? He rightly says the former "was beautifully coiffed and coutured but he was not in peak form," and that the latter, "a massive, imposing man, looked weary."

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    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    ABC's Q&A With Richard Dawkins and George Cardinal Pell


    Yesterday, from Down Under, above a "live debate discussing faith, science, history and morality on Easter Monday" that "attracted an audience of 863,000" — Pell vs Dawkins delivers ratings hit for ABC.

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    Conservatives and Liberals

    Steve Sailer explains that while "conservatives typically define their groups concentrically, moving from their families outward to their communities, classes, religions, nations, and so forth," "modern liberals’ defining trait is making a public spectacle of how their loyalties leapfrog over some unworthy folks relatively close to them in favor of other people they barely know" — The Self-Righteous Hive Mind.

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    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Esperanza Spalding Performs "Little Fly"

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    The New Eugenics

    Sasha Issenberg rightly scoffs at the assertion that "German psychologist Ernst Jaensch had isolated traits—'definite, unambiguous … tough, masculine, firm'—that would help to identify good candidates for National Socialism," but accepts the idea "that within ten years saliva swabs will identify a genetic link explaining why some individuals welcome immigration while others respond violently to it" and seems open to the suggestion that folk with "really strong immune systems are going to be all right with immigration" — Born This Way.

    I find this "finding" interesting, though: "Among women, conservatives were more into sex; among men, Jost and his colleagues found the opposite."

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    Monday, April 9, 2012

    "Let The Mystery Be" Performed by Iris DeMent, Russ Barenberg, Jay Ungar, Molly Mason, Donal Lunny


    After all the religiosity of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, it seems high time for some Agnosticism, or perhaps some New Mysterianism:
      Everybody's wonderin' what and where
      They all came from
      Everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go
      When the whole thing's done
      But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me
      I think I'll just let the mystery be

      Some say once gone you're gone forever
      And some say you're gonna come back
      Some say you rest in the arms of the Savior
      If in sinful ways you lack
      Some say that they're comin' back in a garden
      Bunch of carrots and little sweet peas
      I think I'll just let the mystery be
      Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory
      And I ain't saying it ain't a fact
      But I've heard that I'm on the road to Purgatory
      And I don't like the sound of that
      I believe in love and I live my life accordingly
      But I choose to let the mystery be

      Everybody is wondering what and where
      They all came from
      Everybody is worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go
      When the whole thing's done
      But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me
      I think I'll just let the mystery be

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    A Hard Left Atheist Critique of "New Atheist" Neocons

    Jeff Sparrow aptly dismantles the popular "arguments for war and state repression, tricked out as scepticism" — The Weaponization of Atheism. "The weaponisation of atheism, then, becomes a possibility only with the mainstreaming of non-belief," the author explains and, after duly noting that "the front ranks of New Atheism consists almost exclusively of ‘elite white males from the scientific community,’" continues:
      If religion is an intellectual doctrine and nothing more than that, the persistence with which so many cling to God faith becomes explicable only in terms of their congenital inability to reason. Or, to put it another way, if religion is purely and simply a fairy tale, then ipso facto those who cling to it are little better than children.

      The smugness that so often accompanies New Atheist interventions is not, then, accidental but is bred into the movement’s DNA.
    He goes on:
      The traditional Left approach to belief begins with a recognition that religion is not simply a set of ideas. Religion is a cultural identity; it’s also simultaneously an aesthetic, a system of feeling, a guide to social and sexual conduct, an organizational framework and many other things besides. These different functions contradict and complement each other in all sorts of ways.

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    Sunday, April 8, 2012

    J.S Bach's "Easter Oratorio" Performed by Collegium 1704, Directed by Václav Luks

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    A Western New York Easter Weekend


    The above image from the wise and liberal administration of Grover Cleveland seems appropriate as we spent Holy Saturday near the great president's hometown of Buffalo, New York in North Tonawanda for an egg-roll and other events at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. This was followed by a trip to my old stomping ground of Elmwood Village-Buffalo.

    The Church of Saint Jerome in East Rochester, NY was where we celebrated Easter, followed by a home game of the Rochester Red Wings, one of "only six franchises in the history of North American professional sports [that] have been playing in the same city and same league continuously and uninterrupted since the 19th century," versus the Buffalo Bisons. I even caught a foul ball, and almost two, for the kiddies.

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    Derb on Race

    John Derbyshire rightly counsels that "in everyday personal encounters is, that as a fellow citizen, with the same rights and obligations as yourself, any individual black is entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to a nonblack citizen," but prudentially that "while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense" — The Talk: Nonblack Version.

    (Steve Sailer informs us that the thought-criminal has lost his job — Rich Lowry fires John Derbyshire — and that the cancer victim could use our help — Donations for John Derbyshire.)

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    Mitt Romney's Secret Society

    "Temples are only open to those members who adhere completely to the strict standards of Mormonism, including unwavering loyalty to the president of the church," reminds Alexander Cockburn, quoting a former member as saying that "[t]he level of secretiveness surrounding the temples is extraordinary, so much so that members of the Mormon Church who have not been to the temple have virtually no idea as to what they entail" — Romney: Why It’s OK to Stick It to Him for Being a Mormon.

    This blogger lives midway between Palmyra, New York, the birthplace of Mormonism, and Batavia, New York, the birthplace of "the first 'third party' in the United States," the heroic Anti-Masonic Party.

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    Corporal Patrick R. Glennon, Rest in Peace

    A burial for a young man whose cousin "still remembers how sharp the 17-year-old soldier looked in his uniform on a Sunday dinner before he was deployed overseas" — Rochester Korean War veteran finally to be laid to rest. He "was declared missing in action while fighting in North Korea in November 1950" and "presumed dead three years later." For what?

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    Brave New World Watch

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    Dietrich Buxtehude's Alleluja Performed by the Ricercar Consort, Directed by Philippe Pierlot

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    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Arvo Pärt's Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Joannem, the Hilliard Ensemble & the Western Wind Choir, Paul Hillier

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    Easter and Freedom

    "We know from the events 2,000 years ago, which Christians commemorate and celebrate this week," writes Judge Andrew Napolitano, "that freedom is the essential means to discover and unite with the truth" — Hope for the Dead. The judge writes,
      On the first Holy Thursday, Jesus attended a traditional Jewish Passover Seder. Catholics believe that at that last supper, He performed two miracles so that we could stay united to Him. He transformed ordinary bread and wine into His own body, blood, soul and divinity, and He empowered His disciples and their successors to do the same.

      On the first Good Friday, the government executed Him for claiming to be the Son of God. He had the freedom to reject this horrific event, but He exercised His freedom so that we might know the truth. The truth He manifested is that His acceptance of the destruction of His body would demonstrate to us that we can liberate our souls from the slavery of sin and our free wills from the oppression of the government. Three days later, on Easter, that manifestation was complete when He triumphed over death by rising from the dead.

      Easter is the linchpin of human existence: With it, life is worth living, no matter its cost or pain. Without it, life is meaningless, no matter its fleeting joys or triumphs. Easter has a meaning that is both incomprehensible and simple. It is incomprehensible that a human being had the freedom to rise from the dead. It is simple because that human being was and is God. Easter means that there is hope for the dead. And if there's hope for the dead, there's hope for the living.

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    The Annual Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh

    It includes a call " to educate young people to respect and understand the religious beliefs and practices of others, to grow in knowledge of their own, to advance together as responsible human beings and to be ready to join hands with those of other religions to resolve conflicts and to promote friendship, justice, peace and authentic human development" — Vatican Invites Buddhists to Educate in Peace.

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    Ignatian Fasting

    "Gemma Simmonds CJ explains that the purpose of a restraint of the appetite was an important question even for St Ignatius, so much so that his Spiritual Exercises contain the little-known ‘Rules With Regard To Eating'" — Rules for Eating. To those who'd say "the Lenten fast is mostly pointless as a spiritual exercise, an unbalanced spiritual version of starve/binge bulimia," she writes,
      St. Ignatius Loyola had other ideas. In the Spiritual Exercises he slipped in a curious little page called the ‘Rules with Regard to Eating’. It comes at the end of the Third Week of the Exercises, which begins with the Last Supper and ends with Christ’s death and burial in the tomb. The Rules are overlooked easily by retreatants exhausted by the Wagnerian magnitude of the drama they have been involved in and going full steam ahead towards the resurrection. They are also avoided by some directors, uncomfortable with the medieval feel of it all and the potentially scruple-inducing details about fasting. But Ignatius did nothing by chance, and this page lies at the heart both of the Exercises and of the Passion itself, because it is all about how we deal with a disordered appetite at source.

      The purpose of this restraint of the appetite is twofold. It is to avoid excess, disorder and temptation, but also to provide an effective way of praying and living sacramentally, with the totality of ourselves, in an outward sign of the inward grace we are desiring, which is true freedom of heart. Ignatius was no stranger to fasting-induced illness and conceded later in life that this, too, is a form of compulsive disorder. Using the power of the imagination in a method familiar to today’s diet hypnosis gurus, he emphasizes the harmony and order that come with making balance and restraint the stuff of our daily living. The whole page is an exercise in agere contra, Ignatius’s idea that pulling gently in the opposite direction of an impulse run wild helps us to regain our balance. It connects with the very first paragraph of the Exercises, which talks of ‘preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all disordered attachments’ in order better to seek and find the will of God and with it the fullness of human flourishing.

      And so we return to the notion of Lenten penance and its connection with the celebration of the Passion. Throughout the Exercises, as throughout the Gospel narratives, runs the thread of making choices. We see the choices we make, both great and small, in the light of the choices made by Jesus: on entering into our world and living as the Word made flesh, during the temptations in the desert, in proclaiming the Kingdom and modelling a particular type of messiahship, in the garden of Gethsemane, in the manner of his dying. They are all choices of a foolish God whose folly is wiser than our wisdom and who displays power through letting it go. Our world is in thrall at the systemic level to unsustainable consumption. For good or ill we are all enmeshed in the economic systems that both create and are the product of the consumer juggernaut. They thrive on drivenness: the drivenness of those whose daily grinding toil makes it possible for the minority world to live beyond its need, and the drivenness of those who are straining to maintain an unsustainable lifestyle bloated by affluence.

      The consumer culture and the driven lifestyles adopted by many as the price of living within it produce a whole array of addictive and compulsive habits. If these happen at the level of the body, so must our counter-cultural spiritual habits. Eating is hugely problematic for women dominated by the body image insisted upon by the fashion culture and, for both genders, food is often deeply embedded within routine compensation mechanisms. People often talk of their relationship with food in terms of addiction. Though not an addiction in the proper sense, we can have eating habits that are dominated by compulsion and feel out of control. Food has the added challenge of being the one thing on which we cannot go cold turkey. We have to eat to live, even if we struggle to know and control the difference between what is enough and what is more than enough, and fasting, in its proper spiritual context, is not an end in itself. As retreatants emerge into the focus on resurrection and the power of the Spirit in the Fourth Week of the Exercises and life beyond, the idea is to incarnate as fully as possible an experience of prayer that has stripped them of deeply embedded illusions and compulsions and liberated them towards being able to choose, on a daily basis, the end for which God created them. This finds expression in transformative discipleship in whatever way of life best presents itself. It has implications for how we live down to the smallest detail.

      The Rules for Eating then are about both penance and temperance. Ignatius notes that the principal reason for doing penance is to make satisfaction for our sins, to overcome disordered appetites and to obtain some grace or gift earnestly desired. At the heart of penance lies a lucid knowledge of what drives our disordered lives. Such insight is a gift worth praying and fasting for. The dysfunctional appetite of many may not be for food but for power, money, status, image, success, addictive work patterns,fun, illusory needs in pursuit of illusory ambitions, all of which involve fleeing from the truth of ourselves. The compulsive compensation mechanisms that kill the pain of modern living may be television, sport, the internet, shopping, even the pursuit of the spiritual as if it were a lifestyle choice or accessory. We need to sit lightly to these as much as to any other drive that has us in its grip. The crucifixion of Christ stripped his followers bare of many illusions and gave them an insight into the extent of their own poverty. Ignatius's Exercises put us in touch, at the level of feeling and imagination, but also at the level of our senses and our living flesh, with the dynamic of our own operative mechanisms. It is this truth that we try to get in touch with during Lent, with a view to seeing ourselves more clearly through the power of the risen Christ. The resurrection appearances are a further process in shedding illusions, even the most cherished illusion of how God characteristically operates. The disciples of Christ crucified and risen become able to see themselves and their place in the general order of creation with the eyes of the loving creator. It becomes possible to live in the dynamic of resurrection, learning to be led in willing poverty of spirit, against the grain of the drive to control, security and self-gratification. This becomes part of the liberation of the earth itself from its subjection to the futility of our unsustainable ambitions and consumer desires.

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    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Tomás Luis de Victoria's "First Lamentation for Maundy Thursday" Sung by the Tallis Scholars, Directed by Peter Phillips

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    Neuroscience as Scientism

    An excellent article by George Walden, who, having "had witnessed at first hand the biggest live experiment in history, as more than a billion human beings, caged in their own countries like laboratory mice, were subjected to the parascientific creed of dialectical materialism and Marxism-Leninism," warns us against "the utopian claims of some branches of scientific inquiry today" — Beware the Fausts of Neuroscience.

    One of the "powerful critics... lining up to deflate the worst neuro-pretensions" the author quotes is Raymond Tallis, "himself a neuroscientist, Darwinian and atheist," who wisely states: "Even if we accepted (which I do not) that brain activity is a complete explanation of ground-floor phenomena such as sensations, neuroscience cannot capture what happens to the human world created by the joint activity of hundreds of millions of brains created over tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of years."

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    Sharia, USA?

    Philip Giraldi explains what Sick Rantorum's fear-mongering is all about — The Islamophobia Excuse. He identifies "two objectives," namely "to protect Israeli interests" and "to justify the seemingly unending series of wars in Asia."

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    Primal Fasting

    The Lenten practice good for our bodies as well as our souls, as these articles, the last of which is linked to by LewRockwell.com attest — How Fasting Aids Weight Loss, How Fasting Fights Cancer, How Fasting Increases Lifespan, and How Fasting Improves Brain Function.

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    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    Gillian Welch and David Rawlings Perform "By the Mark"


      When I cross over
      I will shout and sing
      I will know my Savior
      By the mark
      Where the nails have been

      By the mark
      Where the nails have been
      By the sign
      Upon His precious skin
      I will know my Savior
      When I come to Him
      By the mark
      Where the nails have been
      A man of riches
      May claim a crown of jewels
      But the King of Heaven
      Can be told from the prince of fools

      On Calvary Mountain
      Where they made Him suffer so
      All my sin was paid for
      A long, long time ago

      I will know my Savior
      When I come to Him
      By the mark
      Where the nails have been

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    J.S. Bach's Ich Will den Kreuzstab Gerne Tragen, Performed by Klaus Mertens & the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Directed by Ton Koopman

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