Friday, December 31, 2004

From blog member Lee Penn
Pope considers plan to speed canonization, abolish miracle requirement
Lee ‘had heard of this several weeks ago from The Washington Times, but did not want to spread a story from that Moonie paper. However, the story I am sending today is from a mainstream’ British RC paper, The Tablet.

Lee’s enumerated comments:

(1) The idea that miracles are not required for canonization comes from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). To me, this indicates that the CDF is lacking in ... faith.

(2) So Cardinal Bertone says that miracles are "anachronistic"!?! Again, this sounds like an unbeliever with a red hat ... the Cardinal is talking like ECUSA's atheistic Bishop Spong.

[Well, quisling RCs are mainline Protestant wannabes.]

On Spong: here is the text of his "Twelve Theses" from 1998, A Call for a New Reformation.

Two of Spong's "Twelve Theses" were these:

"5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity."

"10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way."
[Charley Wingate does a good job rubbishing Spong’s regurgitated 19th-century scepticism regarding the Ascension. Please. A place as sound as the Brompton Oratory preaches in sermons that ‘up’ is a metaphor understandable to Our Lord’s audience for His entering another dimension.]

(3) The Masters of the Temple have revolutionized almost everything else about the Roman Catholic Church since 1962 - so why not do another "revolutionary" thing and get rid of the miracle requirement?

(4) A part of the 1983 "reform" of the saint-making process was getting rid of the "devil's advocate," whose job was to be an in-house skeptic and to challenge claims of sanctity or miracles made on behalf of a candidate for sainthood. But then, maybe if the "devil's advocate" were still on the job, the founder of Opus Dei would not have been raised to the altars.

(5) Note very well that one of the candidates who might be canonized after the miracle requirement is dropped is Robert Schuman, a founder of the European Union. Robert Muller, a prominent supporter of the New Age movement and the United Religions Initiative, is a strong supporter of canonizing Schuman.

"Idea 75 ~ 23 September 1994
I hope that saintly Robert Schuman, my compatriot from Alsace-Lorraine who founded the European Union will be canonized before the end of this century. The world needs badly political saints. I am glad to be a member of his canonization commission."

"Idea 495 ~ 17 November 1995
Given the opposition and reluctance of some governments, especially the big ones to strengthen the United Nations, the novel, more innovative, far superior and stably well financed European Union should now become the foundation, cradle or model of a true, sorely needed World Union. I pray our Father in heaven and the saintly soul of Robert Schuman, the founder of the European Union, to fulfill this most important dream at the end of our century and millennium. The European Union should take an early decision to engage in this process."
But then, Muller wants to be canonized, himself.


"Idea 1340 ~ 12 March 1998
If I should ever be proclaimed a saint by the Catholic religion or by the United Religions Organization, I would like to be named or known as: Saint Robert of Mount Rasur."
(6) Hey, why wait till the candidate is dead before canonizing them? With another reform, we can canonize the head of the Legionaries and of other "new ecclesial movements" while they are still alive.
The last interview with Michael Davies
A suggested answer to why liberals get to be cardinals, at least in two cases:

He (Walter Kasper) and his fellow German, Lehmann, were made Cardinals. You see there is no chance of Cardinal Ratzinger being made Pope. The job of Kasper and Lehmann is to go to the conclave and stop anyone Ratzinger supports from being made Pope. It is interesting, Pope John Paul II wouldn’t appoint Kasper and Lehmann at first and a week later he did.

Well do you know where the pressure came from? The Polish hierarchy. Because they get so much money from the Germans. So Kasper and Lehmann said, ‘You scratch our backs and we’ll scratch yours.’
Money talks.


Kasper went on this ecumenical mission to Athens, attended the Greek Orthodox liturgy in the morning and in the afternoon he was having lunch. Then the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Athens (Christodoulos, head of the Church of Greece), who is a good friend of Count Capponi and Una Voce, asked his Eminence how he had enjoyed the liturgy in the morning. "Oh wonderful, wonderful," said the Cardinal, "I thought I was in heaven." Then the Archbishop said that he thought perhaps that they should make some changes to the Greek liturgy because, perhaps for modern people today, some of it is too mystifying. Kasper said, "No that would be a mortal sin. You mustn’t change a thing. Keep it exactly as it is." And the Archbishop said, "Then why did you destroy your liturgy which was the equivalent of ours?"
A comment left on a message board notes Mr Davies doesn’t say if the cardinal had an answer.

The archbishop caught the cardinal 1) being patronizing and 2) using a double standard and wouldn’t have it. Kala!

Ask some online Byzantine Catholics that question and you’ll be run off their message board and, if you are committed to their rite, have that commitment questioned. Very queer indeed.

The great one stumbled (even saints are fallible) regarding Mr Bush:

People like this revolting John Kerry who openly says abortion is OK, divorce is OK. If I was an American I would have to vote for Bush because he is a lot more Catholic than Kerry. I mean how the Vatican can take seriously a man like Edward Kennedy who has lead a scandalous life and I mean it was disgusting when Jacqueline Kennedy died and all those Kennedys who were divorced were there and they all went to Communion. There is no protest at all from any of the big Church authorities.
Mr Kerry’s views are revolting as are the Kennedys but, looking at the big picture, the war on Iraq means Mr Bush and his handlers should/must be thrown out. As for him being a lot more Catholic, I listened to the debates. Even in the hot-button issue (as it should be) of abortion he said there will be no litmus test for Supreme Court justices for example so under his party it’s business as usual for that. So in practice the matter factors out. The ‘values’ voters were played or maybe their ‘values’ are inconsistent.
From Fr James Tucker
Killer waves in the ancient Mediterranean
LRC picks
The quiet RSS revolution
I’ve caught up — see the new RSS feed among this blog’s links

On red-state fascism
The 1994 revolution failed of course, in part because the anti-government opposition was intimidated into silence by the Oklahoma City bombing of April 1995. The establishment somehow managed to pin the violent act of an ex-military man on the right-wing libertarianism of the American bourgeoisie.
On old-fashioned media dissing blogs and on the stupidity of Time’s Person of the Year article on Mr Bush
From David Virtue
Efforts to purge Christmas in US have backfired

Britons’ belief in God vanishing as religion is replaced by apathy

Internet news growing as other media decline

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Philadelphia reference
South Street
The hippest street in town is only a Fluf’n Stuf or an Orange Julius away from becoming the Cherry Hill Mall.
RIP Book Trader.
On the box

• It took me 15 years to see this
• I still want Winona Ryder even though she’s a thief (Natalie Portman’s got a similar appeal today)
New ‘Law & Order’ will go on without Orbach
Artie Shaw
From the UK
The world’s first talking search engine. Fun!
Where was God in this tsunami disaster?
I haven’t read Harold Kushner and wouldn’t want to go near this question with a barge-pole but Fr Michael, the University of Tasmania’s Eastern Orthodox chaplain, has a go at it:

God is in the myriad of individual acts of compassion between fellow survivors, tourists helping the bereft locals, locals helping the stranded tourists, citizens all over the world donating money ... in the prayers of a billion Christians beseeching God to comfort the bereft, to pour out His infinite mercy upon those who underwent sudden death without further opportunity for amendment of life, who had never heard the message of the Risen Christ, or who had been deceived into not receiving it. He is in the minds of those who even at this stage have responded to His inspiration to begin planning the recovery of the places and people affected. He is in the hearts of those who will be moved by this to renew their efforts to bring the saving message of Christ to the largely moslem, buddhist and hindu people who bore the brunt of the catastrophe.
He suggests:

Priest: That it may please Thee to bring into the Way of Truth all who have erred and are deceived.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to strengthen such as do stand; to comfort and help the weak hearted, to raise up them that fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to look upon and relieve the miseries of the poor and to help and comfort all who are in danger, necessity and tribulation
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to preserve all who travel, all women labouring of child, all sick persons and young children and to show Thy pity on all prisoners and captives.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to defend and provide for fatherless children, widows and all who are homeless, desolate and oppressed.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to have mercy upon all men.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to bestow on our enemies peace and love.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to maintain the good earth and all that it hath in it in pureness and health to the prosperity and good of all men.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.
Priest: That it may please Thee to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth, and to restore and continue to us the blessings of the seas, so as in due time we may enjoy them.
People: We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord.

Almighty God, the ruler of all nations and peoples, Who dost chasten us for our good and sparest us in Thy mercy; Have compassion upon all Thy creation, that being established in perfect peace by Thy power, we may use it to our healing and correction. Call to remembrance, O Lord, Thy tender mercies and Thy loving kindnesses which have been ever of old. Let not the chastisements which Thou dost permit, to overcome us in our weaknes and ignorance. We ask this through Jesus Christ Thy only-begotten Son, Who livest and reignest with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen.
Fr Michael is English and comes from a Prayer Book Sarum-style Catholic school of churchmanship.

And from onkos1:
The suggestion that the tsunami was the will of God has a very Calvinist "pre-destination" feel to it. Nature, like us, is fallen and has "free will" - the tsunami surely is a random "act" of nature. The role of God is in sustaining our faith and enabling us to bring/send aid to the many who are suffering, and to bring courage, love and acceptance to those who are bereaved. The family of my Sri Lankan wife has lost one member and one of her friends has lost two family members in the tragedy. We live in Australia, but peoples from the stricken part of the world are scattered throughout the Western World. Most of us will know someone who is affected directly or at least closely with this tragedy. Let us not blame God, Who is blameless, but call upon Him and let these mainly non-Christian nations see Christianity in its fullness, not as an ongoing enemy. Thus may good come out of tragedy.
I don’t like very much but...

Thou hast said it, Fr Gregory
The Catholic faith
The Perennial Rambler
What aggiornamento hath wrought
I don’t really know who this person is but I’m sure his story as given here resonates with a lot of people who’ve functionally become ‘theologically homeless’. (Rather like Alex Lawson in Merrily on High, whose remaining craftsmanship I’ve enjoyed at Mary Mags, now a centre for liberal ‘inclusive church’ nonsense.) A very good friend was a novice religious when the shit hit the fan and went through electroshock (just like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) for depression immediately afterwards.
Wild weather
Tornado near L.A.?
Whoa. What with the earthquake/tsunami in the Indian Ocean the weather seems apocalyptic like The Day After Tomorrow for real.
What I’m listening to
‘Bus Stop’, ‘Carrie-Anne’ and ‘Long Cool Woman’, the Hollies
Huzzah, KaZaA

...the 1960s were a golden age for the Hollies and to hear the Graham Gouldman-penned "Bus Stop", "Carrie-Anne" (part Kinks, part Beach Boys, part calypso) or the sweet-shop bubble gum of "Jennifer Eccles" is to be reacquainted with a sunny lost world of short skirts, mini coopers and policemen on bicycles.
- Kevin Maidment

Exactly, and then they changed completely less than 10 years later with ‘Long Cool Woman’, which rocks.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

From TCR
Israel accused of obstructing Palestinian election
Jerry Orbach

He said he didn't know "where I stop and Lennie starts, really. ... I know he's tougher than me and he carries a gun. And I'm not an alcoholic."

"I know I wouldn't want to be him," Orbach sums up. "I guess THAT'S where I stop and he starts."
Dona ei requiem.
From Fr Joseph Huneycutt
Tsunami blog
News and relief efforts

And got from Jan Bear:

A note to American retailers
You owe Christmas. When your "holiday shopping season" isn't stellar, then your bottom line sinks. The other winter holidays are not inherently gift-giving events, only gift seasons in reaction to Christmas.

The truth is, you need Christmas, but Christmas doesn't need you.
From the other young fogey
Changing one’s mind on banning fox-hunting the end of the day, any society worth living in has to give people space to do things that other people find repugnant.
A punto. But LRC’s James Ostrowski is at least partly wrong about mobile phones, particularly the American phenom of middle-class people yakking away on them whilst driving monster trucks (the successors of the station wagon). Your freedom ends, Brianna, where my safety begins.
The Catholic faith
Apostolic succession: differing RC and Eastern Orthodox views
Augustinian v. Cyprianic views of the apostolic ministry

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Susan Sontag
Whatever her problems, she was spot on regarding 9/11, the reaction to it and the war on Iraq
Catholic church in New Jersey adopts Indian village destroyed by tsunami
From The Rockall Times
The new-look British Army

10 things all immigrants should know about the UK

Parodying what David Holford is going through
From Katolik Shinja
Even the Soviets thought North Korean propaganda was a joke
From the other young fogey (a sporadic blogger)
The last refuge of scoundrels:

What makes you proud of Britain? Parts 1 and 2
I'm proud to live in a country where the doctrine of the white man's burden is alive and kicking.
I'm proud to live in a country where our foreign policy has been subcontracted to the most reactionary American President in history.
I'm proud to live in a country that only locks people up without trial indefinitely if they're foreign.
I'm proud to live in a country where only people of the highest moral fibre are appointed to key postions.
- The other YF
From Musings of a Pertinaceous Papist
Dumbing down the Pope
Thank you, Dr Blosser! Been thinking something like this for some time.
From Pontifications (Fr Alvin Kimel)
The babes were slain because of Your all-reviving birth
Today’s pro-life feast in the Roman Rite

One of course must also remember the tens of thousands (‘close to 60,000’) killed in Asia this week.

Monday, December 27, 2004

More on the farrago in the Ukraine
Mr Yushchenko’s church
Apparently he doesn’t belong to the Orthodox Church there, the Church of Russia, but rather a breakaway nationalist sect of former Orthodox led by the opportunistic former Russian Orthodox metropolitan of Kiev (and of all the Ukraine), Michael Denisenko (formerly Met. Filaret), who now claims he is the ‘patriarch of Kiev’.

Still he looks relatively good and the Russian Church not so much, as Fr Lance points out, after the poisoning scandal.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Et Verbum caro factum est... Puer natus est nobis.

Happy Christmas from this blog

- John, John, Samer, Dave and Lee

LRC pick
Christmas truce 1914

Christmas in Bethlehem this year

From David Virtue
Iraq: Christians face a season of ill will
Reminder: in Iraq under Mr Hussein (a ‘bad Muslim’, that is, not practising) Christians could practise their religion and one could buy alcohol without being harassed

In the nearby Syrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation, a beautiful liturgy in Aramaic, the language of Jesus, rose to the freshly plastered ceiling last Sunday.
David Virtue quotes from a Syriac liturgy:

Jesus Christ, radiant centre of glory, image of our God, the invisible Father, revealer of His eternal designs, prince of peace; Father of the world to come.

For our sake he took the likeness of a slave, becoming flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, for our sake, wrapped in swaddling bands and laid in a manger adored by the shepherds and hymned by the angelic powers, who sang:

Glory to God in the heavens
and on earth peace and good to men.

Make us worthy, Lord, to celebrate and to conclude in peace the feast which magnifies the rising of your light, by avoiding empty words, working with justice, fleeing from the passions, and raising up the spirit above earthly goods.

Bless your Church, formed long ago to be united with yourself through your life-giving blood. Come to the aid of your faithful shepherds, of the priests and the teachers of the Gospel.

Bless your faithful whose only hope is in your mercy; Christian souls, the sick, those who are tormented in spirit, and those who have asked us to pray for them.

Have pity, in your infinite clemency, and preserve us in fitness to receive the future, endless, good things. We celebrate your glorious Nativity with the Father who sent you for our redemption, with the life-giving Spirit, now and for ever and through all ages.
From Fr James Tucker
A defence of public Christmas displays
...I'm struck by the fact that you almost never find Orthodox Jews complaining about a Christmas creche in the public square. That is because their children, steeped in the richness of their own religious tradition, know who they are and are not threatened by Christians celebrating their religion in public. They are enlarged by it.

It is the more deracinated members of religious minorities, brought up largely ignorant of their own traditions, whose religious identity is so tenuous that they feel the need to be constantly on guard against displays of other religions -- and who think the solution to their predicament is to prevent the other guy from displaying his religion, rather than learning a bit about their own. ...
- Charles Krauthammer
From Fr James Tucker

Another side of the political battle in the Ukraine
Apparently Mr Yushchenko is Eastern Orthodox and from the northeastern Ukraine (which is Russian), not the Ukrainian Catholic southwest (old Polish Galicia and Ruthenia, both formerly Austrian) where most of his support is, and his supporters appear to be fervent Catholics based on this report. I’ve no idea of what if any faith Mr Yanukovych is. Still, Galicia can’t tell the rest of the country what to do and the US has no business meddling over there.
LRC pick
US relief group says get out of Iraq
You can scroll down to and click this blog’s entry five days ago, ‘Iraq peace petition’, to sign the petition
From David Virtue
As blogged earlier by Fr James Tucker:

Iconoclasm flares up in Kenya
These Presbyterians don’t know the proper view of icons

Thursday, December 23, 2004

LRC pick
A present I’ll never forget
The answer to the distortion of Christmas by retailers and advertisers using social pressure to guilt you out of your money. Arigato gozaimasu, Mike Rogers.

And, lest we forget:

My mother raised three sons and kept home all the while picking up sewing jobs whenever she could. She didn't come from a wealthy family and even if she had, it wouldn't have mattered: Her family in Japan disowned her for marrying an American. They couldn't believe that she would marry someone from a country that had so mercilessly bombed their homes. Some of my mother's relatives didn't speak to my mom again for almost 35 years.
More on Christmas from Fr Joseph Huneycutt:

I hate the shopping. I hate the frivolous debt. I hate supporting Communist China.
And from Terry Mattingly via Drake Adams:

Modern suburbs do not have a church in a public square at the center of town. Most don't have a public square at all and the true community center is the shopping mall.
Another reason besides nasty nouveau middle-class people (who’ve got some of the vices of the upper classes and few of the virtues) why I don’t like suburbia (I live in an Edwardian house in a place that’s really an extension of the city just across the border) and like places like York, England and St Clair and Frackville, Pennsylvania.
La noche before la Navidad
Clement Moore rendered in Spanglish, apparently from the Rio Grande Valley
From blog member Samer al-Batal
An update on a story blogged earlier about a joint RC-Russian Orthodox film project:

Patriarch of Moscow approves project

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

From blog member John Boyden
FBI e-mail refers to presidential order authorizing inhumane interrogation techniques
From The Perennial Rambler
Bah, humbug!
Seriously I love Christmas and as I’ve written here Catholics accept everything about Hanukkah but of course the modern secular Western celebration of Christmas has its faults. The Rambler out-curmudgeons and out-bitters me in criticizing them.

From The Onion
This year’s recalled Christmas toys
I won’t call them ‘holiday toys’ (and what the eff is a ‘holiday tree’, the Soviet New Year’s ёлка with the red five-pointed star on top?) as gifts aren’t part of New Year’s and they’re not really what Hanukkah is about either (it’s lighting candles and chanting Hebrew at home, full stop).

From Fr Joseph Huneycutt
Christians have been told their faith is represented in the season by Christmas trees and snowflake displays. If frozen water pellets represent my faith, should I genuflect before the icemaker in my refrigerator?
- Tim Chavez

Abuse notwithstanding, again I see the place of secular songs and decorations to include Jews and others but it is going too far, Soviet style.
LRC pick
God, Bush and functional atheism

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Residents of Hereford are Britain’s most devoted churchgoers
Which as you’ll see is a very relative term. Still, it warms the heart of this Hereford man four centuries removed.
Washington Post: 56 per cent say Iraq war is a mistake
You can only fool some of the people some of the time, even if you’ve got Faux News
Send me light
Send me dreaming
Send me the changing of the seasons.
- Julia Macklin
LRC pick
The exploitation of soldiers
Eastern churches
Russian Old Believers in Oregon (more)
I wonder if they are those with priests (who have their own metropolitan in Moscow), the priestless or both. The article says they have Mass, which suggests the first. Until I read all this I didn’t know there was an Old Believer hierarchy in America (except the former priestless in Erie who are now in the Russian Church Abroad).
From David Virtue
Reality of TV: it slams religion
Catholicism is in the bull’s-eye of the entertainment media.
- Brent Bozell

That’s not self-pity, people — it’s reality. The name of the game today and in future is marytrdom.

Bishops, bishops and more bishops
Related to the above:

Extra-mural Anglicans love bishops and they keep on consecrating them so that often a bishop does not have more than a few hundred people in his diocese.
I know that here Dr Toon ironically agrees with some of my friends, intending to criticize the Continuum, but in future, in a possible scenario where Catholics actually go underground, not dramatizing self-pity but really, fearfully go into hiding, such might not be a bad way to be: C21 taking a cue from C1 with small cells under bishops. Also, as I’ve written elsewhere, to learn how to do this a good model to study of a Catholic church in these straits — and not ‘early church’ either but one with a fully developed rite — is the Ukrainian Catholic Church when its homeland of old Polish Galicia was under Soviet rule.
From Quatloos!
Confronting a Nigerian spammer

Monday, December 20, 2004

From blog member Samer al-Batal
Eastern churches

Egyptian pope secludes himself in desert monastery
S al-B: With this act, Pope Shenouda has helped his flock by giving its grievances the weight of credence, seriousness, and more importantly where the government is concerned, authority with the official signal that the highest ranks of the clergy are royally miffed.

It also calls to mind the ancient Eastern rule that the bishop remains a monastic.

Let us pray for the pope and the Copts.
From John Treat
Advent letter from Jerusalem

Iraq peace petition
From The Rockall Times
Bye, bye, Blunkett
But as soon-to-be royal subject David Holford notes nothing really has changed
LRC pick for Christmas
War and social history as seen through war toys
Specifically how GI Joe (a cleverly marketed doll) has changed through the years: as American empire suffered a defeat the toymakers retreated into sci-fi and fantasy... until the 1980s:

Instead of the Russians or their surrogates, they chose to create a vaguer enemy – and in this, too, they were remarkably predictive. That enemy was a bogeyman called "terrorism" and it took the form of COBRA.
Interesting aside:

Hasbro researchers had discovered that a Springfield existed in every state – except Rhode Island, where the company was located.
Which is why the Simpsons live in Springfield — now we know they’re not in Rhode Island! (Which is where Peter Griffin lives, in Quahog.)

A couple of things are disturbing: how in a way childhood as measured by playing with toys has shortened for both boys and girls (but at the same time, not noted by Engelhardt, in real terms it’s unnaturally prolonged into one’s 20s*) and how a shared history across generations** even in corrupt form (as once taught through things like toys) has been lost.

*So you end up with young people with a lot of the vices of adults but few of the virtues.

**Religious and national culture: myth in the best sense.
Eastern churches
From Drake Adams

Is the Feast of the Holy Hasidic Fathers in the Eastern Orthodox calendar a version/continuation of Hanukkah?
Makes sense because, as I blogged earlier, the Maccabees are in the Catholic Old Testament.
From blog member Samer al-Batal
Robert Fisk asks:

Who killed Baha Mousa?

From Baghdad Burning:

The two latest entries by ‘the girl blogger from Iraq’:

Fuel shortage...

...and electricity, elections, borders, and destruction.

People are wondering how America and gang (i.e. Iyad Allawi, etc.) are going to implement democracy in all of this chaos when they can't seem to get the gasoline flowing in a country that virtually swims in oil.

We're also watching the election lists closely. Most people I've talked to aren't going to go to elections. It's simply too dangerous and there's a sense that nothing is going to be achieved anyway. The lists are more or less composed of people affiliated with the very same political parties whose leaders rode in on American tanks. Then you have a handful of tribal sheikhs. Yes- tribal sheikhs. Our country is going to be led by members of religious parties and tribal sheikhs- can anyone say Afghanistan? What's even more irritating is that election lists have to be checked and confirmed by none other than Sistani!! Sistani - the Iranian religious cleric. So basically, this war helped us make a transition from a secular country being run by a dictator to a chaotic country being run by a group of religious clerics. Now, can anyone say 'theocracy in sheep's clothing'?
S al-B: Sistani is a smart and skilled diplomat and influential figure, and one would do good to keep a constant eye on him in the press.

Christmas wishlist...
S al-B: What Iraqis want for Christmas.
When Santa delivers please make sure he is wearing a bullet-proof vest and helmet.
I don't think our good ukht has received word, but in a manner of speaking, Christmas has been cancelled this year.

A dark Christmas in Iraq
After a painful year of church bombings, death threats and assassinations, Iraq's 800,000 Christians have all but canceled Christmas.

Some churches will also forgo Christmas Eve Mass, a step unheard of even during Saddam Hussein's regime.

{Father} Haddad, who will keep his church open for Christmas services, said the hard times would encourage Christians to reflect on the religious significance of the holiday, rather than focus on gifts and parties. His Christmas Eve sermon — for those who show up to hear it — will draw parallels between the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the Roman occupation of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus Christ, a message he said he hoped would inspire worshipers. {sic}
Samer’s LRC pick
West has bloodied hands
S al-B: Who was the first high government official to authorize use of mustard gas against rebellious Kurdish tribesmen in Iraq? Not whom you think, says Eric Margolis.

And Ba`thist Iraq's greatest crime?

Not the first answer that comes to mind: the war with Iran - and Iraq was not the only guilty player.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Pro-life–related news
Baby stolen from slain mother’s womb, survives (another link and more commentary here)
BTW ‘fœtus’ simply means ‘child’

Today at least in some places along with Ember Saturday the Roman Rite celebrates Our Lady’s pregnancy: the Expectation.

Lord, in Thy mercy: hear our prayer.
LRC picks
The last secular Arab country
Our own Samer al-Batal’s native land may be Mr Bush’s handlers’ scapegoat for the ‘insurgency’ since of course all right-thinking Iraqis loooove being invaded. (Samer can supply the Arabic for ‘Yankee, go home’.) Uh, secular Arab countries didn’t do 9/11. How stupid do Mr B’s handlers think we are? Well, considering their sock-puppet was just elected...

The three stooges
Blunderers in the war on Iraq get the US ‘Medal of Freedom’. Orwellian that.

The unjustly imprisoned
Not just at Guantánamo
Eastern churches
Serbian Orthodox harassed by government in Kosovo
Monastery ordered not to rebuild by KFOR as it might ‘irritate’ the Albanians — stuff that for a lark

Mediæval miracle icon owned by Russian Church Abroad visits neighbouring St Nicholas Cathedral in New York
I’ve seen the icon and have been to St Nicholas’, the New York cathedral the Tsar built around the turn of the last century, several times for services with a congregation of Russian expats. (Bishop Merkury is a nice man — a pædiatrician before he became a bishop.) The Russian diocese of New York lost St N’s in a court case, I think in the 1920s, to the Soviet-puppet ‘Living Church’ (who tried to do a Vatican II number to Russian Orthodoxy and resoundingly failed), which is why it remained the property of the Church of Russia. In Soviet times the FBI or the CIA used to stake out the place hiding in the houses across the street, keeping it under surveillance — in a way understandable but it seems too obvious a place for Commie spies. That all seems to be water under the bridge now. The Russian diocese ended up starting anew around 1943 in the East Side at Protection Cathedral in what I think used to be an Episcopal church — this and the other Russian dioceses are now the OCA and the cathedral serves Georgian immigrants.
Soldier’s heart
Thousands of Iraq War veterans will come home to face serious psychological problems and a system that may not be ready to help them

Lord, in Thy mercy: hear our prayer.
Briton details US abuse at Guantánamo
"They jumped on my legs and back and they kicked and punched me," said the 37-year-old Web site designer and father of three from Manchester, England. "Then I was put in isolation for a month."

Al-Harith said he was kept mostly in a wire cage and given food marked "10 to 12 years beyond their usable date" as well as "black and rotten" fruit. Sometimes, unmuzzled dogs were brought to the cage and encouraged to bark, he said.

Friday, December 17, 2004

LRC blog pick
How the religious left and religious right respectively and together get it wrong
Ties into yesterday’s entry here about taking God’s name in vain. ‘Neither the sickle nor the swastika’ as a formative former friend of mine once put it. Indeed: neither Jim Wallis’ economics nor Pat Robertson’s geopolitics. In the centre where it always has been and/or even defying temporal definitions of right and left, but not right and wrong, is the Catholic faith.
Israel’s fifth column in Washington
LRC pick
The folly of empire
Mr Bush’s handlers are frighteningly like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson but those dreadful presidents seemed to learn from their mistakes — the people in power today seem not to or not to care

Indeed, the "national greatness" thesis propounded by the neoconservative founders of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), whose charter members in 1997 included Rumsfeld, Cheney, and more than half a dozen others who would occupy top foreign-policy posts in the Bush administration, derives directly from Roosevelt and his "imperialist" associates of the late 1800s.

To the administration's neoconservative boosters, Bush represents a synthesis of the wisdom of the two presidents – the Republican realist and the Democratic idealist – who are among the most beloved in the generally hazy historical memory of the nation.

But unlike Bush... both predecessors learned from their experience that doing so unilaterally and through the use of force was destined to fail.
The same reason Douglas MacArthur, the Cold War hawk of Korea, begged Lyndon Johnson to get out of Vietnam.

And although Wilson failed to bring the country into the League of Nations due to personal inflexibility and a devastating stroke, he had set the ideological stage on which 25 years later Franklin Roosevelt would found a new multilateral order designed in major part to dismantle the imperialism of the previous century.
Not so much. As MacArthur sussed in Korea, where he was in a new role as an ‘international officer’, like Iraq today it wasn’t really an international effort but the US (the continuation and indeed expansion of the British Empire after World War I per the Rhodes Group, now the CFR?) and also-rans/supporting players (as hilariously lampooned by Michael Moore on film re: Iraq this past year), really a new form of what HM Dominions and protectorates were in the old Empire (Australians at Gallipoli for example).

The UN, like American aggression definitely is, may simply be really imperialism in a new guise.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

From Charles Glenn Wingate
Personal holiness and social justice aren’t mutually exclusive
For Christians, there is no choice between personal purity and social action. If you think that what you do in the bedroom is private and doesn't affect everyone around you: that's self-indulgent wishful thinking. If you think that leading a pure life is enough: purity also lies in how you treat others, even though whom you cannot see. Ridicule purity, ridicule charity, ridicule those who advocate either, and you're writing your own ticket to hell, along with anyone foolish enough to follow you.
An authentically Catholic statement.
Eastern churches
Historical photo of the day no. 2

From Tarkovsky’s long confusing film Andrei Rublyov. What Russian Orthodox monks’ habits looked like in mediæval times. Today only the patriarch of Moscow wears that kind of hat, in white with a cross on top and pictures of angels sewn on it.
The apostolic ministry in action
Historical photo of the day

St Pius of Pietrelcina (better known worldwide as Padre Pio) kisses the ring of (reverend father in God) Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1967
Onion pick
What do you think? US troops in Iraq complain
Sì, a punto.
What does ‘taking God’s name in vain’ really mean?
I’ve come around to believing it means something more — and more serious — that blurting out one of His names as an interjection and includes but is broader than literally asking God to damn someone. It covers things like Pat Robertson’s and Jerry Falwell’s ‘God is pro-war’ support of Mr Bush’s handlers ordering troops to murder Iraqis. No different really from the Gott mit uns (God is with us, or God is on our side) motto of the Wehrmacht during World War II. Taking God’s name in vain is the blasphemy of trying to turn Him into the instrument or at least the cheering mascot of your will, rather than the other way round. (Liberals trying to bend scripture and the rest of tradition to support their pet causes like gay church weddings are guilty of the same thing.)
On Advent
Or why even the secular world seems a bit Catholic this time of year:

The West has created a vision of the glory of the Incarnation so brilliant that even the secular world is pulled into it. They then get it wrong of course, but what of it? That can be resisted.
- Charles Glenn Wingate

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Catholic faith
Katolik Shinja
Where does the Bible come from?
By Mark Shea
The trump card for arguing with Protestants. The Eastern Orthodox particularly have a bead on this point: as Bishop Kallistos (Ware) writes, the Bible is part of Tradition.
From The Spectator via David’s Daily Diversions
Making fun of make-believe
A punto. In ‘A Kwanzaa Karol’, Kathy Shaidle explains succinctly and humorously why Kwanzaa is kraap. I’ve never known any black people who celebrate it and one once said to me it’s just a made-up holiday.
Eastern churches
Archimandrite Boniface (Luykx) memorial page
Apparently he died last Easter

Also, Musings of a Pertinaceous Papist blogs that another legit-liturgical-movement and legit-ecumenical pioneer, Fr Louis Bouyer, who like Fr Boniface saw his life’s work betrayed by Vatican II, died in October, in his 80s. (I didn’t know he was still alive!) A sound Catholic and former Lutheran, I understand he was on the cutting edge of dialogue between the two traditions. I like confessional Lutheranism — at its highest it’s very like this blog’s Mass-and-office Catholicism.
Asperger syndrome
Like seeing the world through beer goggles
Wrong Planet hasn’t been as great as I expected — my guess is a message board made up mostly of teenagers who are unsocial is self-defeating. (I detect the problem of talking at, not to others.) But every now and then a posting gives some really good insight into the condition. Here are a couple of examples:

...for people with AS, when someone is annoyed, we tend to think they're angry, and when they're angry, we tend to think we're in danger... always thinking that someone is more upset than they actually are.

A person said hi, I thought they were my best friend...
True when I was a kid.

These either are examples of or like the perception problems (oversensitivity to noise is another one of mine) I have to consciously walk myself around every day. Normal people don’t give these situations a second thought because they don’t have to — they don’t perceive them the same way. Without my reasoning through them, my impressions are like looking through a virtual-reality distortion of reality (or, low-tech, beer goggles!) or a fun-house mirror (except when you’re a kid and don’t know what’s wrong, it isn’t fun!).

It’s like what I understand John Nash (from A Beautiful Mind) does: he tells himself the voices he hears (no, I don’t hallucinate — I’m not schizophrenic) aren’t real and gets on with his life, running the things he perceives through his brain, which he’s set in normal-person ‘emulation mode’.

Like using loads of brain power to do the equivalent of what glasses or contacts do for the eyes!

And as I like to say, AS isn’t a mental illness — like being colour-blind you may be reacting quite sanely to the perception tricks your brain is playing on you.
Lethal weapon: neocon groupies
By Ilana Mercer
Who unlike the women she criticizes is often on the right side of things but like them is quite attractive!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

From blog member Samer al-Batal
Lots from The Times today!

Pro-life news:

A reptilian society
BRITAIN’S leading medical ["]ethics expert["] has suggested that the frail and elderly should consider suicide to stop them becoming a financial burden on their families and society.

"In other contexts, sacrificing oneself for one’s family would be considered good. I don't see what is so horrible about the motive of not wanting to be an increasing nuisance."
S al-B: You can’t get more cold-blooded than this.

Lord, in Thy mercy: hear our prayer.
From Katolik Shinja
Does Scott Peterson deserve to die?
The court could have given him life in prison but yes.
From David Virtue
+ York: Britain no longer Christian

Hope [a former Anglo-Catholic BTW and former principal of my old college, which has a spiffy new website] was the only senior cleric in Britain to support the war in Iraq but said that he regretted it now. He also expressed disappointment about the misleading information given to the public before the invasion.

Church faces implosion and life underground
A SENIOR adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury has issued an apocalyptic warning about the future of the Church of England, forecasting that Christianity in Britain will be driven underground and that the Church will fragment.

In a private document presented this week to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr David Hope, Jayne Ozanne suggested that a time of great persecution was coming.
The Russian Old Believers’ paranoia well may become fact for all Catholics — as well as Evangelicals and even Central Churchmen before the Parousia.

Also in The Times:

High Court inquiry into torture and death of Iraqi civilian in British custody
LRC picks
Goodbye, newspapers
Fine with me even though I’ve worked for them for nearly 10 years! It’s all so digitized now anyway — why not not move to the Web? All my work skills are transferable there. No more wasted paper, part of good stewardship of God’s creation/this blog’s ideal of granola conservatism (see links on the right-hand side of this page).

So as far as I'm concerned, hang the classic American Dream from the yardarm! It's not real. It's for a select few. Let them have it. Most who pursue it die of heart failure, brain aneurysms, self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head or run away livers. And what do they get for all their work, a giant prefab tract home, a Porsche Boxter and season seats to the Lakers? All worthless pieces of dung in reality.
Believe it or not there are parallels to my own life in Tom Chartier’s. Somebody in my shoes lives on the margins of mainstream society anyway — not necessarily because people like me want to; it’s just what we do. But it has its advantages and I wouldn’t mind living even more like him even without the tropical setting.

It’s most un-tropical here! Right now it’s about -5 degrees C (around the 20s F) and I’ve got one electric fire going in my two Edwardian rooms. The privation reminds me of England, LOL, and the rooms are beautiful especially with the little white Christmas lights plugged in, framing the eight-foot front windows.

Eaten recently
Buffalo meat
It’s delicious

Monday, December 13, 2004

From Jan Bear
Did Arius hit back?
More on St Nicholas
On the spiritual and healing properties of music
I absolutely believe in the healing properties of certain music and certain sounds. I haven’t studied this in great depth, but I know it intuitively and also empirically, from my own experience. There is a study cited in the book "Chanting" by Robert Gass in which children who are suffering from cancer in a hospital experience a decrease in stress and a boost in their immune system after they sing songs and participate in music. I would be grateful to know that any music that I have recorded or performed has had that effect. I know that the music of October Project has achieved that from the many, many letters we have received over the years.
- Marina Belica

You can try it yourself! The Catholic faith is chock-a-block with the stuff.
From Karl Thienes
Arian, Aryan
LOL. Actually it makes some sense as the Germans who overthrew Rome were Arians.

One of those ‘it’s funny ’cos he’s right and doesn’t even know it’ moments like a line on ‘Joey’ from the title character: ‘He’s like a Russian Joe Stalin!’

As Russian speakers can tell you, Iosif Dzugashvili, alias Josef Stalin, wasn’t Russian — he had a heavy Georgian accent all his life and his Russian sounded a bit stilted, natural from a foreigner.
From Fr Joseph Huneycutt
Outkast revisited to celebrate Hanukkah
Outkast — now they came and went fast! Anyway this bit of computer Flash is funny. Of course Catholics believe in everything about Hanukkah — after all it’s still in our Bible and no longer in the Tanakh.
From Drake Adams
An outside-the-box take on ‘Christianity v. Islam’
From an Israeli convert to Greek Orthodoxy. I like it, except of course Islam is to Eastern Christianity as Mormonism* is to Protestantism, an offshoot that went beyond heresy to apostasy and thus is a non-Christian faith (though the Mormons, like the 19th-century Protestants whence they came, claim they’re the refounded true Christian faith). Dalrymple has written about this and friend Brendan Ross has observed that Islam has taken lots from the Christian East — the prostrations and even the mosque, a de-icon’d stolen Eastern Christian church. (Although Islam took from the Assyrian Church, whose rite is older than Byzantine iconography.)

Christmas decorations and services at Unitarian churches: uh, why?

*LDS = 19th-century Protestantism on LSD
Meet St Colman
Amazingly I didn’t get this from our resident Irish speaker Daithi Mac Lochlainn but rather from Joseph Oliveri
LRC pick
Attention, well-meaning red-staters!

How the ‘family-values’ administration are trying to sneak more women into combat
While I consider war to be a tragedy that should be avoided by all reasonable means, I find the idea of women engaging in combat to be particularly unconscionable. Call me old-fashioned, but I still cling to an admittedly traditional attitude towards women. They are beautiful… they are wonderful… and the idea of having them participate in the butchery of combat is too grotesque to contemplate.

This represents, in my humble opinion, a new low in our spiral to Imperial oblivion. The last vestiges of Western chivalry are evaporating in the face of the cold calculations of Leviathan’s war machine (and this just refers to the female combat angle… I won’t even comment on how this memo refers to our soldiers as "inventory").

We are sacrificing our sons, our liberty, and our fiscal solvency on the altar of interventionism and "benevolent world hegemony." None of these policies have even one iota to do with our Republic and the well-being of our citizens.

Now the Empire is coming for our daughters, our wives, and our mothers.
Book pick
From an American former Regular Army officer — I’ve heard him in person and he knows what he’s talking about and is entirely fair on the issue
From blog member Samer al-Batal
What I learned in the GuLag
An excerpt from The Gulag Archipelago:
Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.
S al-B: Да! Sasha gets it. Christian doctrine on sin and the nature of Man trumps Marxist hooey.

The third intifada
Protesting against Israel’s wall

Justin Raimondo on the Ukrainian farrago
Eastern churches
Вечная память
I’ve been told that Fr Boniface (Luykx), the Belgian legit-liturgical-movement veteran and peritus at Vatican II whose reaction to that council’s betrayal of his life’s work was to join the Ukrainian Catholic Church and start a monastery in California, has died.

Who you gonna call?
A Russian-American friend who travels to Russia often (and went to seminary there!) tells me that some Muslim group are getting antsy in the Crimea (I imagine the Tartars as that’s one of their homelands), tearing down an outdoor cross monument. The Russians are relying on the local Cossacks for police protection.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

From Dappled Things
Cryogenic frogs
Not science fiction but fact!
Bart! You’re wearing a sarcastic T-shirt! I like shirts with nice jokes like ‘Support Our Troops’.
- Marge Simpson
O tempora, o mores

Hello, Dieter. Du bist habst ein Dream.

Is vhat’s left of Catholic Europe goink down ze drain?
At last night’s October Project show Emil Adler described talking to a German fellow interested in marketing OP on the Continent and when Emil mentioned doing an OP remake of Christmas songs this chap — whom Emil described as very like Mike Myers’ Dieter character (of ‘Sprockets’) — said, ‘Vhat? In Europe no-one is interested in Christmas’. How you do find the Continent these days, John?
On the box

Potemkin (click here to watch!)
Братья! В кого стреляешь?
Like Triumph of the Will one of the greatest propaganda films ever made for an evil cause. Works even with the camp literal moustache-twirling officer villians. Nearly every scene is a gem. Doesn’t make the church look too good: underneath the brass crucifix, the beard and the рясса (big-sleeved over-cassock) the Orthodox priest aboard the Potemkin is an arrogant, sadistic bastard. One of many outstanding little scenes: when the firing squad is about to shoot a group of sailors rounded up on the fo’c’s’le he smacks his blessing crucifix against his palm like a club. The point Sergei Eisenstein’s handlers are trying to make is laughable in retrospect: ‘of course once the bad old church is out of the way people won’t be treated that way anymore in the glorious Soviet Union, no, sir!’

Reminds me of my truth-in-advertising rewrite of ‘The Times, They Are a-Changin’’:
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
— orelsewe’llburndownyourvillagesandcrucifyyourpriests,
andsendyoutotheGuLags* —
For the tiiiiiiimes, they are a-chaaaaangin’...
Yes, even the Catholic religion of that priest can be abused, including just like the Communists accused. In humility the church can only admit that. But the church is a paradox: sinless and infallible, and made up of fallible and sinful people. Abusus non tollit usum.

I’ve met or known two priests who were retired Navy men, one British, the other American, and one (the American coincidentally) really was like that, mean as a snake.

Tsardom wasn’t perfect either: witness the pogroms, the Russo-Japanese War and miring the country in World War I because of entangling treaties and misguided loyalty (‘help Orthodox Serbia’).

*Singing fast hoping you won’t notice, like a legal disclaimer at the end of an ad
Who I’m listening to
October Project revisited
At Marina Belica’s birthday concert late last night — 10 years after I first was smitten with her on a riverside outdoor stage, where I was among an audience of about 40,000, she is still one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met as well as a talented singer, songwriter and pianist. С днём рождения, Марина! Многая лета. (An ethnic Slovak, she studied Russian but doesn’t use it much while I use it but haven’t taken courses in it, so it balances out when we talk, LOL.)

Back when e-mail was a novelty to the mainstream and OP had a different lead singer and were on a big record label there was the ‘OPus’ e-mail list and chat in which nine years ago I got to welcome into the world Julian Emil Adler, now the articulate fellow I talked to a bit last night about how boring and unfair some sports can be (we’re not kickball fans really) and looking cool decked out in an official black concert ‘SECURITY’ T-shirt.

Composer Emil Adler and poet/lyricist Julie Flanders (Julian’s parents) have written some of the best pop songs I’ve ever heard. I understand a full-length album should be out next year.
The apostolic ministry in action
The Inn at the End of the World
Fatwa on ‘Frosty’
Diocese of Kerry bans secular song from churches

Quite right, as is John’s remark:

The good news is that they’ve done it; the bad news is that it needed to be done at all.
Can’t see good old Fr McAnally in Ballykissangel (which used to be the TV name of the village of Avoca — don’t know which diocese or county it’s in) tolerating that to begin with.

Avoca BTW has a beautiful almost intact 19th-century-looking neo-Gothic parish church.

Speaking of ‘Bally-K’, the girl who played Niamh was the loveliest, more so than the one who played village atheist Assumpta Fitzgerald in the early series (and AFAIK yes, in real life dated the actor who played Fr Peter Clifford). And I learnt from it that Niamh is pronounced ‘Neeve’.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

From David’s Daily Diversions
American home-schoolers 1, Balliol College, Oxford nil
In moot court. Something to remember the next time you hear somebody try to paint 1) all American Southerners, 2) all religious Christians and/or 3) home-schoolers as stupid or ignorant. BTW David is an American former lawyer himself.

Like I tried to say a while back I hate the result of the presidential election but I like red-staters.
Eastern churches
Who should be Russian Orthodoxy’s patron saint of this medium?
I thought it was undecided in Western Catholicism too — IIRC Pope Pius XII declared St Clare the patroness of the then-new medium of TV so some have claimed her for the ’Net as well. But I learnt from this that St Isidore of Seville, the last Latin Church Father, was chosen very recently for the Roman Rite. I’m sure someone wonderful will be found for the Church of Russia and for all the Christian East.
The election in the Ukraine
Like I said, nobody’s clean over there
From blog member Samer al-Batal
Eastern churches

Subdeacon Kareem il-Far
What Byzantine chant in English is supposed to sound like

Samer says that Greek and Arabic church chant are in the same family but that, understandably, a trained musicologist can hear that the Arabic version sounds even more Oriental.
Animals know
The higher ones are spiritually sensitive, which leads me to believe they live on in some form after death. First a word about my neighbours. The people in the flat upstairs are what are known in the States as ‘trailer trash’ (like dirty, naff council-estate proles), only these are particularly malevolent, not only fighting with each other (the police have come round at least once) but, insidiously, using gossip to try to play me and the landlord against each other (rows over maintenance). Then there are my friends on this floor and their nine-month-old yellow Lab-border collie mix, my good buddy Spike. Last night the gossipy matriarch of the upstairs clan (I’ve named her either Granny Clampett or Mammy Yoakum) was bringing in groceries at the front of the house and Spike reacted to her, not aggressively but by getting spooked, like he’d seen a ghost or a demon. Well, perhaps he did! He cowered and cried, begging me to get him inside right now! I’ve never seen him act like that before.

I’ve also had this kind of oppression happen both here and elsewhere.

There he quickly fell asleep. Sometime later he awoke to find the room completely black and found breathing almost impossible. There was a great weight on his chest. He appeared to be suffocating. He tried to pray but the words impossible and so mentally recited the Lord's prayer. Slowly the weight began to lift...
Very scary indeed.

Glad I’m well stocked with holy water, the daily office, a first-class relic of St Augustine and many icons in my home.
LRC pick
The moral of the kuckuck bird
Watching nature in Sabine Barnhart’s Germany
Unlike the other birds, this peculiar bird, which looks like a bird of prey, is a breeding parasite. This bird does not know how to build a nest and raise its chicks.
Exactly like the royal mess the secular world has made of people sex, what?
From Katolik Shinja
Remembering Thomas Merton (Fr Mary Louis, OCSO)
Who died in a freak accident 36 years ago yesterday. I place him with the sound Catholic writers on the cutting edge in the category I describe here, not with ‘the end of the world’ in the 1960s despite some unsound types’ co-optation of him. (Among his only possessions when he died were his rosary and his Cistercian breviary in Latin.) The Seven-Storey Mountain is a great book containing much of the first school’s thought that I’d recommend to anyone.

Eastern Orthodoxy and the death penalty
Dispelling the black legend believed by the ‘pravoslavophobic’ West. Like the Pope I’m a 99.9% disbeliever in it but I maintain the view of traditional moral theology that some crimes forfeit your right to live — your choice. The court can have mercy on you and spare your life but doesn’t have to. People who deserve it include Ira Einhorn (when I found out what happened to Holly Maddux I literally couldn’t eat the next day), whoever survives from the group that actually staged 9/11 (however understandable their motive — that doesn’t excuse murdering around 3,000 civilians) and those who executed Margaret Hassan.
LRC pick

Mike Rogers on Christmas in Japan. I understand the only reason most Japanese even know about it — in a Shinto and largely Buddhist country — is because of American occupation after losing World War II.

Besides young couples giving jewelry to each other, presents are seldom given on Christmas.
Fascinating. I’d thought it was a big retail period there completely unrelated to religion because of imitating the US. I was wrong! There is the macabre funny story, perhaps apocryphal, of the Japanese shopping-centre owner or manager, like most Japanese not Christian, who decided to decorate for this Christian holiday by putting up a crucifix with Santa on it!

The legend of Father Christmas (‘to which order does he belong?’) is fine and of course I like him ’cos he looks like a Russian батюшка (parish priest or monk)! The English version in full uniform even wears a shoulder cape like in the Roman Rite — red and fur-trimmed like the Pope! But the people who keep up or revive the real story of St Nicholas are on the right track. The Russians have Дедушка Морож (Grandfather Frost) who looks more like a wizard, a whimsical force of nature not really to do with morality or judgement. (Some say he’s a Soviet invention but I think he’s traditional, a bit of real folklore.)

Новогодный день (New Year’s) is a big deal with the Russians — always has been and perhaps made more so from Soviet times when Christmas was suppressed. The ёлка (tree), semiblasphemously with the red Soviet star back then, and parties were for that holiday.

Christmas trees are German (and spread to northern Slavs as you can see) — as the story of St Boniface tells, they were iconic of the old German and Norse gods. The culture was baptized. They were unknown in England probably as late as Dickens — Prince Albert brought the custom over from his native Germany. (Wonder if the Hanoverian kings — that house is still reigning, BTW — brought it over first.) And they were unknown in Rome until the reigning Pontiff, who has imported this Northern custom from Poland into the piazza of St Peter with gusto.

Heard Boris Karloff narrate ‘The Grinch’ last night, a Stateside classic. Did you know that 1) like Leopold Stokowski he was English (Stoki’s paternal grandfather was Polish), 2) his real name was William Henry Pratt and 3) he got his stage last name from a real family name somewhere in his heritage?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Mr Bush has spent $65M+ he hasn’t got to try to buy Ukrainian election
Once again: conservative my arse
Couldn’t resist

‘NBA action is faaaaantastic’
Thanks to CounterPunch for the idea
From CounterPunch
It’s time to disclose the real casualty figures, Mr Bush
By Ralph Nader
On the box
The jokes are horrible but the execs seem to have figured out the only reason people watch this show other than out of habit from watching ‘Friends’ is mid-level adorable Andrea Anders. (Drea de Matteo leaves me cold.) I (and they must) reckon she’s a ratings-magnet so they’re dressing her accordingly. I’m not complaining.

Matt LeBlanc essentially has inherited Tony Danza’s good-hearted dope routine. I think he’d work better playing somebody less like Joey and more like himself — a working-class ethnic French guy from Massachusetts. Of course Andrea can stay on after the retooling, even though she hasn’t got that accent.

Speaking of Massachusetts, which I got to know a little bit when I was doing a lot of driving to Maine five years ago, The Perfect Storm is worth seeing: good writing, good acting, good effects, a story for weather junkies like me and the girls have got George Clooney (who perhaps wisely didn’t try on the accent) to look at.

Business Bitches ‘The Apprentice’
Sandy’s now gone so there’s no more reason for me to watch other than to have a semi-interesting glimpse (sure, in cartoon form) of that world, as is that new hardcover book from Carolyn whatshername.

That Pepsi bottle with the two globes was one of the dumbest things I’ve seen.

P.S. My favourite seventh Friend? There are three: Richard (Tom Selleck), Emily (Helen Baxendale) and Charlie (?). Maybe Richard and Emily can get together...
What’s with Clay Aiken?
Game-show runner-up goes diva on New Jersey kids

Disobeying an order

The case of US Army Reserve 343rd Quartermaster Company
They weren’t cowards as some try to paint them — William Manchester wrote that he did the same thing in the Marines during World War II, namely, as a practical battlefield decision disobeying an order from a new sergeant or officer when he and the other combat veterans knew the mission would fail and the men in the unit would get killed. In Goodbye, Darkness he describes such a superior ordering the Marines to go ‘over the top’ (proving, explains Manchester, that he didn’t know what he was talking about — World War I soldiers did that, not island-fighting Marines), ended up going up himself and promptly and literally getting ripped to shreds by machine-gun fire.

Still I understand why the Army did what it did in order to maintain its internal discipline — in theory the men are supposed to follow orders without question, even if that means certainly getting killed.

GI admits to killing wounded 16-year-old Iraqi

This just sucks
An Army reservist who checked himself into a civilian psychiatric hospital after being turned away from a military clinic should be court-martialed for being absent without leave, according to an Army report.

Amaral recommended in his Nov. 5 report that Goodrum be court-martialed for being AWOL while in the civilian psychiatric facility; for failing to obey an order that he return to Fort Knox or follow the necessary medical leave procedures; and for fraternizing with his sergeant, a woman, while in Iraq.
That rule makes perfect sense from the military POV and exists so officers like Goodrum can impartially send people on missions knowing they’ll get killed. Of course putting girls in combat and aboard warships, then being surprised that ‘fraternization’ goes on, sounds stupid: as Luther wrote (to give him his due) it’s like putting fire and straw together and not expecting smoke!

An example proving that last point: on the front in Iraq, Lynndie England (cue Otto the bus-driver: ‘You used to be a dude, right? I won’t tell anyone!’) got pregnant.
LRC blog picks
Rummy the insufferable

Bernard Kerik and the myth of Rudy Giuliani

Famous former atheist now believes in God
From blog member John Boyden
Ex-US Marine testifies at trial in Canada: US soldiers killed unarmed Iraqis
From Dappled Things
‘Teacher, leave them kids alone’
On a tangent, I understand that then-chorus of ‘Sarf London’ schoolkids are still suing Pink Floyd or the record company for residuals owed them for the song
LRC pick
The war itself is the war crime