Monday, December 08, 2014

Conceived immaculate

  • O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. A book whose link Dom Benedict Andersen shared on Facebook. That Mary is sinless is simply Catholic, Eastern and Western; idiomatic Greek for Our Lady is Παναγία (Panagia, pah-nah-ghee-ah), all-holy. The Byzantine Rite celebrates this feast on Dec. 9 (Gregorian)/22 (Julian) because of the truth that only God is in himself perfect (so it's not exactly nine months before Nativity BVM, as the Annunciation is exactly nine months before Christmas); Mary, in order to be the Mother of God, was MADE perfect, redeemed retroactively by her son, as God is not limited by time and space. I don't believe Mary grew up in the Holy of Holies but the Immaculate Conception is entirely believable exactly because it was invisible. Blessed be her holy and immaculate conception.
  • Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuae et locum habitationis gloriae tuae. My parish church in a haze of incense after my Sunday Sung Mass. Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo. Note the average age of the congregation.
  • History:
    • Remember Pearl Harbor the right way. 73 years ago yesterday. As the veterans are now in their 90s, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association just had its last official reunion on location. Lots of good-hearted flag-waving from others, such as on one of my favorite radio stations, WVLT. But they don't know the whole story. Regular readers know my line. While the Japanese were no saints in Asia (they wanted to rule it as Germany wanted to run continental Europe as it naturally should, the British ran much of Africa, and the United States rules the Americas), they weren't really our problem; as much as I love the '40s as part (the start?) of our golden era, including Americans' unabashed patriotism and solidarity, I am a complete revisionist about World War II (America First) and thus do not hate the Japanese. (The Germans and the Japanese had neither plans nor the means to invade us.) The perfidious, Constitution-breaking FDR maneuvered America into the war by goading Japan (embargo, asset-freezing, violating American neutrality by forming the Flying Tigers); as far as I'm concerned, the blood of those 2,000 American sailors is on him. (The Japanese Navy pilots attacked military targets. We nuked civilians.) Fact about the war: the USSR won; we were only supporting players, made so partly because FDR's government was riddled with Communists (why the left gets weirdly nostalgic and even militaristic about this war). We might have been better off if Willkie won in '40, even if he was just a ringer.
    • Anecdotal history. The other day a man who noticed my leather Navy flight jacket talked to me about the war, claiming that German-born and ethnic German fishermen on the New Jersey shore would sneak out in their boats to the U-boats (submarines) and trade with the Germans. They weren't Nazis or Bundists; it's just that the war wasn't theirs. He claimed not only did the fishermen speak the language but they got gold for American goods such as bourbon and that there was a Masonic connection, even though Hitler banned the Masons (so what?). I think some people in neutral Ireland did that (but many others fought for the British). Free enterprise is a way to peace.
    • John Lennon. He died 34 years ago today. "Boomer Jesus," a formidable culture-wars enemy (the Beatles were an instrument of great evil, kicking off the Sixties, though I still don't know how a mere pop group pulled that off) and a considerable talent. (Born in '40, technically he wasn't a boomer.) "Imagine" is pure evil, partly because it is a beautiful song. Not the nice guy people think but he wanted to stay in America because he was happy here. He almost would have rather died young (I'm older than he was when he was murdered) than been miserable in England today. RIP. God have mercy on him.
    • Populuxe. My good friend Karl just lent me this book. Great stuff. American commercial aesthetics from 1954 to 1964, which goes by many names: the Fifties, the space age, doo-wop (not just the music, as Wildwood has taught me), googie, the Kennedy era, and mid-century. As I call it, the golden era. America's peak. You had postwar prosperity AND the old values hadn't fallen. The book's title is a made-up word combining "popular" or "populist" with "luxury"; sounds like a brand name then. The book has intelligent commentary, not TOO smug with "we know better now." There was beauty including sex appeal, and elegance (Jackie Kennedy), plus innovation in design and production from a confident country that was still an industrial dynamo. Part of this style's appeal and nostalgia, and also why the elite makes fun of it (irony, kitsch), is that it appealed to the formerly working-class. (Paul Fussell: archaism as in Georgian colonial is high-class; ultramodern has always been low-class.) Lots of Catholics, including lots of Italian-Americans, took this style to heart. We had arrived in American society, already almost entirely accepted by the time of the war (during the war, backlash made the feds back off harassing Italians). (Then we threw it away at Vatican II and fell for the Rockefellers' contraception blitz.) People from this background who were around then don't say they were oppressed. They miss it. (Been to enough classic-car shows and oldies concerts to confirm that. It's how the people who danced on "American Bandstand" here feel.) Another name it's now called: "Mad Men." Accidental nostalgia: Matthew Weiner obsessively re-created the era to celebrate its fall ("we know better now," the message of the animation in the opening credits) but did such a good job that a lot of viewers thought, unironically, it was pretty neat.
  • The Anti-Gnostic: Post-secondary education is one of the clearer examples of government good intentions paving the road to hell, and the distortions are obvious and legion: completely unmarketable and academically shoddy Grievance-Studies and other programs; tenured, Marxist bureaucrats; minor league for the NFL; duplicative and unnecessary science, such as professors of Polar and Marine Biology in, of all places, the University of Alabama at Birmingham; tuition rising to the clouds, even as the job market shrinks. I could devote a whole separate blog to this, with an entry each day.

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