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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem

He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

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Irish Elk
Tuesday, November 26, 2002  
TR, turkeys &c

This November being marked by the centennial of the Teddy Bear as well as the traditional Thanksgiving holiday, the talented Perfessor Bill offers a selection of vintage rags appropriate to the season. (Scroll to "What's New.")

Meantime, here's an article that examines the rage for bears during ragtime's heyday. And The Mississippi Rag offers a copious array of ragtime and traditional-jazz links.

Color bookplates from the classic Roosevelt Bears children's stories are featured at this site. The Bears also crop up on this page of Mark Twain quotes on TR.



New England farm Thanksgiving, Harper's Weekly, 1871 *

Verus Ratio sage G. Thomas Fitzpatrick, a man who does Thanksgiving right, sets the holiday mood with an inspired post that has me reaching for the nutmeg and squash pie.


The Secret Court of 1920: Following the suicide of a sophomore, Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell convened a covert tribunal to investigate and eliminate the college's homosexual underground. Ten students were required to withdraw from the university. All documents pertaining to the affair 82 years ago were sealed – until now. The Harvard Crimson magazine section reports. (via Hub Blog)


Granite in their muscles and their brains

Some spirited defense of popery today at DartLog, the very readable blog of the Dartmouth Review. No. 1 Boston College takes on Dartmouth in hockey tonight in Hanover, where hockey tradition appears inspired by Mister Moose's rain of ping-pong-balls on Captain Kangaroo.

And before exiting today's Ivy League Corner: Bring back the Indian. Buy a sweatshirt and wage sartorial protest against campus PC.


Monday, November 25, 2002  
From the mists of time: Jesuit grid rivalries past

BC vs Holy Cross, 1921

This past weekend was rivalry weekend in college football: Harvard played Yale – can it be 20 years since MIT pranksters inflated a weather balloon at midfield? Classic Sports Network was filled with replays of great Ohio State-Michigan and USC-UCLA games from the '70s.

And there was nostalgia for the storied Jesuit football rivalry that once was the Harvard-Yale of Catholic Massachusetts, but now is just a memory – Boston College-Holy Cross.

The Holy Cross archive features several BC-HC images, including a shot of HC Heisman finalist Gordie Lockbaum in action in the series' final contest in 1986. Also included are images from the fateful 1942 game, 60 years ago Nov. 28, a stunning Holy Cross upset that kept the nationally-ranked BC team from attending a victory party at the Cocoanut Grove that night – thus saving their lives.

A "virtual exhibit" on BC football history mounted by the Burns Library at Boston College includes this program cover from the 1928 game, as well as a tribute to the 1940 team that won what Grantland Rice called "the greatest football game ever played," against another great Jesuit football rival from the misty past, Georgetown.

BC-Georgetown. Now that would be a rivalry. More on Hoya football history here.


On the topic of Georgetown

"Arrogant beetle-swarm of Jesuits," Honoré Daumier *

Here is the web page of the Georgetown Ignatian Society, which describes itself as "a lay advocacy group formed to bring Georgetown University and Holy Trinity Parish back to their Catholic and Jesuit identities." Society foundress and president Ann Sheridan also lists herself as "Mother Abbess (and, to date, sole member) of the 'Order of Divine Wrath' [not yet in receipt of episcopal approval], a special endeavor to foster greater appreciation, particularly among some Jesuits, of that much neglected Gift of the Holy Ghost, 'fear of the Lord.'" Her crest motto: I have crozier, I know how to impale. Be sure to visit the page chronicling a notorious clown Mass at Holy Trinity.


Church Crawler: A well-traveled Englishman active in the Ecclesiological Society chronicles his ongoing celebration of church architecture.


Singing for the Supper or the Sacrifice? Lucy Carroll, organist and choral director at the Carmelite Monastery, Philadelphia, writes in Adoremus Bulletin that OCP-style hymnody is chipping away at belief in the Real Presence. Also at Adoremus Bulletin: Readers ask about adding "tropes" to the Agnus Dei.


"GIA, creating your Sunday morning soundtrack for over 50 years!"

That's the slogan at the church-music publisher where Haas & Haugen are top o' the chart. Don't miss Dear Frances, the column offering practical solutions for your latest cantorial problems. (Example: "Dear Frances: I have a cantor with a breathy tone. How can I help her?" Or: "Dear Frances: I have a singer with a fluttery voice. She is always prepared and always wants to sing . . . but I can't stand to hear her. What should I do?") And follow the link to LiturgyHelp.com, your one-stop Internet resource for tips on incorporating performance art and other forms of meddlesome intrusion in the once-unchangeable Mass.


"Who commissioned this awful stuff? Why has this been tolerated all this time?"

One of Madison Avenue's leading composers appraises the pap heard in today's parishes.

The awful stuff that has passed for liturgical music in the Catholic Church for the past thirty-five years is a continuing disgrace and embarrassment. The insipid "hymns" and utterly trite musical settings of parts of the Ordinary of the Mass suddenly appeared from nowhere sometime shortly after Vatican II.

Overnight, fifteen hundred years of some of the most beautiful, inspired music in all of Western culture was thrown out and replaced by what sounds like bad 1960's folk-pop-elevator music. In fact, it's worse than that. Nothing in pop music ever sounded quite as loathsome as what is played and sung in the church today.

The magnificent and austere chant as well as Masses and other liturgical music written by a succession of history's greatest composers has largely disappeared from the Catholic Church. As Richard Morris has pointed out, the great tradition of Liturgical music flourishes today in concerts, on CDs, everywhere but in the church. How did this great art get replaced by the repugnant drivel we hear today? What happened? Who commissioned this awful stuff? Why has this been tolerated all this time? Who writes this trash? If there is to be new music, why isn't it better? This rubbish is not heard just in regional parishes in the U.S. It is worldwide. To my horror, I heard this same shameful music performed at the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome!

Try to imagine what it would be like if the rest of the Church's art were dumbed-down to this degree. Paint-on-velvet say, replacing the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Or an upturned bathtub with a plastic Virgin, spray painted blue, replacing the Bernini's. Would the clergy and faithful sit by silently and endure such an insult? Is music a less important art form in the eyes of the modern church? It would seem so.

Apparently, part of the reason for the sweeping changes of Vatican II was to make the service more accessible. It was thought that vernacular "folk masses," and other such misguided secular notions would somehow bring the parishioners closer to the service. It has not done so. How could it? Bad music is just bad music. Some of these ideas might have worked to some degree if the job of writing the music had been given to anyone capable. But that didn't happen. The congregation does not participate in singing any more than they ever did. Why would they? Who would want to sing this music?

(Via Confessions of an Accidental Choir Director)


A Double-Naught Spy Makes Good


Friday, November 22, 2002  
In Memoriam

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost

It is impossible to hear the drums and keep a dry eye. More on the late President Kennedy at CSPAN.


Cheers for Archbishop Philip Hannan

With JPII, St. Louis Cathedral, 1987

JFK's eulogist in 1963 was then-Bishop Philip Hannan, who has remained outspoken on matters of church and state. Herewith, a salute to "the Jumping Padre," chaplain to paratroopers at the Battle of the Bulge; archbishop of New Orleans from 1965-89, and at the recent bishops' conference, a singular voice of common sense:

"Now, I would like to make one point clear," Hannan said. "I have seen the results of the atomic bomb. I have seen also and had the opportunity to empty two concentration camps near the end of World War II. I would like to assure all of you that if we allow some despotic power to rule the earth, or to rule even a portion of it, we are in terrible shape, both for our religion as well as for the protection of all of our rights, particularly in the use of nuclear or atomic weapons."

From another account:

It was too much for retired Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans to take. As his younger brother bishops Tuesday moved toward telling President Bush how deeply skeptical they are of the morality of a war against Iraq, Hannan, at 89 still the peaceable fraternity's most reliable hawk, rose and argued the other side.

When the globe's only superpower "allows some despotic power to rule the earth, or parts of the earth, we're in terrible shape" morally and politically, he told an audience of about 250.

Hannan is the senior archbishop in the United States and something of a legend among his colleagues for his relative conservatism in a generally liberal group. As a seminarian in Rome in the late 1930s, he watched Hitler and Mussolini gather power, and as a paratroops chaplain saw the devastation of World War II.

Those experiences shaped his appreciation of military strength, applied early, to oppose tyranny. For that reason, decades later, he was among a tiny handful of bishops who unsuccessfully resisted publication of a Catholic bishops' document deploring the nuclear arms race as immoral.

On Tuesday, he made much the same argument, reminding the bishops that he spoke as one who had stood in the filth of two Nazi concentration camps.

After his speech, Hannan noted that Bush has gathered United Nations support for opposing Iraq. And he said the precision weapons demonstrated in Afghanistan probably would keep Iraqi civilian casualties to a minimum.

But more to the point, Hannan lumped Saddam Hussein with communists and Nazis as notorious tyrants -- and linked him with the terrorists who attacked the United States.

"You finally come down to a situation where they can enslave whomever they wish, whomever they think is against their particular code, and that's what we cannot tolerate," he said.

"They're not realistic because (they've) never seen what is the result of absolute disregard of human rights," Hannan said of the other bishops. "They've never seen it; they don't know what the hell they're talking about."

From a profile of the archbishop done in 1999, when he was 86:

“I’ve had a very fortunate life. I wanted to be a paratrooper. I was and I survived. I’ve been blown off my feet by artillery. But the Lord has been real good to me. I owe it to the Lord.”

Because of the gathering storm of World War II, no one in Archbishop Hannan’s family was allowed to attend his ordination at the North American College chapel on Dec. 8, 1939, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. He celebrated his first Mass in the Catacombs of Priscilla in front of three people.

“There was a chapel there that has the oldest fresco of the Mass being celebrated,” Archbishop Hannan said. “It dates back to the year 100.”

His four years in Rome (1936-1939) as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Washington shaped his world view. He witnessed at a chillingly close distance the evils of Nazism and fascism. His mother, who was half-German, and his brother Bill came over to visit him during the summer of 1937, and they visited Germany, where boys from the age of 8 were seen wearing military-style uniforms and “everyone was Heil-Hitlering.”

“My brother and I were registering at this hotel and in came two German Nazi officers who simply elbowed my brother away,” Archbishop Hannan said. “My brother was feisty and pushed them back. I grabbed him and said, ‘Bill, my gosh, we can’t fight the whole German army.’ The manager saw the incident, and that night he came to our room with the keys to his car and offered the car to us for our entire trip.”

A few years later, Father Hannan was the Catholic chaplain of the 82nd Airborne paratroopers who were so instrumental in winning the Battle of the Bulge. He would celebrate Mass for the troops on the lee side of a hill to better protect his soldiers from artillery fire.

“It was very impressive,” Archbishop Hannan said. “The Catholic men always insisted on kneeling in the snow to receive Communion. Never would they stand up. Of course, they had a lot of incentive (to stay low).”

But what remains one of the most significant memories as a priest occurred in 1945, when he was with the American forces who liberated a German concentration camp of women. A Polish woman, then 28, had spent six years in the camp and had become the women’s spiritual leader.

“When they were taken into the concentration camp, they had taken away all personal items, including any religious articles,” Archbishop Hannan said. “She was determined to have a rosary. They were only given one meal a day, a piece of black bread and some soup. She decided not to eat the bread. She found a string and she attached little pellets of the bread as beads. Then she found a pin and formed a cross.

“Every night after the guards were gone, she would lead everyone in saying the rosary. After she told me her story, she held up the rosary and said in German, ‘Bless it.’ I told her, ‘God has blessed this for six years.’ She said to me, ‘You’re a priest. You’re supposed to bless rosaries.’ I blessed the rosary.”

From another 1999 profile, on the occasion of his 60th jubilee, these comments on how war shaped his view of the Blessed Sacrament:

The importance of the Eucharist to Archbishop Hannan was reemphasized during the war when he served as an Army chaplain for the 504th Parachute Regiment of the 82nd Airborne.

“In the bitterest days of the Bulge Campaign with the temperature near zero, the men insisted on kneeling in the snow to receive Holy Communion,” Archbishop Hannan recalled. “Later, during the Second Vatican Council, I often thought of them as the church decided to give the faithful the option of receiving Communion in the hand, on the tongue, standing or kneeling.

“The paratroopers always used the option to kneel. Today, some priests forget or ignore that the faithful are given the option to receive Holy Communion on their tongue, in the hand, kneeling or standing.”

The Eucharist also was the focal point of those who survived a German concentration camp that Archbishop Hannan helped to liberate in 1945. In the prison camp for men near the Elbe River, “only about a third of the prisoners survived,” the archbishop recalled.

Two Belgian priests were among the prisoners, Archbishop Hannan said, one who died just before the camp was liberated the other who was barely alive.

“He was too weak to stand or walk in his dying hours,” Archbishop Hannan said. “I asked him how he survived over five years in the concentration camp. He said, ‘The Mass. We bribed a guard to give me wine. Late at night, with a few drops of wine and some bread, I always celebrated the Eucharist.’ That was his service to all the prisoners – bringing the grace from the presence of Christ in the Eucharist to all the prisoners in his priestly service. He died the night after his liberation.”


The Angel of Death

One Pennsylvania historical-society's jaw-dropping tribute to "a courageous and principled doctor."

"One evening in late January of 1969, the lead story on the Huntley-Brinkley Report was the death of Dr. Robert D. Spencer, also known as the 'Angel of Ashland.' It was reported that Spencer had performed 100,000 abortions during his medical career, which spanned over half a century, from the 1920s to that day. All this occurred in the sleepy little coal-mining town of Ashland, Pennsylvania." "Mesmerized by the news story, then college student Vincent J. Genovese, who was himself raised in Minersville, a similar mining town not more than ten miles from Ashland, began a quest to find out more about Spencer. The result is The Angel of Ashland, the biography of a courageous and principled doctor."

A link to the book plug is carried throughout the Ashland Area Historic Preservation Society's site. Surprising the society hasn't been called on this. They do offer an e-mail address for readers who might choose to.


Appalachian coal miners as Ward and June Cleaver?

Sure, why not, if it fits the template of the puff piece you're about to write on the travails of a liberal visionary overcoming the forces of reaction? Read the opening paragraph of this Boston Globe profile of Cambridge College founder Eileen Moran Brown and you'll get the idea:

Eileen Brown grew up in Ashland, Pa., a small town where the culture was conformist, the politics Republican, the religion Roman Catholic, and all three as calcified as the black coal mined from the scrubby hills of Appalachia.

Ashland, it turns out, is a coal town in the heart of Molly Maguire country, so one wonders at the blanket label of "Republican" given politics in an area of Irish-Catholic mining folk, like young Eileen Moran's family. But what matter, these small details; the point is, the place wasn't "progressive" by Cambridge standards, hence it was retrograde and conservative, and the idea simply is to apply a default shorthand term – like conformity, or Catholicism – that is accepted by right-minded Globe readers as synonymous with bone-dry stodginess. Read on.

On Eileen's first day in first grade at St. Joseph's parochial school, Sister Devota posed a challenge: ''Who is willing to die for Christ?''

Every other child raised a hand, but not Eileen Brown.

Sister Devota was aghast.

Eileen explained that, yes, she understood the question, but no, she wasn't willing to die for anybody, including Christ.

Sister Devota called Eileen's father.

''Well, of course Eileen doesn't want to die,'' he said. ''She's 5 years old. I think you ought to stop asking dumb questions, Sister, and just teach her to read and write.''

Ah, yes, the 1950s Sister Mary Elephant story, that staple of the "Recovering Catholic" armory. Can you imagine Sister asking a child something like that? How unsophisticated: The penguin instilling a simpleton's faith at the end of a ruler. Thank goodness we've moved beyond that.

Sixty years later, Eileen Brown sits in the dining room of her Cambridge home, and over a lunch of lobster salad and Diet Coke, she recalls two lessons from that day long ago.

''First, listen to your inner voice and don't pretend to be willing to die for Christ if you're not. Second, there's a price to be paid for telling the truth, because in Catholic schools, as someone unwilling to die for Christ, I was labeled rebellious, radical, and brazen.''

As it turns out, the nuns were right. Brown has been rebellious, radical, and brazen, but she is also idealistic, occasionally confrontational, and always resolute in demanding that black kids get the same chance as white kids.

That revolutionary notion led her, as a teacher in Philadelphia in the 1960s, to speak up for minority kids, to organize picket lines and sit-ins, and to threaten to disrupt the Penn Relay unless the University of Pennsylvania kept a promise to admit black kids.

And it led her, in 1971, to found what is now Cambridge College, one of Boston's more reformist institutions, and to serve as its president for the past 21 years.

So it turns out Eileen Brown does indeed have a religious zeal, but for a secular mission. She is a believer. She is applauded for having given her life radically to a cause – in this case, the advancement of the civil-rights agenda.

But the idea of giving one's life to Christ – and even for Christ – is mocked out of hand.

This story's unexamined, unquestioned biases – against "calcified" Catholics and like "conformists" – are as deeply rooted as any held by the conservative mossbacks constructed out of straw by the writer and his subject.


For the sybarite on your Christmas list.


You read a headline like this and you immediately think, English Department.

Making an observation along similar lines is Tightly Wound, whose motto is: Making fun of academics, 'cause it's easy! (Via Cranky Professor)


Here is a dime. Call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt as to your becoming a lawyer.

Erin O'Connor of the invaluable Critical Mass blog offers her take on the proposed speech code at Harvard Law.

Quote of the day: "These are people with extraordinarily thin skins who want to be treated as adults but insist that Mommy, Daddy, and the dean come to their rescue instead of debating in the market of free ideas." --Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, commenting on the Black Law Students Association's demand for a speech code that would ban--and punish--offensive speech in the classroom.


Tuesday, November 19, 2002  

The Atlantic Monthly culls its archives for an impressive presentation on the legendary editor, linguist, critic and Sage of Baltimore, H. L. Mencken.

Meantime, NRO offers a review of the new Mencken biography and a Q&A with its author.

For more on Mencken, some worthy pages:

The Mencken Society

A Mencken Cornucopia

H.L. Mencken Quotes

From the latter, a small sampling, still resonant, to delight the campus skeptic:

The essential difficulty of pedagogy lies in the impossibility of inducing a sufficiency of superior men and women to become pedagogues. Children, and especially boys, have sharp eyes for the weaknesses of the adults set over them. It is impossible to make boys take seriously the teaching of men they hold in contempt.

When the American pedagogue became a professional, and began to acquire a huge armamentarium of technic, the trade of teaching declined, for only inferior men were willing to undergo a long training in obvious balderdash.

But in English even the higher ranks of professors tend to be inferior to those of any other faculty. The papers printed in [the journals] seldom show any professional competence or contribute anything worth knowing to the subject. For the most part they consist wholly of dull pedantries--attempts to establish the dates of some forgotten poet, investigations of the stealings of one obscure author from another, elaborate statistical inquiries into weak endings, and so on and so on. The standards of professional research and writings in the United States are anything but high, but it would certainly be unusual to find any similar rubbish in a journal of chemistry, astronomy or zoology, or even in a medical journal. The men who actually know something always know the difference between something and nothing, but the professors of English seem to be largely unaware of it. ...they devote themselves ardently to irrelevant trivia about the writers of the past, many of them existing today only as flies embalmed in the amber of text-books.


If Citizen Kane were Catholic…

He might have amassed as extensive a warehouse as this firm, which bills itself as the world's largest devoted to the sale of complete interiors from churches, monasteries and castles.

It's a sad commentary that so many objects have been removed from holy places to be bought and sold, but at least the objects have been preserved. Don't know what a high altar fetches on the antique market. But if your church is looking to restore a lost sense of glory, this dealer might be a contact: It certainly would be preferable that these items be returned to active use rather than relegated to a collector's showroom.


The Battersea Townswomen's Guild + Scott Ritter + Lady Godiva = This splendidly incongruous kookiness from Johnny Walker Lindh Land.

Sure, everyone else has posted this already, but it's hard to resist the lunacy factor of Marin County women stripping to their birthday suits to demonstrate solidarity with the Iraqi people.

"Women from all ages and walks of life took off their clothes, not because they are exhibitionists but because they felt it was imperative to do so," the organizers added. "They wanted to unveil the truth about the horrors of war, to commune in their nudity with the vulnerability of Iraqi innocents, and to shock a seemingly indifferent Bush Administration into paying attention." The coordinators, who came up with the idea only a day earlier, said that the coming together of this group on short notice was a testament to the seriousness with which the women view the threat of war with Iraq.

Marshall resident Donna Sheehan, who organized the group called "Unreasonable Women" for the photo, said she’s been pondering for four years a way women can "be heard on a very deep level."

Little Green Footballs readers offer pointed response, including this inspired bit of legerdemain on the favorite mantra of mullahs and multiculturalists.


What's on at OCP?

Image via CTAC, which also presents this shot of the Church of the Holy Trinity, in Vienna, the site's "choice for worship space most perfectly reflecting the spirit of Vatican II."


Tractarian Contrarian: Patrick Rothwell offers several posts of interest to those with an appreciation for Anglo-Catholicism, including a report on an address by Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP, on ecumenical dialogue with Anglicans; a thought-provoking post warning of the impact a ban on gay priests would have on efforts to restore beauty to liturgy, and the inspiring obituary of an Anglo-Catholic churchman.


Friday, November 15, 2002  
Oh, Father Berrigan? Absolutely, Mister Sheen!

US Marines with Sandino's flag, 1932

Yes, it’s the annual Picket the School of the Americas weekend: Re-live the glories of Sandino! Indict the United States as the source of all evil in the world! Buy a tee-shirt!

Former military chaplain Bill Cork offers a useful perspective on the annual Fort Benning protests led by Rev. Roy Bourgeois.

The Rev. Bourgeois (see second item), a stalwart of the anti-American Left, is a fixture on the campus lecture circuit. His speaker's bureau also books Angela Davis and Noam Chomsky, while his fellow members of the advisory council of the Columbia Support Network include Messrs. Chomsky & Zinn, Bishop Gumbleton and the wonderfully-named Medea Benjamin, described here.

At any rate, as protesters this weekend invoke the memory of a selected few martyrs to discredit Reagan-era US foreign policy, take a moment to consider the full range of 20th-century Catholic martyrs, more than 13,000 of them, two-thirds of them from Europe and the nations of the former Soviet Empire.

Holy Cross hosts a web site on the major persecutions of Catholics in the 20th century, with sections devoted to the Mexican Revolution, the Soviet Empire, the Spanish Civil War, the Nazi Reich and Red China. Also see these pages on Jesuit victims of the Holocaust and Jesuits named among the Righteous of Nations, part of a larger site on Catholics and the Holocaust.


Mystified by the headline above playing on the names of the Bros. Berrigan and Martin Sheen? It was inspired by an old vaudeville hit.


Ferdinandus Taurus

A Common Reader offers the children's classic Ferdinand the Bull -- in Latin. (The Grinch and the Cat in the Hat, too.) Meantime, Spain's premier Catholic blogger holds forth on bullfighting.


The Onion is brilliant. Here too.


Not from The Onion: This exercise in self-parody among the red-diaper brigade. Way to brainwash the little comrades, Mom and Dad. (Via All But Dissertation)

On that note: A tribute to the late, great John Candy as Tom Tuttle from Tacoma.


Thursday, November 14, 2002  
Bracing words from the Pope

When the impious Mohammedan power, trusting in its powerful fleet and war-hardened armies, threatened the peoples of Europe with ruin and slavery, then--upon the suggestion of the Sovereign Pontiff--the protection of the heavenly Mother was fervently implored and the enemy was defeated and his ships sunk. Thus the Faithful of every age, both in public misfortune and in private need, turn in supplication to Mary, the benignant, so that she may come to their aid and grant help and remedy against sorrows of body and soul. And never was her most powerful aid hoped for in vain by those who besought it with pious and trustful prayer.

Wait. That was Pope Pius XI.

How inspiring it would be if the current Pope, so instrumental in bringing down the Iron Curtain, were to speak as forthrightly in invoking Our Lady of Victory in the defense of Christendom and God's chosen people against the forces of Islamist barbarism.

But instead, this.

Perhaps in an indirect way the Pope is offering a prescription for the defense of the West: Have more children, and pray the newly augmented Rosary. But it should be noted: Before Our Lady could intercede at Lepanto, it was necessary for Don John of Austria to launch a navy.


Meantime, at the bishops' conference:

In a bid to reassert their authority as moral guides to the nation after a year of internal crisis, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops yesterday urged President George W. Bush and other world leaders to "find the will and the ways to step back from the brink of war with Iraq."


From the Telegraph archives: Iraq's Catholics strike a bargain

In return for allowing worshippers to fill Baghdad's Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Deliverance, Saddam expects the Church to defend his regime robustly.

By extending freedom of worship to Iraq's million Christians, two thirds of whom are Catholics, he tries to guarantee their loyalty.

Judging by one of the pictures displayed on the wall of Matti Shaba Matoka, the current Catholic Archbishop of Baghdad, Saddam has succeeded. It shows a deferential archbishop shaking his leader firmly by the hand.

Archbishop Matoka confirmed that prayers were said for Saddam in all four of Baghdad's Catholic churches on the occasion of his 65th birthday last Sunday. When asked about America's policy towards Iraq, he was quick to repeat the official line.

"Americans are criminals," he said. "Their attitude to us the Iraqi people is not human. Why these sanctions? All the world asks that the sanctions be lifted. The result of this embargo is poverty and disease."

Archbishop Matoka readily defended Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, which triggered the imposition of the American-led embargo.

"Kuwait was stealing our petrol. I think Iraq was right to invade," he said.


Christians of the Middle East: Silent Victims

Joseph Kassab at Chaldeans Online writes: The still surviving ancient Christians of the Middle East have undergone a terrible experience of almost unrelieved loss and suffering since the Muslim conquest their land, then ruled, discriminated, and persecuted them. It is time for the true democracy and the rule of law to cast a ray of hope on the land of the world's best religions and great civilizations. More


The little boy died with the two pacifiers he liked to take to bed, one to suck on, one to hold.

The Globe's Jeff Jacoby on the latest Palestinian outrage and the mythical pretense of fighting Israeli "occupation":

He began by shooting Tirtza Damari, 42, who was out for a walk with her boyfriend. Then he killed Yitzhak Drori, the head of the kibbutz secretariat, who had heard the first gunshots and rushed over to help. Next he kicked in the door of the Ohayon home, where 34-year-old Revital Ohayon had been reading a bedtime story to her sons Noam, 4, and Matan, 5. He killed her first, riddling her body with bullets as she tried desperately to block the doorway to the children's bedroom. Then he fired at Noam and Matan, shooting them dead as they cowered in their beds. Matan died with the two pacifiers he liked to take to bed, one to suck on, one to hold.

For its part, the official Voice of Palestine Radio aired a report hailing the ''operation'' in Kibbutz Metzer, which it described as ''a colony north of Tulkarm,'' an Arab city on the West Bank.

But Metzer isn't a ''colony'' or a ''settlement,'' and it isn't in the West Bank. Nor is it populated by hawkish Israeli hard-liners. Founded nearly 50 years ago by left-wing immigrants from Argentina, Metzer is located inside Israel proper. It is as well known for its dovish politics as for its friendly ties with neighboring Arabs, many of whom streamed into the kibbutz on Monday to offer condolences. In recent months, Metzer residents had even lobbied against a proposed government security fence out of concern that it would cut through olive groves owned by a nearby Arab village.

It was no accident that the terrorists' statement identified Metzer as a ''settlement.'' To Fatah and the Tanzim, to Arafat and Hamas, every Jewish community in Israel is a ''settlement,'' not just those located in the territories Israel seized in self-defense during the 1967 Six Day War. When the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded in 1964, it was not in order to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, which were then occupied by Jordan and Egypt respectively. The PLO's mission, then as now, was to ''liberate'' all of Israel, expel the Jews, and replace it with a new Arab state called Palestine.

A poll on an al-Fatah Web site, www.fatehorg.org, asks visitors whether they favor ''martyrdom attacks'' - that is, terror attacks - (a) within Israel proper, (b) within the 1967 territories only, (c) within both, or (d) not at all. As of midday Wednesday, 6.9 percent of respondents had chosen (a), 12.5 percent (b), and 69.1 percent (c). Only 11.6 percent favored an end to anti-Israel terrorism altogether. (Translation courtesy of the Israel Resource News Agency.)


Wednesday, November 13, 2002  

How to classify Nancy Pelosi, the "latte liberal" Democratic congresswoman from San Francisco expected to become House minority leader? Well, if truth-in-packaging laws applied to politics, the answer would be: Socialist.

Pelosi is a member of the executive committee of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America, the largest socialist organization in the United States and the principal US affiliate of the Socialist International.

The Progressive Caucus used to have a page, complete with socialist red rose backdrop, at the DSA site, but now is hosted at the site of Vermont independent Congressman Bernie Sanders, who's at least up front about being a socialist.

A Washington Times columnist has now raised the issue of Pelosi's affiliation with the Progressive Caucus. Conservative radio-host Chuck Morse has previously sounded an alarm.

The leadership of the Progressive Caucus includes Barbara Lee (vice-chairwoman) and Cynthia McKinney, while members include Baghdad Boys Bonior & McDermott and my own congressman, Havana Jim McGovern, Cuba's champion, who it galls me to say was re-elected earlier this month without opposition. Is there no one in Central Massachusetts capable of giving Worcester's Fidelista a race?

It can be hard to tell the Socialists without a scorecard. For aid in distinguishing between the Judean People's Front and the People's Front of Judea (or the non-Python equivalents thereof), consult this useful, though soon to be discontinued, online Red Encyclopedia.


Kneeling at Mass is the topic of a lively thread at Free Republic that includes a look at the wreckovating handiwork of Richard Vosko.


Not in Our Nom de Plume: Kairos Guy's submission to the Not in Our Name petition, "Tuttle Jonathan S. US Army, Capt., 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital," was subsequently cited by Best of the Web (14th item). Well done! "Some days I just can't help but undermine things I find asinine," he writes in a Nov. 8 post.

On a more serious note, be sure to read his thoughtful two-part post on the issue of "choice."


Tuesday, November 12, 2002  
Speaking of true-blue Toryism:

Who at the networks decided on the color scheme of red & blue states that had the Republican states red and the Democratic states blue? That's backwards. Note this etymology of the term "true blue":

It meant: 'faithful, staunch and unwavering in one's faith, principles, etc.; genuine, real' (OED). Thus, in 1663, Butler writes in Hudibras: 'For his Religion it was fit To match his Learning and his Wit; 'Twas Presbyterian true Blew'. The phrase was subsequently taken up by various political parties in England before it became the distinctive term for the Conservative party and meant 'staunchly Tory'. Hence Trollope in Framley Parsonage (1860): 'There was no portion of the county more decidedly true blue'. And this is one of the two senses it still has in England - `true blue adjective extremely loyal or orthodox; Conservative; noun such a person, especially a Conservative' (The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, 1995). *

In America, the term "true blue" has come to mean politically sound. The color red, meantime, has other, readily apparent, political connotations.

The map of the American heartland – flyover country, Bush country in the 2000 election – should be colored true blue.


Or at least Alice Blue

Recall, it was the daughter of one of the two greatest Republican presidents for whom the shade was named. And any excuse is worthwhile to recall Alice Roosevelt Longworth, who had her personal motto embroidered on a sofa pillow: "If you haven't got anything good to say about anybody, come sit next to me.''

Katharine Graham recalled her mother, Agnes Meyer, as "always ambivalent about Mrs. Longworth," despairing at her "brilliant but sterile mind."

"After one party they both attended early in 1920, my mother described Alice as having been in a very carnal sort of mood," Graham wrote. "She ate three chops, told shady stories and finally sang in a deep bass voice: Nobody cultivates me, I'm wild, I'm wild."

By the standards of Washington early in the 20th century, Alice Roosevelt had been wild indeed. Her father, the president, said famously that he could manage the government or manage Alice -- but couldn't possibly do both at once.

Attracting enormous publicity, she smoked, drove her own car, plunged fully clothed into a swimming pool, placed a bet at a race track, was seen in public wearing a boa constrictor around her neck, set off firecrackers and shot at telegraph poles from a train; she was universally dubbed "Princess Alice" after she christened the yacht of Kaiser Wilhelm's brother.


Hmm. Both houses of Congress. Stratospheric approval ratings. UN backing on Iraq.

Not bad for a Smirk Boy.

Wonder what these Gore in 2004 items are fetching on the remainder table?


Monday, November 11, 2002  
Armistice Day

Allies Day, May 1917, Childe Hassam

From the Silence of Time, Time’s Silence borrow.
In the heart of To-day is the word of To-morrow.
The Builders of Joy are the Children of Sorrow.

William Sharp (1856-1902)

This verse and others are to be found at a page of poetry EL Core has assembled to commemorate Veterans Day.

Trenches on the Web is a useful place to start for an Internet history of the Great War, as is the Great War Society.

Photos from the Great War can be found here, and posters here. They don't make posters like this one anymore.

Wild Geese Today offers a salute to Ireland's Tommies, while the Fighting 69th and Father Duffy are recalled in photos here, and by General Douglas MacArthur here. Last, some parting words from a fallen poet of the 69th:

Prayer of a Soldier in France

My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).

Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.

(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?)

My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
Than all the hosts of land and sea.

So let me render back again
This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.

Joyce Kilmer


A letter to the ombudsman of the Boston Globe

Dear Ms. Chinlund,

So engrossed was I in reading the Globe's compelling new Ideas section this past Sunday that I strayed into territory normally avoided for reasons of blood pressure.

I refer to the Letters to the Editor section. On Sunday, less than a week after voters gave the president's party both houses of Congress, the governor's office in Massachusetts, and a 53-47 edge in balloting nationwide, the section featured one letter indicting American military policy as terrorist; another attacking Republicans as war-mongering polluters and plutocrats; and another heaping ad hominems on George W. Bush as a drunk-driving draft-evader guilty of physical cowardice on Sept. 11.

A fourth simply offered internecine criticism of state and national Democratic Party leadership for last week's election losses.

That's out of five letters. My question:

Are the majority of letters the Globe receives penned by anti-war activists; sundry Greens, Quakers and Unitarians; and commissars of the Revolutionary Workers Party? Or only the majority of letters the Globe chooses to run?

Sunday's sampling was indicative of a trend in the Letters section, which seems to serve as a scrappy radical auxiliary to the left-liberal sounding boards of the Editorial and Op-Ed Pages, but with the varnish off. The letters that predominate clearly don't represent the mainstream of public opinion, and I can't imagine they reflect the mainstream of Globe readership.

The tone of the section made its most distinct mark on me in the immediate aftermath of 9.11, when a significant percentage of the letters run were either of the America-had-it-coming variety or the America-please-don't-retaliate school.

I have largely avoided the Letters to the Editor section – and the Editorial and Op-Ed pages in general – ever since. But I ask: Is an effort made in the Letters section to reflect a range of opinion – or only that range of opinion found in an Amherst coffeehouse?

Such a contrast is offered by the new Ideas section: It's sharp, thought-provoking and unpredictable, evocative of the Arts & Letters Daily website, and unsurprisingly, of the old Lingua Franca journal its editor once ran. Each Sunday it has featured articles that provoke debate or discussion and are worth revisiting: Yesterday's engrossing article on the legacy of William Dean Howells comes to mind, as do past articles on Pat Buchanan and the isolationist tradition, and the mythology surrounding the Irish famine.

Would it be too much to ask for the Globe Op-Ed pages, at least, to offer similarly engaging fare, to appeal to thoughtful readers across the political spectrum and not just on the knee-jerk Left? The cranks who have been given the Letters section for use as a private Hyde Park soapbox might not applaud, but I suspect most readers would.

Mark C. N. Sullivan


Which Founding Father are you?

"It's a common affliction; I think most Catlicker bloggers are Adams types," writes fellow Braintree squire TS O'Rama. (Via Vita Brevis)


Thursday, November 07, 2002  

Years from Now, They'll Call It "Payback Tuesday:" Michael Moore, remarkably prescient, 11.3.02.

Dear Friends,

Well, folks, Tuesday is the day! The day that George W. gets taught a long overdue lesson. The day that we, the MAJORITY -- the 52% who never elected him -- get our chance to reclaim a bit of our former democracy (back when ALL the votes used to be counted).

What if, on Tuesday, all of us, regardless of our political stripe, and just for the fun of it, decided to serve one big-ass eviction notice that said, you have two years to remove yourself from the premises-and you had better not damage anything on your way out?

I think we can give Bush the Mother of all Shellackings on Tuesday…

Meantime, at the Doonesbury site, visiting Garry Trudeau fans apparently would prefer to pretend this week's nationwide GOP sweep never happened. The most popular response to a straw poll on the meaning of the election: "Voting is a many-faceted mystery. I feel no irresistible urge to define the Big Picture when the victory margins are so slim. A GOP win here, a Dem win there -- this is hardly a defining moment. Carry on."

Barbra Streisand has yet to issue a statement.


Remember Jeezum Jim Jeffords? James Taranto at Opinion Journal does, and ponders the cost to the Yankee sell-out "voice of conscience" for 15 minutes of fame – now ended. Also answered: What politician has now lost an election in every single state of the Union?

At NRO, Dinesh D'Souza offers a Jonathan Swiftian prescription for renewed Democratic health:

Many on the political Left are blaming the leadership of the Democratic party for moving to the center, accommodating President Bush's agenda, and thus producing the catastrophic losses of Tuesday's election. "Let us stop playing Republican wannabe," these leftists say, "and start standing up for something."

These critics are right. The Democrats could improve their political fortunes by unequivocally embracing the three central principles of the political Left: anti-Americanism, economic piracy, and moral degeneracy.

Indeed the Democrats could become the Party of the Seven Deadly Sins. The political advantage of this approach is that the Seven Deadly Sins are immensely popular. Imagine the political opportunities if
all vices were associated with the Democratic party!


Wednesday, November 06, 2002  
For the Left, a resounding electoral thwack

Certainly had enough steam yesterday

Random thoughts the day after:

Had there been no clerical abuse scandal in Massachusetts, it is unlikely Mitt Romney would have been elected governor. Mormonism remains foreign to the culture of the Bay State, but Catholics are no longer in a position to be judgmental.

Tim Russert deserves an Unsung Hero award for his role in turning the gubernatorial election in Massachusetts. His sharp interrogation of the candidates, particularly on the question of age of consent for an abortion, drove the Herald debate last week that sank Shannon O'Brien.

Emily's List, which backs Democratic women candidates who favor abortion rights, is a good indicator of who not to support in a given race. They can't be pleased with the results on the tote board today. The record of their endorsees in races spotlighted on their main page: Senate, 0-for-3; House, 2-for-9; Governor, 3-for-9.

Boston journalist-blogger Jay Fitzgerald at Hub Blog has been providing fine reporting on the election in Massachusetts. Meantime, some of the best – and only – regular coverage of the Bay State Republican Party has come from a local gadfly with a web site at NewtonGOP.com.

Also from Massachusetts: Election coverage from the Globe and from the Herald, including reflections on the unbecoming Shannon O'Brien by Howie Carr.

Nationally: Andrew Sullivan offers outstanding analysis today, as do the Weekly Standard and NRO. Also worth visiting: The New Republic and the Washington Post.

UPDATE: The dominoes start to fall.

EL Core notes the grave state of Peter Jennings' kisser as the returns poured in, and also asks the question: Which party elected two black lieutenant-governors last night? Hint: It wasn't the Democrats.

Meantime, visit Democrats.com and see the best they can do today. Hmmm. Too Stupid to be President doesn't appear to have been updated either. (The angel-winged Bobby Kennedy appears to be announcing a car for the late Sen. Wellstone. Limousine liberalism, even in heaven?)


Tuesday, November 05, 2002  
Vote Today

C-Span is providing election-night coverage, while running commentary from the right can be found at TownHall.com and The Corner and The Weekly Standard.


Oh, the pain: Dr. Smith, RIP.


GK in the Globe: Columnist Alex Beam offers a plug for Chesterton and the magazine Gilbert!


Et c*m spiritu tuo: At Catholic Light, an account of liturgical Latin in e-mail blocked by an anti-porn filter. For a sense of the problem, note this Google search on the offending phrase, and the paid "sponsoring link" generated on the right. (The same disconnect between subject matter and sponsoring link appears in a Google search on a common graduation honor.)

Circumstances like these call for innovation. At Fenway Park, a bleacher tradition begun with Roger Clemens and continued with Pedro Martinez is to hang a 'K' for each strikeout. What to do at three strikeouts? How to avoid any mistaken impression that a white-sheeted Klavern has gathered in deep center? At No. 3, a backward 'K' is hung.


Sanctus bells: An interesting exchange in the Letters section of Adoremus Bulletin on the ringing of bells at the Consecration.

The editors comment: Most people who take pains to emphasize the "seamlessness" of the Eucharistic Prayer do not believe that the miraculous transformation takes place at the moment that the words of Consecration are spoken by the priest. In their opinion, it is not this action of the priest, but the participation of the entire congregation that effects "Eucharist"…

The effect of this tinkering is to de-sacralize the Mass. It reflects a desire to tame the supernatural, to collapse the transcendent into our own time, and to "domesticate" God by making Him a partner in our cause.

Elsewhere, the pastor of the beautiful St. Sebastian's Church in Middletown, Conn., rings the bell of a diocesan liturgist on the topic. (PDF)

Here's a Lutheran's take on altar bells, and a modern liturgist's. Interestingly, the Protestant in this case appreciates them more.


You've heard of the UnCola? Well, this is the un-sanctuary. And here is an interview with the guiding light behind this liturgical black hole. All I can say is, some kind of penance must be involved in writing for the LA archdiocesan house organ, especially these days.


Monday, November 04, 2002  
Election Eve

Corner of Washington & Pleasant, Marblehead, Mass.

Marblehead at the Millennium offers a portrait of daily life in a New England town – and of what we uphold when we go to the polls.

Chesterton writes in Orthodoxy:

I have never been able to understand where people got the idea that democracy was in some way opposed to tradition. It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. The man who quotes some German historian against the tradition of the Catholic Church, for instance, is strictly appealing to aristocracy. He is appealing to the superiority of one expert against the awful authority of a mob. It is quite easy to see why a legend is treated, and ought to be treated, more respectfully than a book of history. The legend is generally made by the majority of people in the village, who are sane. The book is generally written by the one man in the village who is mad. Those who urge against tradition that men in the past were ignorant may go and urge it at the Carlton Club, along with the statement that voters in the slums are ignorant. It will not do for us. If we attach great importance to the opinion of ordinary men in great unanimity when we are dealing with daily matters, there is no reason why we should disregard it when we are dealing with history or fable. Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father. I, at any rate, cannot separate the two ideas of democracy and tradition; it seems evident to me that they are the same idea. We will have the dead at our councils. The ancient Greeks voted by stones; these shall vote by tombstones. It is all quite regular and official, for most tombstones, like most ballot papers, are marked with a cross.

I have first to say, therefore, that if I have had a bias, it was always a bias in favour of democracy, and therefore of tradition. Before we come to any theoretic or logical beginnings I am content to allow for that personal equation; I have always been more inclined to believe the ruck of hard-working people than to believe that special and troublesome literary class to which I belong. I prefer even the fancies and prejudices of the people who see life from the inside to the clearest demonstrations of the people who see life from the outside. I would always trust the old wives' fables against the old maids' facts. As long as wit is mother wit it can be as wild as it pleases.


Offering valuable perspective on "choice" is this article in Time.

The list is short, but there are a few Democrats for Life up for election.

Former Democrat William Bennett reflects on the sad decline of a once-great party.


Friday, November 01, 2002  
The Holy Incorruptibles

Body of St. Bernadette. More photos here.

Inside a side chapel at the cathedral of San Frediano in Lucca, Italy, bouquets of lilies and orchids perfume the air with the sweet fragrance of sanctity. A respectful hush descends over the curious and faithful alike as they gaze up at a reliquary of gold and glass. Lying on a bed of brocade is one of Roman Catholics' most beloved icons, Saint Zita. Born in 1218 in the village of Monte Sagrati, Zita led a life of singular virtue. Raised in abject poverty, she was sent out to work as a child in the home of a wealthy merchant in nearby Lucca, where her kindnesses were legion. She gave up her bed to homeless women and dispensed her own meals to the poor. When she died at around the age of 60, her body was laid to rest in a burial vault in San Frediano. Memories of her holiness remained vivid, however, and people pressed the Church to declare her a saint. When ecclesiastical officials exhumed the humble servant nearly 300 years after her death, one of the miraculous signs of sainthood was immediately apparent: Zita was whole and intact, her body resistant to the decay reserved for ordinary humans. And so she has remained through another 400 and more years. Crowned with a ring of dried pink roses and wearing a gown of soft green velvet, she lies on her bier virtually untouched by time. Her gaunt face is dark but smooth. Her hands are soft and supple looking. Her lustrous nails gleam.

Saint Zita is one of the Incorruptibles -- the name given by medieval Catholic clergy to the astonishingly preserved bodies of saints, martyrs, and
beati, the blesseds on the road to canonization…100 or so Incorruptibles…are known to exist… From "The Incorruptibles," by Heather Pringle, originally published in Discover, June 2001 (scroll down for text).

For more on the phenomenon of incorruptible bodies of saints, see "Saints Preserve Us," a fascinating article in Fortean Times. (That would appear to be the head of St. Catherine of Siena preserved in the ornate reliquary.)

An excerpt: Because there have been many impeccable accounts of incorruptibility, many presumed saints were exhumed and re-interred. It soon became the custom to exhume all candidates for beatification or canonisation. Throughout the Middle Ages, churches vied for possession of incorrupt bodies, as they were a proven magnet for pilgrims (who, of course, brought offerings and donations). Despite its damp climate, mediæval Britain has nurtured a good number of saintly characters whose bodies didn’t decay, including Cuthbert, Werburgh, Waltheof and Guthlac. Amongst them were two royal sisters (Etheldreda and Withburga), a king (Edward the Confessor), a bishop (Hugh of Lincoln) and an archbishop of Canterbury (Alphege). At the Reformation, all their shrines were destroyed and the incorrupt body parts dispersed. When her shrine at Ely Cathedral was destroyed, the saintly Queen Etheldreda’s hand was preserved by a devout Catholic family. The still incorrupt hand was enshrined, some 400 years later, when a little Catholic Church was re-established in Ely. An apocryphal story relates how the present Queen, on a tour of the cathedral, met the crusty Irish priest of the little Catholic Church. She asked him if it wouldn’t be a ‘nice gesture’ to return the hand of St Etheldreda to the cathedral; he replied that it would be a nice gesture for her to return the cathedral to the Catholic church.

See also this site devoted to images of the incorrupt bodies of saints. (Includes music, so you may wish to hit mute before visiting).


"To those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. To those who believe, no explanation is necessary."

In keeping with the day's theme: The film Song of Bernadette can't be recommended enough, for viewing this All Saints Day, or any day. A recent posting at Catholic Light was reminiscent of the scene in the film in which the young man Bernadette would have married bids her farewell on her way to the convent. Other powerful scenes: When the older nun who has been persecuting her realizes the extent of Bernadette's suffering, and when Vincent Price's cynical skeptic, terminally ill, appeals to the Blessed Virgin for solace. Jennifer Jones deservedly won the Oscar for Best Actress. The movie is available here.


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