Formerly Ad Orientem

"Irish Elk is original, entertaining, eclectic, odd, truly one-of-a-kind. And more than mostly interesting."
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Under the patronage of St. Tammany



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

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

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Irish Elk
Monday, July 22, 2002  
In Mexican churches, art for the greater glory of God

Dome and Retablo, Domestic Chapel, Temple, Tepotzotlan, Mexico. Photo by Carolyn Brown.

It sometimes seems the liturgical domos most keen on incorporating campesino guitars and other Latin American folk trappings at Mass also are the ones eager to remodel churches into modernist worship spaces deemed more suitable to the assembly and the spirit of Vatican II.

Yet just look at the glorious flourishes in these Mexican churches photographed by Carolyn Brown. Why don't the North American liturgical champions of the folk guitar also call for ornate altars such as these, which reflect the tastes – and speak to the hearts – of the faithful who pray before them?


A Pilgrimage

A handful of red clay scooped from the warning track along the Green Monster resides in my back pocket as I type this post. The Red Sox ownership opened Fenway Park to the fans today as part of a tribute to the late Ted Williams, who will be commemorated in a ceremony at the ballpark tonight. How many chances do you get to actually walk around on the field at Fenway Park? On my lunch hour I snuck off to Kenmore Square and joined the thousands, young and old, who turned out to stroll the Fenway greensward. The outfield was turned into a shrine to the late No. 9, with historic pictures and his Hall of Fame plaque hung on the green walls, and parents pushing babies in strollers posing for photos with Marine honor guards. Visitors jostled to touch the scoreboard, to take a seat in the third-base dugout, to perch for snaps atop the bullpen fence, to crane their necks and peer to the top of the Green Monster. It was like being allowed inside the sanctuary of a baseball cathedral, and it was magnificent.

Sox play to clinch the American League pennant, September 1967.


Bad Art for the People

Take a breather from the debate over Thomas Kinkade by making an online visit to the Museum of Bad Art, dedicated to "the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms and in all its glory."

The pieces in the MOBA collection range from the work of talented artists that have gone awry, to works of exuberant, although crude, execution by artists barely in control of the brush. What they all have in common is a special quality that sets them apart in one way or another from the merely incompetent.


Much good stuff at Goliard Blog: Thos Kinkade, granola conservatives and more. Worth a visit.


Mark Cameron is back: With an account of Rev. Raymond de Souza's ordination, and thoughts on "granola conservatives," globalization, gay marriages, Humanae Vitae &c.


Friday, July 19, 2002  
In Defense of Thos Kinkade: Joshua Claybourn, aficionado of the "Painter of Light," writes.


Green Conservatism

If painting and sculptures are made for the purpose of being viewed in the carefully studied surroundings of art galleries, they have certainly lost their intimate connection with life. What is a picture for, if not to put on one's own wall?...The proposition is as absurd as this: Should we eat our meals regularly from crude, thick dishes like those used in Greek restaurants, but go on solemn occasions to a restaurant museum where somebody's munificence would permit us to enjoy a meal on china of the most delicate design? The truly artistic life is surely that in which the aesthetic experience is not curtained off but is mixed up with all sorts of instruments and occupations pertaining to the round of daily life. Donald Davidson, "A Mirror for Artists," I'll Take My Stand

The similarities have been noted between Jeffersonian agrarianism and Chesterbelloc distributism. Indeed, some Chestertonian champions of the "small is beautiful" school would seem to find a natural home in the Green Party, had that group not been hijacked by the anarcho-woolyheads of the anti-globalist Left. Rod Dreher's much-remarked-upon recent piece on Birkenstocked Burkeans has brought new attention to the common ground uniting counterculturalists on left and right.

For more on the agrarian tradition, read excerpts from I'll Take My Stand at the site of the Agrarian Foundation, and sample some of Chesterton's writings on distributism. And here, read Green praise for Burke's "little platoons" of society.


How Conservative Are You? I scored a 32 on this quiz, putting me just to the right of Jack Kemp and just to the left of Bob Dole. Somewhere, my Democratic ancestors spin in their graves.


Protect Your Children. Here's How: Valuable tips from Gregory Popcak at Heart, Mind and Strength.


Wednesday, July 17, 2002  
Suum Cuique

The Latin phrase meaning "to each his own," brought to mind by a discussion elsewhere of the relative merit of the art of Thomas Kinkade, serves as the motto behind the bar of a venerable Boston institution, Jacob Wirth Restaurant in the Theater District.

The historian Samuel Eliot Morison used to lunch there as a boy after Mass at the Anglo-Catholic Church of the Advent on Beacon Hill. The Hall of Fame plaques on the wall honoring great Red Sox players stop somewhere around Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove. German sausage and house dark highlight the menu at Jake Wirth's, which still appears much as it did in the 19th century.

Definitely Ad O's idea of a restaurant.

John Maihos offers a review of the restaurant and its history at About.com. Here's a Tufts site offering a tribute to Jake Wirth's in German. And here's the recipe for their sauerbraten.


Where's Tammy Faye?

Were I assembling an online gallery celebrating the 20th anniversary of EWTN, I might not choose this picture.

This one's pretty good, though. Find the Pope in the pizza?


We Are the World? The latest from Up With People?

Nope, it's the World Youth Day 2002 theme song from – you guessed it! – Oregon Catholic Press.

Now, with the click of a mouse, experience the treacle of OCP without waiting for Sunday Mass at your local parish, via the wonder of OCP Publications Radio. (Warning: Proceed at own risk. May be harmful to members of the Schultz family and others with low tolerance for musical smarm. Do not attempt to operate thuribles after listening.)


Friday, July 12, 2002  

July 14 is the anniversary of the Oxford Movement. Visit Dave Armstrong's site for a Cardinal Newman cornucopia.



"Ted Williams is who John Wayne wanted to be when he grew up:" Geoffrey Norman and Michael Long on the man called "The Kid."


Terror apologist may soon head Church of England: Dr. Williams is often described here as something of a saint, Rev. Peter Mullen, chaplain to the London Stock Exchange, writes. In fact, he is an old-fashioned class warrior, a typical bien-pensant despiser of Western capitalism and the way of life that goes with it. Perhaps this would not matter much in ordinary times, but when the future of Western civilization itself is under threat, such posturing is suicidal. What havoc this man might wreak from the throne of Canterbury.


Birkenstocked Burkeans: National Review's Rod Dreher offers the confessions of a granola conservative.


Thursday, July 11, 2002  
A tribute to the Ambrosian Rite

on the occasion of the retirement of Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini, SJ, and the appointment of Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi as his successor in Milan. According to Dappled Things, Cardinal Tettamanzi has been mentioned as papabile. Hope for a wider use of such ancient and beautiful forms of liturgy as the Milanese?


Marty Haugen Unplugged

Raise high the earthenware chalices as you join in these standards by Marty Haugen, the Cole Porter of the Kumbaya set.

"One Ohana" and "Creation" from Tales of Wonder: A Musical Storytelling

"All You Works of God" from How Can I Keep From Singing?

"Canticle of the Sun" and "We Walk by Faith" from Anthology, Volume I: 1980-84

It is worth noting that the Amazon customer reviews for these albums all run to five stars. To paraphrase Miss Jean Brodie: For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like.

Open to debate, of course, is Brother Haugen's suggestion that the Holy Spirit was somnolent in the Mass in the 400 years between the Council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council (thanks to Catholic Light for the link). Leaving aside all the saints formed in the four centuries of the Old Mass, this is like saying Palestrina and Mozart were pikers, but oh, those Cowsills!


Papist paraplui

For you liturgical umbrella-bearers loyal to the Magisterium, look no further than this official John Paul II golf umbrella, in papal colors, natch. Think of it as a mini-baldacchino.

Many thanks to Saintly Salmagundi and Widening Gyre for their kind words. When it rains it pours!


Wednesday, July 10, 2002  
Why the Atlantic Monthly is nonpareil

What other publication would devote such treatment to "The Owl and the Pussy-cat" by Edward Lear?


Tuesday, July 09, 2002  
Now I'm the Grandest Tiger in the Jungle!

Gathering and Greeting Procession, with umbrella-bearers, St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, San Francisco

For a look at what happens when liturgists take over, visit the web site of San Francisco's St. Gregory of Nyssa Church, home of the Dancing Saints Icon, which appears to have drawn some inspiration from Sixties underground cartoonist R. Crumb.

By all means, experience the liturgy slideshow. Tinkling bells from Tibet! Umbrella-bearers garbed like Ottoman eunuchs! And the Tripudium! O, the Tripudium!

A deacon introduces the tripudium dance step -- Three steps forward, one back. The Presider and Deacons lead the congregation, as we each put a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us, and sing one of the hymns on the insert in the music book. We process to the Altar Table for the Eucharist.

[A] deacon with incense leads a procession of children bearing the gifts of bread and wine from the kitchen, and sets these on the table, sometimes together with their paintings or cut-outs of the day's scripture readings. The two processions join in concentric lines, circling the table to the rhythm of sistrums, thurible bells, drums, and processional cross staves striking the floor.

All this whirring about with Indian umbrellas brings to mind a particular children's classic by Helen Bannerman, a comparison unlikely to have been the boho liturgists' intent.


Ecumenism in the service of the insipid

At Catholic Light comes word that Schultz Bros. bete noire Marty Haugen, a composer of liturgical music notable for its banality and corresponding widespread popularity in Catholic parishes, is not even Catholic – he's a Congregationalist.

Now, as a native New Englander, I yield to no one in the admiration of historic white-steepled Congregational meeting-houses. But what else besides Puritans and churches on town commons comes to mind at the mention of Congregationalism?

Austerity in church design. A focus on the assembly. And today, an emphasis on dogmatic leftism.

Sound familiar? Is it any wonder his work has become a staple of Catholic liturgical planners and diocesan worship nabobs?


Monday, July 08, 2002  
Cast your vote on Milwaukee Cathedral renovation: This Milwaukee newspaper article on the Weakland cathedral renovation is dated, but the reader poll accompanying it still works. For fun, cast your vote on the project. "Thumbs-down" has pulled into the lead.


Changes in the Sanctuary: St. Joseph's, Elm Grove, Brighton, UK, before and after renovation. From the Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi site.


UN relief agency nourishes terrorism: BEACH CAMP, Gaza Strip - The tall, whitewashed wall that surrounds the food distribution center of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency here is decorated with murals of exploding Israeli boats and burning jeeps...Inside the distribution center, from which vast quantities of flour, rice, oil, and sardines are distributed to Palestinian refugees by the United Nations agency, unemployed men complain that the food aid does not go to those who need it most because the agency is corrupt - though not as corrupt, they quickly add, as the Palestinian Authority. At the UN agency's Beach Elementary Boys School nearby, custodians have just finished stripping a year's layer of posters glorifying suicide bombers from the classroom. Exploding grenades, flaming machine guns, and the slogans of Hamas and Islamic Jihad festoon the outer walls. The UN agency's teachers, a custodian says, do not dare stop children from putting up the graffiti and posters. Israelis and their American supporters cite such holy war images in and around the schools as evidence that the UN agency bears major responsibility for allowing the Palestinian camps to become strongholds of terrorism...


Petition in Support of Israel: Signers of this brief yet eloquent statement include Saul Bellow, David Mamet, Martin Peretz, Norman Podhoretz, Chaim Potok, Elie Wiesel, Leon Wieseltier and other prominent writers and academics. Click here to add your name.


Hub Bids Kid Adieu

Ted Williams, 1918-2002


Beauty Will Save the World

Stratford Caldecott, director of the Center for Faith & Culture in Oxford, makes the case in an essay featured at TCR News.

Reader Maureen Mullarkey, an artist, responds:

I followed the link from your posting to Second Spring and the article by its editor.

It left me uneasy...It makes a bit of a jumble of aesthetics and morality [for lack of a better word at the moment]. Little clarity about the distinctions between them. The muddle is owed, in part, to the fact that he is writing for the choir. Outside of that shared culture--which takes assent for granted on a host of premises and assertions---the article is something of a dog's breakfast. He mixes Beauty with beauty. It doesn't take a Platonist to recognize the lumps in that pudding.

Mary may, indeed, be the heart of creation, a shining Temple. But why is it that images of her tend to be so treacley, so insipid, repetitious and dull? The beauty of the message does not necessarily translate into beautiful imagery. [I am thinking of the weakness of Gaugin's crucifixion against the quite powerful one by Beckmann. G. was a believer; B. was not.]

Stories of Nazi commandants reading Rilke or contemplating Mozart have been told ad nauseam. A highly developed love of beauty extended to an appreciation of the design efficiency of the gas chambers and Zyklon B gas. What are the ethical connections between the perfection of the work [the thing of beauty] and the perfection of human life. Where do they reside?

The essay doesn't say...

In that same issue of Second Spring is a quite wonderful essay "There is No Such Thing as Ordinary Time" by a Fr. Randolph. I wince every time I see the term "ordinary time" in our disposable missals. So does Francis Randolph, God bless him.


Sunday, June 30, 2002  
When Father Bradford Goes Away: Father Joseph F. Wilson, in a 2001 essay, describes the joy of offering Mass in the Anglican-use Catholic Rite.


[Re]Turn to the East? A young priest asks if it is time to consider a change in practice. From Adoremus Bulletin, November 1999.


Austrophilia rampant at Widening Gyre

Joseph De Feo waxes nostalgic for the Hapsburgs on the anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.


Friday, June 28, 2002  
Teach the children well

A photograph of a toddler dressed as a suicide bomber the Israeli army says was discovered in a Palestinian militant's house in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Ordinary Palestinians said if the photograph were genuine it was likely the child had been dressed up for fun...Children have been seen dressed up as suicide bombers at school ceremonies and rallies supporting militants spearheading a 21-month-old uprising against Israeli occupation.

Perhaps wallet-sized snaps could be given out to the Episcopal bishops.


Thursday, June 27, 2002  
Not-So-Innocents Abroad

Well, the latest edition of the Episcopal Times is out, and is devoted to accounts of Massachusetts Bishop Shaw's mission to "Israel/Palestine" with a delegation of earnest Episcopalians to "witness for peace" – or more accurately, to propagandize for the Palestinian cause. (The edition isn't yet online, but you can get the flavor from this column by Bishop Shaw before his trip, or from the sentiments expressed by fellow travelers in the World Council of Churches.)

There is talk and more talk of the "cycle of violence," but the default premise throughout is that fault lies with the Israelis. The clergymen speak in terms of moral equivalence, but they've clearly chosen a side. And it's not the side of right.

Midwest Conservative Journal gives the Episcopal peace-and-justice missionaries a thorough debunking.

These Christian bishops who front for Islamofascists can't be as naïve as they seem. They are more than mere innocents and apologists and dupes. They are today's Quislings.

Why does the Left support the Palestinians? Columnist Dennis Prager nails the answer in this brilliant column. (Via Lane Core)

In general, the left does not care about women, independent judiciaries, minorities, democracy, gays or almost anything else for which it marches. That is why the left opposed America's war in Afghanistan, which liberated women from being treated like animals.

Nearly all the causes the left speaks for are noble-sounding covers for its real agenda -- the overthrowing of Western, especially Judeo-Christian and capitalist, values. Remember the chant at Stanford, "Hey, hey, ho ho, Western civ has got to go"? That is what animates the left.

In psychoanalytic terms, it is antagonism to one's father and his values. In a commencement speech he gave this year, the former president of Dartmouth College, James O. Freedman, a man of the left, said that the purpose of a college education is "to question your father's values." Those of us not on the left believe that the purpose of a college education is to discover what is true and what is good.



Rembert's Friends

A group calling itself Friends for Weakland has formed to support the archbishop's "search for peace and forgiveness" by providing "a means for his supporters to contribute financially toward his stated goal to repay the Archdiocese of Milwaukee." The group aims to raise "at least the calculated balance owed of $252,000."

No mention is made on the group's site of restoring the $5 million or so Archbishop Weakland spent to visit this upon the Milwaukee cathedral.

Father Robert Johansen offers first-hand perspective on Weakland-land and the challenges to be faced in restoring the archdiocese.

Meantime, this archived Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on the Milwaukee cathedral's "glorious" renovation is accompanied by an online poll that asks whether you like the renovation or not. Cast your vote!


Wednesday, June 26, 2002  

Our Lady of Victories Church reflected, Isabella Street, Boston


Here's to the North American College

The appointment of Bishop Timothy Dolan, former rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, as archbishop of Milwaukee has been widely praised. "Serious yet sociable, scholarly yet jolly, natural leader arrives," runs the headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Larger than life," is how his former student, Fr. Jim Tucker, describes Monsignor Dolan:

He was perfectly comfortable slapping the backs of visiting cardinals and wining and dining the steady stream of big-wigs who came to visit, but the blue-collar man from Missouri was always just below the surface. His job as rector of the American College required diplomacy and carefully measured gestures, but his personal style was always to the point, concrete, and often quite blunt. His thoughtfulness and care for details impressed me, and he had a way of remembering the most obscure facts about people.

Monsignor Dolan was a complete character, and so he was a natural target when seminarians did skits imitating the faculty or when a guy wanted to try his hand at impersonation. There was Dolan pacing the halls, a cigar in one hand and his rosary in the other. There was Dolan hammering home the points of his rector's conferences, mopping the copious sweat from his ruddy face, his abundant belly straining against the purple buttons of his soutane. There was Dolan in his sweatsuit on a Sunday morning, scrounging around the corridor kitchens for any fresh pancakes or leftover cornetti. There was Dolan rallying the troops in his superb preaching style, "
Duc in altum! Set out into the deep, as the Lord told His first priests. Our hearts are His, gentlemen, and His alone: if you can't give yourself completely over to the service of the Lord, well, this isn't the kind of life for you, and it's probably time for you to take a trip to the trunk room."

This is great copy. And when you consider the North American College under the watch of this great colorful character produced such talents as Father Tucker and fellow talented wordsmith Father Bryce Sibley, you have reason to marvel – and hope.

Seminarians, North American College, Rome, 1912


From the Los Angeles Times of June 26, the latest on the new cathedral and the old, briefly excerpted here for those who balk at the newspaper's bothersome online registration.

Star-Crossed Cathedral;
Controversy has surrounded Our Lady of the Angels, and its scheduled opening threatens to increase the focus on larger problems in the Catholic Church.
By Reed Johnson, Times Staff

Even under the best of circumstances, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels looked as if it might be a tough sell. Rising above the Hollywood Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, the nearly $200-million edifice is an imposing mass of modern design, a resolutely 21st century building wedded to the tenets of an old and tradition-minded faith. Though some observers have praised the spare elegance of architect Jose Rafael Moneo's work, others have derided the cathedral's high price tag and lamented an austere, abstract style that has put some observers in mind of an industrial plant.

To its most persistent critics, the cathedral-in-progress epitomizes the egotism and arrogance of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and the aloofness of a Roman Catholic archdiocese they felt had turned its back on its core mission by abandoning its former skid row location for a fancy new address. The weekly alternative newspaper New Times has dubbed it "the Taj Mahony," a phrase that has stuck in local op-ed pages. Yet these controversies pale in comparison to the child sex-abuse scandal that's shaking the U.S. Catholic Church to its foundations. Now, with the cathedral's anticipated opening less than three months away, some believe that Our Lady of the Angels could become an embarrassingly high-profile focus for the larger problems of the Catholic Church. At best, they suggest, the cathedral may be seen as an unlucky victim of terrible timing, at worst as a costly 11-story fig leaf trying to camouflage the shame of its spiritual custodians…

Theater Review;
Once an Altar, Now a Stage;
St. Vibiana's, the defunct downtown Catholic church, is the venue for 'Crossings,' a refreshing production of six plays of updated Bible stories.
By Diane Haithman, Times Staff

An out-of-place object becomes an accidental piece of public art in the parking lot of downtown's defunct St. Vibiana's Roman Catholic Church. The cream-colored cupola that stood atop the church's bell tower for more than 100 years now lies sideways on the pavement, as if someone ripped the top off a wedding cake and dashed it to the ground. Next to the cupola is the church cross, also resting on its side.

Both the cupola and the cross are victims of the 1994 Northridge quake, when severe damage led to hotly debated plans to raze the Spanish Baroque cathedral at 2nd and Main streets to make room for a new cathedral. Instead, St. Vibiana's will be redeveloped into a complex containing a performing arts center, hotel and restaurant--as a new cathedral, Our Lady of the Angels, goes up nearby. But for now, the cracked and peeling St. Vibiana's is being put to remarkably effective use as the home of "Crossings," a refreshing, emotionally direct production from Cornerstone Theatre Company, using updated Bible stories to explore the journeys of Catholic immigrants to Southern California…


A jewel among the brownstones

Our Lady of Victories, the Marist church on Isabella Street in Boston's Bay Village, is nestled like a Faberge egg among the historic brickwork of this downtown neighborhood. A plaque recalls the first Catholic martyr of Massachusetts. The pastor is chaplain to the Port of Boston. A fine photo gallery by Ozgur Basak Alkan captures Bay Village in its best light.


Bombing Link Swayed Bush: At the same time Arafat was decrying suicide-bombings he was paying for them.

An End to Pretending: Michael Kelly writes. (Link via Quid Novi) For better or worse -- a great deal better, I think -- Bush has set the Palestinian issue within the context of a larger approach that is fundamentally, historically radical: a rejection of decades of policy, indeed a rejection of the entire philosophy of Middle East diplomacy. This philosophy has rested on a willingness to accept a U.S. role as a player in a running fraud.


Tuesday, June 25, 2002  

The Duomo, Florence


"We are to regard existence as a raid or great adventure; it is to be judged, therefore, not by what calamities it encounters, but by what flag it follows and what high town it assaults. The most dangerous thing in the world is to be alive; one is always in danger of one's life. But anyone who shrinks from that is a traitor to the great scheme and experiment of being." G. K. Chesterton


Commentary: Law could be the next pope: Go ahead, scoff, the way you did at all those warnings about the killer asteroids.


Many say Catholic bishops' reform only scratches the surface: M.D. Harmon writes in the Portland Press Herald.

[T]raditionalists ask why the bishops took testimony on the issue of clerical child sex abuse from left-of-center sources, but did not invite prominent orthodox Catholic intellectuals and commentators.

Conspicuous by their absence were theologian Michael Novak, law professor Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard, Boston College's Peter Kreeft, Pope John Paul II's biographer George Weigel and Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, publisher of the magazine First Things, among many others.

They were purposefully excluded, according to the
National Review's Rod Dreher, because their testimony would have pointed the bishops in a direction they did not wish to go.


Taj Mahony: Cardinal Roger Mahony threatened, hoodwinked and strong-armed to get a lavish new cathedral built in L.A. The result is a colossal monument to his ego, Ron Russell writes in New Times. The paper's series on the Cardinal, "Legacy of Shame," may be read here.


Yellow Armadillo: Don't expect the new Catholic cathedral to wind up on postcards of L.A.'s scenic attractions, writes Jill Stewart in New Times.

In the sparest of terms, our new cement cathedral, created by renowned Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo -- best known for designing banks and airports -- is butt-ugly.

It's oppressive. Fortress-like. And really, really ochre.

It reflects a boring squareness, with its imposing walls built nearly out to the sidewalks along Temple Street, Hill Street and Grand Avenue. Equally unappealing are the yellow cement scales that armor the boxy structure like cascading shingles. Think of the sheathed Batmobile from the Batman movies and you have the general idea. What exactly is this cathedral armored against, that it must be blanketed by thousands of coffin-sized slabs of yellow cement?

One resident of nearby Echo Park described the cathedral as "like a giant display of closed louvers. I am being nice when I say perhaps it is in homage to the 1950s windows that typify this part of town."

Hardly anyone to whom I spoke would talk on the record, as if they might be cast into hellfire and damnation. Everyone is scared of Cardinal Roger Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles, a powerful holy man who is known for his occasional temper tantrums and abiding vindictiveness.

Typical was the comment from a high-ranking executive with a major developer downtown. Just like me, he is thrilled that the cathedral, though truly ugly, will bring more activity downtown.

"It never ceases to amaze me how you can spend $163 million on something so oppressive," he says. "There was a worldwide contest to find this world-famous architect. Why does it have to be this fortress? God, it's so ugly! If you tell the truth about it, the angels will bless you, because they will think you're right!"

(Thanks to John Hench for the link.)


Monday, June 24, 2002  
St. Vibiana's Cathedral, Los Angeles, shown here in 1940,

is to be succeeded by this, aptly described by Widening Gyre as "a grim hangar for God."

The new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels – such a lilting name for such a graceless structure! – reminds me of the Alewife
MBTA station in Cambridge, or a nuclear plant, or a wastewater-treatment facility.

You would think people would have learned by now. Consider Boston's grand Old City Hall and the contrast with its current successor, built in the New Brutalist style of the 1960s.

The architects of City Hall explain that the structure of the building is suggestive of the workings of government. In this explanation the massive brick plaza flows into the building where there are large public spaces. The upper floors provide repetitive anonymous space for agencies, and the bold middle section is for the elected officials who are the conduits between bureaucrats and the public. The result is an uncharacteristically desolate building.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney reflects on the exterior of his new monument.

The Cathedral should gently but clearly speak to the downtown hubs of government, business and the professional community, serving not only as a geographical point of reference, but truly linking the secular with the sacred: God's handiwork now in vital touch with our human handiwork.

Vital touch with a wrecking ball would be more like it.


Another volley across the Islamofascist bow by the incomparable Lileks: Be sure to read this screed all the way to the end. Clever. Then wrenchingly sad.

Palestinian child abuse decried by Little Green Footballs: More than anything, this is what has turned me against the Palestinian cause – the systematic, organized perversion and abuse of their own children in the service of hate and bloodlust. If anything on this wretched planet deserves to be called evil, it is this.

Amazing what a few offensive remarks by Ted Turner and a threatened boycott can achieve: CNN actually presents the Israeli side – with a vengeance – in a report on the Mideast crisis. Here's to balance, in a hurry!

The Killing Mantra: A new study tells American mothers that the safest way to get the kids to school is to put them on the bus. Not so in Israel. After another Palestinian terrorist incinerated another Israeli bus, a Netanya mother revealed the painful difference to BBC News: "If my kids end up having to get a bus, I will give them a loving speech before they go in case they never come back" —back from the limb-littered killing fields suicide-bombers have made of Israeli cities and towns…And Palestinian mothers? They, too, give a loving speech before their children go, sometimes videotaping it, but all too many of them actually hope their youngsters never come back. The sickening fact is, the strongest desire of certain Palestinian parents is for their children to die, killing as many Jews as possible, from infants to old people, in the process. Diana West writes in the Washington Times.


Gay couple, surrogate mom expecting quads

Meehan and Dysarz met in California in 1998. By 2000, they were busy building a hair-salon business, but their home seemed empty, and they decided to pursue fatherhood.

Last fall, a 23-year-old woman came into the salon with three children. Dysarz thought the children were adorable. He kidded the woman about taking them home. Then he heard her say she felt as if she had been given a calling: to become a surrogate mother.

She agreed to help Meehan and Dysarz. Working through a Lexington fertility clinic, she became pregnant in January.

The men said they are following Kentucky law in paying her only for medical and living expenses. Those costs run $1,000 each month.

"Michael will be 'Dad,' because he's the biological father," Dysarz said. "I'll be 'Thomas.'"

Meantime, in the Massachusetts governor's race…

Reich backs gay civil marriage, calls it civil rights issue

BOSTON (AP) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Robert Reich supports the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, saying it is a civil rights issue.

Reich, like the four other Democratic candidates, had previously supported civil unions, which provide the benefits of marriage for gay couples under a separate legal structure. However, gay marriage would draw no distinction between same-sex and opposite sex marriages.

Reich said he wanted to give same-sex couples the right to marry under civil law, and did not want to address the policies and rights of religious groups.

In addition to recognizing the equality of gay and lesbian couples, a "gay civil marriage" will also allow same-sex couples legal standing to challenge federal and state laws defining marriage as the union of two people of opposite sex, Reich said.

Reich's position may slow the momentum of the two Democratic front-runners, state Treasurer Shannon O'Brien and Senate President Thomas Birmingham, observers said.

"It's staking out the liberal territory and saying this is mine and reminding people 'I'm the true liberal in this race,"' said Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University. "He's trying to stand out in a very crowded field."

Mitt Romney, the only Republican running for governor, opposes gay marriage but supports domestic partnership laws, which would give some benefits to gay couples.

Reich does not see the issue as liberal vs. conservative issue, and said he would use the "bully pulpit" of the governor's office to push for the measure.

"Ultimately, it's a matter of educating the public, because nothing gets done unless the public understands and accepts and wants it," he said.

Reich, a former Labor Secretary under President Clinton, said he had taken some lessons from that administration's handling of the gays in the military issue.

"Once you begin to try to satisfy everyone you sometimes end up satisfying no one," he said. "I think on issues of principle such as this you have to be very clear and state your position."

Has Massachusetts really gone so far down the road toward Scandinavian-style social nannyism that all the Democratic candidates should readily embrace civil unions, that the Green and Libertarian candidates should support marriage rights for gays, and even the Republican candidate should back domestic-partnership benefits?

Do these positions actually reflect mainstream opinion in Massachusetts? I'm not convinced – not convinced at all. In today's political climate in the Bay State, appealing to common sense with a defense of the traditional family is a sure way to get accused of intolerance – but someone ought to have the fortitude to stand up and do it. Why are the leftist social engineers simply ceded the field? They can't speak for everyone in Massachusetts. They don’t.

One more reason to be dismayed at the collapse of the moral authority of the Catholic hierarchy in Massachusetts.


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