"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
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. Email
At the Matara Cemeterary on the Hakmana road, a Nun is being buried. "Our Sister was in the sanctuary during the morning service when the wave came - she was old and could not run," said another Nun. The deceased nun served at the Our Lady of Matara, which faces the sea. The central statue of the Church was lifted out to sea. "This is the fourth time it has been washed away - the statue came by sea and it was taken by it," say Parishioners. "We know it will come back."
This miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin and Child Jesus has worked numerous miracles…Originally, history points out how the huge wooden crate was hauled out of the sea by fishermen of Weligama. When it was opened it was this most beautiful statue of the Mother and Child found inside untouched by sea water. The fishermen of Weligama had handed over the statue to the Parish Priest who subsequently placed it at St. Marys Church, Matara…
It is very clear that the statue of the Blessed Mother had come on its own unchaperoned over the waves…May our Lady of Matara bless and protect our beautiful country Sri Lanka with peace this crucial hour together with all our families.
The name of the train wrecked by tsunami in the world's worst rail disaster: Queen of the Sea.
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UPDATE 12/31: The Archbishop of Colombo reports the tsunami hit as a religious ceremony was being held under the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Matara, "venerated not only by Catholics, but by everyone locally:
"When the first wave hit, people began to flee; when the water receded, the priests and faithful turned back, but at that point the second wave hit and swept them away."
Hiran de Silva reports the statue of Our Lady washed up, safely, in his mother's garden in Matara (see Dec. 31 post).
The Archdiocese of Colombo has posted images of the Church of Our Lady of Matara in the aftermath of the disaster, including a picture of the statue. The site includes an appeal for donations to the Archbishop's Tidal Wave Relief Fund.
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Disaster struck with no warning out of a faultlessly clear blue sky.
I was taking my morning swim around the island that my brother Geoffrey, a businessman, had bought on a whim a decade ago and turned into a tropical paradise 200 yards from one of the world's most beautiful beaches.
I was a quarter way around the island when I heard my brother shouting at me, "Come back! Come back! There's something strange happening with the sea."… Michael Dobbs of the Washington Post writing from Weligama, Sri Lanka, Dec. 26.
The Post has a package of coverage on the tsunami.
Our fathers understood this. All the Western religions conceived of man as a puny thing next to his Creator. But, in the 21st century, we chafe at the idea that bad things may simply happen, that there was no way of stopping them, that no one is to blame and that no one can be sued. A tsunami strikes at our precious modern sense of being masters of our fate. We feel, with Gonzalo at the beginning of The Tempest, that there is something particularly unfair about meeting our end this way: "Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground, long heath, brown furze, any thing. The wills above be done! but I would fain die a dry death". Powerlessness is one of the most wretched of human feelings. But there are days when a readiness to accept the hardness of our condition is the only proper attitude. Yesterday was such a day.
Say what you want, but the quintessential Chesterton film is "It's a Wonderful Life." Everything about it is Chestertonian. -- American Chesterton Society President Dale Ahlquist.
Here's G. K. Chesterton, in 1901, nearly a half-century before the film's release, effectively describing George Bailey:
Religion has had to provide that longest and strangest telescope - the telescope through which we could see the star upon which we dwelt. For the mind and eyes of the average man this world is as lost as Eden and as sunken as Atlantis. There runs a strange law through the length of human history - that men are continually tending to undervalue their environment, to undervalue their happiness, to undervalue themselves. The great sin of mankind, the sin typified by the fall of Adam is the tendency, not towards pride, but towards this weird and horrible humility. This is the great fall, the fall by which the fish forgets the sea, the ox forgets the meadow, the clerk forgets the city, every man forgets his environment and, in the fullest and most literal sense, forgets himself. This is the real fall of Adam, and it is a spiritual fall. . . Most probably we are in Eden still. It is only our eyes that have changed.
The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.
A few scenes in the Christmas viewing canon I find unfailingly moving, no matter how many times I've seen them. One is Harry Bailey's toast to his big brother George.
Others, in the 1951 Alastair Sim version of Christmas Carol, are when the tormented spirits seek to interfere for good but cannot; when Scrooge sees again the beloved sister he lost; and when the jovial Ghost of Christmas Present reveals the children Ignorance and Want.
The Wall Street Journal of Dec. 15 devotes Column Four on its front page to a telling of the saga, accompanied by a fine WSJ pointillist rendering of Uncas. The piece unfortunately is not posted online, but if you have a copy of Wednesday's WSJ handy, the article is a good read.
Goodbye, Dolly Gray? As a Red Sox fan, I'm well acquainted with the baseball equivalent of Lucy's pulling the ball from Charlie Brown at the last second. And I thought Boston city politics set the standard in petty hackery. But the display of double-dealing by the DC Council that may cost Washington baseball fans their long-awaited team is quite breathtaking.
UPDATE: Okay, the Christmas spirit officially is in full swing, thanks to It's a Wonderful Life, re-enacted in 30 seconds, by bunnies. Be sure to click the silhouette bunnies at the end for bonus scenes. Hot dog! (Yips to the Llamas)
To hear "Buffalo Gals," scroll all the way to the bottom of this German page.
Theodore Roosevelt views a teddy bear laid in his path on a 1910 visit to Oxford, where the chancellor, Lord Curzon, addressed him as, "peer of the most august kings, queller of wars, destroyer of monsters wherever found, yet the most human of mankind, deeming nothing indifferent to you, not even the blackest of the black."
At Armavirumque, Roger Kimball has been reading Roosevelt's letters and speeches and suggests TR's views on home and family would trigger apoplexy among today's chattering classes.
Quickly a new Federal brigade burst toward Marye's Heights and the "terrible stone wall," then another, and another, until three entire divisions had hurled themselves at the Confederate bastion. In one hour, the Army of the Potomac lost nearly 3,000 men; but the madness continued.
More Union units tested the impossible. "We came forward as though breasting a storm of rain and sleet, our faces and bodies being only half- turned to the storm, our shoulders shrugged," remembered one Federal. "Everybody from the smallest drummer boy on up seemed to be shouting to the full extent of his capacity," recalled another. But each blue wave crested short of the goal. Not a single Union soldier laid his hand on the stone wall.
Lee, from his lofty perch on Telegraph Hill, watched Longstreet's almost casual destruction of Burnside's divisions as Jackson's counterattack repulsed Meade. Turning toward Longstreet, Lee confessed, "It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it."
Of the 12,600 Federal soldiers killed, wounded, or missing, almost two-thirds fell in front of the stone wall.
He's got a gun concealed about his person. You can't tell me he throws them balls with his arm. Ring Lardner on Walter Johnson
On this day in 1946, Walter Johnson, nicknamed "The Big Train," whose fastball is considered among the best in baseball history, died at age 59. Today in History has more.
It goes without saying this hot-stove season has been grand for a Red Sox fan, but for the baseball mossback it has been made wonderful as well by the prospect of the national pastime's rightful return to the nation's capital, in advance of which happy event has sprung up a whole new crop of DC baseball blogs.
The Mixolydian Mode itself has made the finals in the Top 3500 to 5000 category of the 2004 Weblog Awards, so get over and cast a vote while there's still time.
Meantime, Mr. and Mrs. P are inviting drink recipes for the WebGrog Awards. This has set me casting about for the ingredients to the Headhunter made so memorably by the genial gold-toothed barman at the China Ruby.
* New Republic editor Peter Beinart's latest, "The Good Fight," presses the argument that the struggle against Islamist totalitarianism should define contemporary liberalism.
* Hamilton College had planned to name as "artist and activist in residence" a former Weather Underground militant who was involved in the murder of a Brink's guard and two police officers and who spent 16 years in the pen for making explosives. The appointment has been derailed, thanks in good part to the reporting of Roger Kimball and colleagues at The New Criterion. Well done.
* The late David Brudnoy, a talk-radio host much respected for his intelligence, independent-mindedness and courage, is paid tribute by Thomas Hibbs.
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He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative. GK Chesterton
That's a quote that may soon find itself on the left hand side of this page. (Via TSO)
Elsewhere on the Chestertonian front: A very nice pic on the occasion of Advent * Notorious GKC
Most years I arrive in my garden too late. The tips of the first shoots have already broken the surface by the time I brush back any snow and leaves to have a look. It has happened quietly, out of sight. When Our Lady is conceived, our salvation is already in the bud: God's wonderful plan is silently at work, but the event is not even recorded in the Bible. No one noticed. No angels sang over the hills, no shepherds left their flocks to come and see, no wise men followed the stars. And yet the Coming of Christ began with this event we celebrate today…
Happy St Nicholas Day: To get the spirit of the season rolling, here's a James Thurber holiday favorite, "A Visit from Saint Nicholas (In the Ernest Hemingway Manner)":
It was the night before Christmas. The house was very quiet. No creatures were stirring in the house. There weren’t even any mice stirring. The stockings had been hung carefully by the chimney. The children hoped that Saint Nicholas would come and fill them.
The children were in their beds. Their beds were in the room next to ours. Mamma and I were in our beds. Mamma wore a kerchief. I had my cap on. I could hear the children moving. We didn’t move. We wanted the children to think we were asleep.
“Father,” the children said.
There was no answer. He’s there, all right, they thought.
“Father,” they said, and banged on their beds.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“We have visions of sugarplums,” the children said…
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Andrew Cusack posts a tribute to the good saint and to a lost NYC landmark, the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, "New York's Protestant Cathedral," which housed the oldest congregation in the city but was torn down to make room for the Sinclair Oil Building.
One of the things I like so much about Edward Windsor Kemble is the way his characters bound – cakewalk, really -- through the frame: See his 1908 GOP conventioneers, and especially, his Taft as cross-country harrier.
Why I appreciate The New Republic, Exhibit A: Editor Peter Beinart's recent "Argument for a New Liberalism: A Fighting Faith," urging American liberals to follow the example of the postwar anti-communists and stand for freedom against totalitarianism. The Moore-MoveOn.org crowd, the piece argues, are heirs to the Henry Wallace tradition, not even acknowledging Islamist terrorism as a threat, as the Seegeristas didn't Stalinism:
Today, three years after September 11 brought the United States face-to-face with a new totalitarian threat, liberalism has still not "been fundamentally reshaped" by the experience. On the right, a "historical re-education" has indeed occurred--replacing the isolationism of the Gingrich Congress with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's near-theological faith in the transformative capacity of U.S. military might. But American liberalism, as defined by its activist organizations, remains largely what it was in the 1990s--a collection of domestic interests and concerns. On health care, gay rights, and the environment, there is a positive vision, articulated with passion. But there is little liberal passion to win the struggle against Al Qaeda--even though totalitarian Islam has killed thousands of Americans and aims to kill millions; and even though, if it gained power, its efforts to force every aspect of life into conformity with a barbaric interpretation of Islam would reign terror upon women, religious minorities, and anyone in the Muslim world with a thirst for modernity or freedom.
When liberals talk about America's new era, the discussion is largely negative--against the Iraq war, against restrictions on civil liberties, against America's worsening reputation in the world. In sharp contrast to the first years of the cold war, post-September 11 liberalism has produced leaders and institutions--most notably Michael Moore and MoveOn--that do not put the struggle against America's new totalitarian foe at the center of their hopes for a better world. As a result, the Democratic Party boasts a fairly hawkish foreign policy establishment and a cadre of politicians and strategists eager to look tough. But, below this small elite sits a Wallacite grassroots that views America's new struggle as a distraction, if not a mirage. Two elections, and two defeats, into the September 11 era, American liberalism still has not had its meeting at the Willard Hotel. And the hour is getting late.
Harvard Law Professor William J. Stuntz sees potential common ground between blue-state academics and red-state evangelicals:
True, university faculties are heavily Democratic, and evangelical churches are thick with Republicans. But that red-blue polarization is mostly a consequence of which issues are on the table -- and which ones aren't. Change the issue menu, and those electoral maps may look very different. Imagine a presidential campaign in which the two candidates seriously debated how a loving society should treat its poorest members. Helping the poor is supposed to be the left's central commitment, going back to the days of FDR and the New Deal. In practice, the commitment has all but disappeared from national politics. Judging by the speeches of liberal Democratic politicians, what poor people need most is free abortions. Anti-poverty programs tend to help middle-class government employees; the poor end up with a few scraps from the table. Teachers' unions have a stranglehold on failed urban school systems, even though fixing those schools would be the best anti-poverty program imaginable.
I don't think my liberal Democratic professor friends like this state of affairs. And -- here's a news flash -- neither do most evangelicals, who regard helping the poor as both a passion and a spiritual obligation, not just a political preference. (This may be even more true of theologically conservative Catholics.) These men and women vote Republican not because they like the party's policy toward poverty -- cut taxes and hope for the best -- but because poverty isn't on the table anymore. In evangelical churches, elections are mostly about abortion. Neither party seems much concerned with giving a hand to those who most need it.
We are left with the need to see force and power as actual servants of justice. C. S. Lewis wrote in his essay “Why I Am Not a Pacifist:”
It is arguable that a criminal can always be satisfactorily dealt with without the death penalty. It is certain that a whole nation cannot be prevented from taking what it wants except by war. It is almost equally certain that the absorption of certain societies by certain other societies is a great evil. The doctrine that war is always a greater evil seems to imply a materialist ethic, a belief that death and pain are the greatest evils. But I do not think they are. I think the suppression of a higher religion by a lower, of even a higher secular culture by a lower, a much greater evil . . . . The question is whether war is the greatest evil in the world, so that any state of affairs, which might result from submission, is certainly preferable. And I do not see any really cogent argument for this view.
Lewis, as usual, had it about right. War is not the greatest evil, but at times the only means to prevent evil. This is true on both a large and small scale. What we are left with is that the effective use of force is still best and most properly left in the national state. This is not the war of all against all, but the war of those who can limit terrorism and tyranny when and where it occurs. The worst modern tyranny in the twenty-first century will not come from armies but from their lack, from the lack of capacity and courage to use them wherever they are needed to protect justice, freedom, and truth.
The real alternative to just war cannot be viable without including the necessity and ability to deal with those who do not know or listen to reason.
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A pro-choice party no more: If every vote counts, asks Kristin Day of Democrats for Life, why does the Democratic Party ignore pro-life Democrats?
Meantime, if you haven't yet, do read the text of the inaugural Bob Casey Lecture given this fall in the Archdiocese of Denver by William McGurn.
[T]he Democratic party is frank about where it stands. Here is the relevant language from the 2004 platform:
Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right.
I will spare a reading of the contrasting plank from the Republican party, because my object here is not to declare between Republicans and Democrats but to highlight the cleavage between the Democratic party whose mission Hubert Humphrey defined as standing for "those in the dawn of life, those in the shadows of life, and those in the twilight of life" and the Democratic party of this platform, whose first sentence thumps for the most extreme of all abortion positions: abortion on demand with taxpayer funding. Thumps for it clearly and without apology.
The political consequence of this position is evident every day in our headlines: war on anything that threatens this absolutist stance, whether it be restrictions on federal funding or partial birth abortions, to the maligning and political destruction of judicial nominees deemed to show insufficient piety for the view that Roe is sacrosanct while at the same time every other precedent is for grabs depending on the social or political exigencies of the moment.
John Kerry did not create the abortion test that is today operates to push faithful Catholics off the public square on the grounds that their Catholicity may be deeply held. But John Kerry, like all national Democratic contenders, must be defined by it or become, a la Governor Casey, a stranger in his own land.
Appalling: That is one word that immediately comes to mind on contemplating this historic Pittsburgh church transformed into a brewpub. Grotesque is another.
I have high regard for architectural preservation, and perhaps an even higher regard for brewpubs. But I also have high regard for old churches, and can't comprehend how what was done to this one is ballyhooed as a wonderful thing. Read the spiel:
Church Restored To Former Glory
The former confessional in the dining room was removed to provide a necessary link to the kitchen. The bricks salvaged from the removal of the confessional have been reused for the pillars on the outdoor sign, the facade on the outdoor ramp and the facade of the new kitchen link. The other confessional remains intact behind the bar and houses "The Church Brew Works" merchandise. Painstaking attention to detail and the integrative reuse of existing fixtures all help to create a spectacular atmosphere to enhance your brewpub experience.
By far, the most breathtaking element is the position of the brew house on the altar. Because the altar was built as a centerpiece of the church, the steel and copper tanks gleaming in the celestial blue backdrop is nothing less than captivating. This extraordinary view is only paralleled by the quality and taste of our beer.
And so the profanation of a holy place becomes a "restoration to former glory." My question: Did the "preservationists" or brewmeisters at any time experience any sort of reservation over this project?
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"The Politics of Architecture" is a piece by Peter Kreeft from a few years back that's worth reading again for its taxonomic observations on liberals and conservatives, radicals and traditionalists. Kreeft's liberal and conservative might like the brewpub abomination above, but his traditionalist and radical probably wouldn't.
Matthew at the Holy Whapping on Nov. 27 has lots on sirens and mermaids, while noting discerningly, re the Thanksgiving decorations at S. Clement's in Philadelphia, "squash and sub-tractarianism don't quite go together as well as people suppose."
Fr. Francis Sweeney, SJ, founded a humanities lecture series at Boston College that over the years drew the likes of TS Eliot, Robert Frost and Alec Guinness to campus. Here's Samuel Eliot Morison signing the guestbook. An online exhibit on the late Fr. Sweeney includes a pic of him as a novice at Shadowbrook and an image of his ordination by then-Archbishop Cushing that is quite POD. #