"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
An ostensibly Catholic theologian who previously argued Madonna crucified was wonderful is now trotted out by the Boston Globe to hold forth on the truly inspiring Christian message in the writings of Philip Pullman. (Yes, the dogmatic atheist children's-author who wants to "kill God.") Newspapers do favor the man-bites-dog headline, and if it's sheer counter-intuitive lunacy you seek, you need look no further than the closest college theology faculty.
The anti-C.S. Lewis, Pullman intends his fantasy stories to subvert God, and acknowledges as much. If there were an opposite of the Jesuit anagram AMDG (For the Greater Glory of God) Pullman would readily stamp his writings with it.
Columnist Leonie Caldecott of the Catholic Herald in the UK once wrote that Pullman's books are "worthy of the bonfire":
It was close to Guy Fawkes night, when English children tend to have bonfire parties and let off fireworks, so I joked in a regular column I write for the Catholic Herald that any book-burners out there could find many other stories far more “worthy of the bonfire” than Harry Potter. I went on to use Pullman’s books as an example of something that was far more likely to harm a child’s capacity for faith. After describing the plots of the first two books, I pointed out that, in these books, everything we normally associate with safety and security—parents, priests, and even God himself—is evil, is indeed “the stuff of nightmares.” That is to say, they affect a child’s consciousness at its most vulnerable point.
Now, The Golden Compass, Hollywood's adaptation of the first book in Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, is set to be released for the Christmas season. You would imagine from the promotional ballyhoo that the picture is in the same vein as The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. But the animating theme behind Pullman's original stories is quite the opposite. Though the producers reportedly have taken out the most blatant anti-religious messaging, The Golden Compass still should carry a warning: Caveat Emptor.
No one complains when children's safety groups release their annual list of dangerous toys – but sounding an alarm over the peddling of spiritual poison to children runs you the risk of being labeled a censorious book-banner. Nevertheless:
If you have children don't take them to see The Golden Compass. And don't give them Philip Pullman's books for Christmas. His is pernicious stuff.
They were the necessary other side in many of my most fundamental moments, the inspiration and competitive prod for them, irrevocably and fondly associated with them... When a career ends, when the passion of the game subsides, towards a good opponent you only feel gratitude.
On his right wrist, McCain wears a black bracelet bearing the name of Matthew J. Stanley, a 22-year-old Army Specialist killed December 16, 2006, by an IED in Taji, Iraq. Stanley was from Wolfeboro, N.H., and his mother gave McCain the bracelet at a town meeting. He says it helps him keep the war in perspective -- as if he needed more perspective, since his son, Jimmy, is a Marine serving in Iraq. McCain doesn't bring that up in public, but he mentions it to me as he looks at Matthew Stanley's picture on the bracelet. "We never talk about my son being there, and I don't let that affect my views on the war," he says quietly.
McCain can be a decidedly unsentimental man -- he once told me that the anti-war congressman John Murtha had been too affected by talking to families of soldiers killed in Iraq -- but just seconds after he mentions Jimmy, he shows a different side. He tells me a story he heard from Theodore Roosevelt biographer Edmund Morris, who described how Roosevelt's favorite son, Quentin, a military pilot, was shot down and killed on the western front in World War I. A woman sent Roosevelt a message of condolence, and he wrote back a strongly worded letter saying he would gladly sacrifice all his sons in the cause of freedom. "It was a very brave, strong letter in the TR style," McCain tells me. "And then, a couple of weeks later, somebody walked into the stable at Sagamore Hill, and there was TR with his arms around Quentin's favorite pony, with tears streaming down his face, saying, 'Quenty, Quenty.'"
McCain pauses for just a moment. "It was one of the more touching stories I've ever --" Another pause. "I get a little emotional just relating it."
-- "McCain Soldiers On," Byron York, National Review, 11/19/07
Her journey from a working class background in Roxbury’s Mission Hill project, and later in Dorchester, to the palatial office of the Senate president has been remarkable. The daughter of devout Irish Catholic parents, she and her five sisters attended parochial schools.
She has been fascinated with politics since an early age. At 12, she worked as a volunteer in Ted Kennedy’s initial Senate campaign, and later assisted the gubernatorial bid of Mike Dukakis. Still, she did not run for office until she was in her early 40s. By then she lived in Plymouth, was divorced and the single mother of a daughter.
A lifelong Democrat, she ran for the Senate in 1992, beating a 20-year GOP incumbent. She is now in her eighth term, representing the Plymouth and Barnstable District on the Cape.
“I like to work hard,” she said. “The nuns and my parents instilled strong work ethics in me.”
“We were always a close family, and the church was the center of it. My parents were loving, strict and devout Catholics. I never heard them say a bad thing about anyone, but the English. You know how that is with the Irish!”
And now, she puts what she learned from the nuns to work quashing protest against abortion and preventing the citizenry from having a say on same-sex marriage. She is a fair example of today's Irish Catholic Democratic pol in supposedly Catholic Massachusetts where party ideology solidly trumps any vestige of religious faith. And she is Senate president, for Wales.
[T]here is something profoundly wrong—something that should trouble all of us—when we have elected Democratic officials who seem more worried about how the Bush administration might respond to Iran’s murder of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is murdering our troops.
There is likewise something profoundly wrong when we see candidates who are willing to pander to this politically paranoid, hyper-partisan sentiment in the Democratic base—even if it sends a message of weakness and division to the Iranian regime.
For me, this episode reinforces how far the Democratic Party of 2007 has strayed from the Democratic Party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and the Clinton-Gore administration.
That is why I call myself an Independent Democrat today. It is because my foreign policy convictions are the convictions that have traditionally animated the Democratic Party—but they exist in me today independent of the current Democratic Party, which has largely repudiated them.
About six months ago, I was having lunch with a political consultant and we were having a smart-alecky conversation about the presidential race. All of sudden, my friend interrupted the flow of gossip and said: “You know, there’s really only one great man running for president this year, and that’s McCain.”
I spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning riding with Senator McCain and his campaign in Southern New Hampshire. I urge other bloggers to take advantage of this opportunity. I doubt that any future candidate of John McCain’s stature, or anything approaching it, will ever offer the kind of access McCain provides. Indeed, one journalist who has been following the major candidates this year told me that McCain probably answered more questions from reporters on Saturday afternoon than Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or Mitt Romney has answered during the entire campaign.
The story goes my Acadian grandfather had a cousin whose brothers -- it may have been as many as five -- all were killed in the Great War. She was the remaining sister. Her name was MacDonald and she lived in Sydney, Nova Scotia. My grandmother used to correspond with her.
That's all I know. A cursory investigation on the Web shows there were quite a few MacDonalds who served.
Not nearly as well known as Vimy or the Somme, Passchendaele nonetheless deserves considerable attention because it is one of the greatest symbols of the futility and pity of war this country has. The scene at the small Belgian village was so awful that after the battle one British General asked, "Did we really send men to fight in that?"
There is no shortage of descriptions of the conditions at Passchendaele. Students today have it drilled into them that the battle means one word: mud.
Indeed, the battlefield was beyond the imagination of anyone living today. Two years of shelling in the area churned up the surrounding fields. Heavy rains that autumn turned them into an indescribable quagmire in which guns, men and animals could be swallowed up whole. And they often were.
Shell holes were filled with slimy water; soldiers who ended up in them, wounded, often drowned or found themselves sharing a hole with dead bodies. The dead often stayed where they fell. This was Passchendaele.
Here is an account of the 85th Nova Scotia Highlanders after the taking of Passchendaele, November, 1917:
The next day everything was quit, there was no exchange of fire, both sides collecting their dead and wounded as had not disappeared in the mud. Relieving units made their way forward and a couple of days afterwards the battered remnant of the once splendid Regiment was assembled at a ruined village a few kilometers in the rear. The Brass Band was brought up to play them off the field. Major Ralston supervised the roll call, 65 answered their names. 492 failed to do so. The Piped Band went in as stretcher-bearers, and had fallen to the last man. "Standing easy" in the street of this little Belgium Town, they awaited the arrival of their Colonel. In dew time he appeared. They smartly snapped to” Attention”. Where are the rest of them? "Inquired the Colonel?" This is all that of them, Colonel, "this is all that left of the 85th" , was the reply in a voice that was not too steady. For a few minutes Borden sat frozen in his saddle, speechless. With out a word he turned his horse's head around, and moved off at a walk; not an officer remained on his feet except Borden, Ralston, Col Hayes the Medical Officer and Father Ronald Mac Donald, the Chaplain.
This morning, I flew to Iowa to join and endorse my friend, John McCain, for President of the United States. John McCain is a true American hero and I'm proud to stand with him today. He is the only candidate who can rally the Reagan coalition of conservatives, Independents, and conservative Democrats needed to defeat Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat in the general election next year.
While I respect all of the Republicans running for president this year, John McCain is the only choice to lead our country in the global fight against Islamic fundamentalism. He has the experience, the knowledge, and the courage for this fight. He alone among the candidates for President recognized years ago that our strategy in Iraq was failing and had the guts to call for change. We need that leadership in the White House.
John McCain also represents the values that are the core of our Republican party. He has spent a lifetime standing up for human rights around the world, including a consistent 24 year pro-life record of protecting the rights of the unborn. We do not have to abandon our principles of life, faith and family to defeat the Democrats next fall; we can stand with John McCain.
Suppose...a politically savvy Rip Van Winkle in, say, 1965, perceiving that a movement to legalize abortion was gaining strength in the country, were asked, “Which of the two major political parties will eventually identify with that movement?” What would he answer? I think he would mull it over in his head for awhile and then say: “the Republicans, probably.” Why? “Well, in the first place, it fits pretty well into the Republicans’ private-property philosophy. ‘Let’s keep government out of a woman’s most personal property.’ Secondly, consider the demographics. The Republicans draw heavily from the upper-middle class WASPs, where the drive for population control has always come from. Abortion fits very well into the old eugenics mythology—the belief that you can improve the health of the ‘race’ by limiting the breeding of ‘undesirables.’ You can still hear echoes of that in the conversations of bicoastal Republicans. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Republican Party came out with a plank saying ‘We support abortion, in certain cases, for the nation’s overall health and well-being.’ Finally, consider the Republicans’ emphasis on the need for law and order and their conservative approach to welfare. The Republicans may not say this out loud but it slots right into their conservative ideology: abortion is good because, by holding down illegitimate births, it will cut down on crime and welfare costs.”
What about the Democrats? “Well,” Rip would say, “let’s start again with demographics. Consider the heavy concentration of Roman Catholics in the Democratic Party. The Church hierarchy would go bananas if any prominent Catholic Democrat—or any Democrat at all—came out in favor of abortion. The Church has consistently held that abortion is one of the gravest moral offenses because it involves the direct killing of an innocent human being. No way is a Catholic Democrat, or any Democrat who wants Catholic support (and what Democrat doesn’t?), going to support abortion. It might even be smart politics for the Democrats to pick a fight with the Republicans on the abortion issue. Democrats like to boast that they protect the weak and vulnerable, those in the earliest and the final stages of life, the elderly, the weak, and the handicapped. Now, all the Democrats have to do is insert ‘unborn children’ into that list and they can beat up the Republicans every time on the abortion issue. I can hear them now: ‘Let the Republicans pick on the weak and vulnerable, killing children in the womb to cut welfare costs. We Democrats are the party of compassion, the party that sticks up for the little guy, including the littlest guy of all, the child in the womb [Applause].’”
Having delivered himself of this well-considered prophecy in 1965, Rip Van Winkle goes down for his nap. When he wakes up and we tell him how the abortion issue finally sorted itself out between our two major parties, Rip says, “Huh? How could that have happened?”
An online exhibit recalls the New England tradition of Pope-Night:
In the mid-1700s, the 5th of November was one of Boston’s most popular holidays. On that day, apprentices and young men paraded through town with giant effigies of the Devil, the Pope, and current political scapegoats, demanding coins from householders and passersby.
At nightfall, Boston’s North End and South End gangs met in the middle of town and brawled. The winners hauled away the other side’s paraphernalia and burned all the effigies in a festive bonfire. In 1764 the event became so violent that a young boy was killed, his head crushed by a wagon wheel.
In the decade that followed, the 5th of November processions became closely linked to the town’s protests against Parliamentary taxes. That political conflict led to the American Revolution. Ironically, the Revolutionary War ended up doing away with the 5th of November holiday in America.
He is one of the bravest and most inspired of the Cuban political prisoners. He is a physician, an “Afro-Cuban,” a follower of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King. If he were a prisoner of anyone but Castro — a Communist dictator — he’d be world-famous. If he were a South African, under apartheid, he’d be on the stamps of virtually every country in the world.
Let me continue in this vein: If he were a prisoner under a right-wing dictatorship, he’d be featured on 60 Minutes every week. He’d be on the cover of Time magazine every week. College campuses would hold sit-ins. Biscet’s face would adorn posters and T-shirts. Etc., etc.
A picture of a phone-booth-sized cell, similar to the one in which Dr. Biscet is confined, accompanies Jeff Jacoby's tribute to "a hero in Castro's gulag."
My father was born and raised in Cuba, and he trained to be a medical doctor. Working in Castro's hospitals, he saw firsthand the regime's terrible policy of enforced abortions. He publicly objected to this practice, and lost his job and his license as a result. He went on to found an organization, the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights.
For his activism, my father has been punished severely by the Castro regime. He has spent almost a decade in prison, and is serving a 25-year sentence. He has been held in inhumane conditions, sometimes together with violent criminals, and at other times in isolation and total darkness for extended periods. He has lost more than 40 pounds as well as most of his teeth. His crime? Calling for respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Cuba.
For decades, various American journalists and celebrities have rhapsodized about Castro's supposed island paradise, resolutely ignoring the mountains of evidence that it is in reality a tropical dungeon. Intent on seeing Castro as a revolutionary hero and Cuba as Shangri-la, they avert their gaze from the island's genuine heroes - the prisoners of conscience like Biscet, who pay a fearful price for their insistence on telling the truth. #
...The bartender was pouring bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer into a glass pitcher. When it was nearly brimful he handed it to Mr. Tatum. The pianist raised the pitcher to his mouth; he tilted his head, opened his gullet. Down the hatch in three or four stupendous swallows. Several of us were just starting to drink—glasses of beer and ale, swigs of Four Roses in back of the garage. But this was man’s work. What I had heard was true: he drank like he played, lustily, prodigiously. It was an auspicious introduction.
We followed him upstairs to a semi-dark two-thirds-filled room. He eased onto the bench, arms loose at his sides, head cocked as if sniffing something in the air. Only when the rustle and conversational hum subsided did he lift his hands. It was not a leisurely entry, no ruminative chording or testing-the-water arpeggio work. The hands plunged. And the music shouted and poured, wide as a river...
I asked a respected classical pianist-composer and critic for one of the Boston papers if he had listened to Tatum, and if he had an opinion.
“There’s a demonic, almost diabolical quality to his playing,” he said. “The Furies must have gathered around his crib at birth, something infernal slipped into his mother’s milk.”
Driving to work yesterday I approached what appeared to be two very, very large crows eating a dead animal on the side of the road. As the birds flapped away their buzzard heads could be seen. Vultures! Audubon didn't find them in Massachusetts, but today you can. #