Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Death of the Old Year

The good things about this week are that we celebrate the birth of our baby Lord and King, and that the days are beginning to get longer.

The feasts of the Church remind us, though (as Jesus did), that following Him is not all fun and games, not by a long shot.

Saturday December 26 was the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr (called Protomartyr in the Byzantine Rite).

December 27, if not a Sunday, would have been the liturgy for St. John the Evangelist who, according to tradition, was the only apostle who did not meet a violent death; but I wonder sometimes if he got a little lonely in his old age, waiting to be reunited to those he loved.

December 28 is the feast of the Holy Innocents (which ought to remind us of modern-day Herods, as Dymphna has so well put it). What is it now? -- fifty million?

December 29 is the feast of St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered in his cathedral on December 29, 1170, by four knights of King Henry II -- Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Moreville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton. And the main reason St. Thomas was murdered was that he bravely and stoutly upheld the rights of the Church against that of the royal power. (Three cheers for the bishops and priests everywhere who do the same!)

Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die . . . .

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chutzpa Reexemplified

Says Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish: "Pronounced KHOOTS-pah; rattle that kh around with fervor; rhymes with "Foot spa." Do not pronounce the ch as in "choo-choo" or "Chippewa," but as the German ch in Ach! or the Scottish in loch. Hebrew: "insolence," "audacity."

"Gall, brazen nerve, effrontry, incredible "guts"; presumption-plus-arrogance such as no other word, and no other language, can do justice to.

"The classic definition of chutzpa is, of course, this:
Chutzpa is that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.

"A chutzpanik may be defined as the man who shouts "Help! Help!" while beating you up."

I offer a new example of chutzpa which - embodying both examples above - I call chutzpa-squared:

The building of a mosque at Ground Zero.
Source: World Net Daily, http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=119328

Belloc warned us!

In 1936, Hilaire Belloc published The Battleground - Syria and Palestine, and it was republished by Ignatius Press in 2008. In chapter XIV (pp. 237ff) he says:

Then there came, more suddenly than we can conceive and as unexpectedly as an earthquake, a cataclysm -- a tidal wave.

None had foreseen it. There were no preliminary symptoms. It broke at once, and submerged everything. The triumph of Heraclius was not half a dozen years old when there came riding rapidly out of the desert from the south that light cavalry of whom no man had heard anything save, vaguely, that there were such fellows, wandering about on horseback over the sands for centuries past, and they were of no effect -- chance nomads and marauders. These swept up between a night and a morning, one may say, out of the wilderness into the stable land, riding in from the places where there was no settled thing, nor verse nor column nor majestic court of law, not throne nor official -- and overthrew all these things.

. . .

It will never be explained; we can only say that it happened; but we know that there was behind them and filling them with fire, a religion -- "Islam" -- "the submission", "the acceptation"; almost the same idea as that which lies behind our Roman term, "The Faith". A chance enthusiast had preached, far off down the caravan road, half-way down the Arabian littoral to the east of the Red Sea, something which was not a new religion but yet another heresy, and which proved of greater power than any of the heresies as yet lit by the stirring of the Christian thing.

Mohammed was the man who started the flame, but Mohammed did not make a new religion -- remember that. He did not preach one. He preached a Reformation. He based his movement on certain fundamental doctrines of that Christian thing which had apparently conquered the Roman world, but he proposed a settlement of difficulties by denying the Incarnation.

. . .

There was this strange thing about the new heresy, that was to master and swallow up all the rest, that it did not arise within the body of the Church; it came from the very fringes and from without.

. . .

Mohammed's burning appeal was an appeal to simplicity the the relaxation of the intelligence; and to relaxation also of restraint over the appetites of man.

* * *

We now skip to Belloc's epilogue where he talks about his present day, 1935; pp. 274ff.

We have to consider first of all that which is at the basis of all historical sequence, Religion.

The two Western Powers now nominally masters of Syria and for the moment in possession of organised rule from the desert to the Mediterranean, have behind them no strength of religion. Their motive has been and remains in part the odd modern exaggeration of nationalism, much more greed -- the opportunity for economic advantage particularly in oil, that dominating modern necessity, which frames and underlines half our policy: oil, without which men cannot fly, or maintain navies, or travel by road.

That inmost thing, Religion, whereby a community lives, is absent from the new occupation of Syria and its governments. It is present in individuals, it is not present in policy.

Western rule, atrophied of religion, has to maintain itself in the face of hostile millions who, on their side, have not lost the religion which made them and by which they live. The French and English officials, the armed forces which obey them (and these are not numerous), stand isolated in the midst of a sea of Islam all around.

That same force which destroyed the Crusades is present in Syria today, and it is as active as ever. It is disarmed, or partly disarmed, on the material side; but spiritually it is sufficiently armed. Whether Islam throughout the Eastern world, from the Atlantic to the Ganges, will recover material equality with us of the West we cannot tell; but there is no rational basis for denying the possibility of that resurrection. . . .

. . .

[On Zionism:]

It has behind it what none of the other forces intruding upon the Syrian world can boast -- a strong moral motive, not technically religious, but having the force of a religion. The Jewish race as a whole, in spite of certain dissidents, and certainly the Jewish immigrants pouring into Palestine, are inspired by as strong a motive as can move men to action. But this strength alone would not maintain the Jews against the fierce hostility of the Moslem world which surrounds them. That hostility is another moral force with which the future cannot but be filled. We in the West do not appreciate it because we do not hear its expression, we are not witnesses of the gestures not partners in the conversations which fill the Near East; but if we ignore it we are ignoring something which may change our fate.

* * *

Belloc warned us. How many listened?

Today I saw online an article in World Net Daily, http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=119328 an article that left me spluttering furious.

Islamic mosque built at 9/11 Ground Zero
Muslim business leader: 'This has hand of the divine written over it'

And a couple of weeks ago there was an article in a local newspaper about Major Hasan, making all kinds of pathetic dumbass excuses for him. And at the time a neighbor of mine, a person who genuinely wants to like people, said, "I can't ever trust a Moslem again."

Me neither.

Friday, December 18, 2009


The earliest ecclesiastical novena of which we have record is the Christmas novena, which commemorates the nine months during which the Christ-child was carried in the womb of His Mother.
---Blessed be God; a complete Catholic Prayer Book, 1925. A gift from my grandmother to her sister Mary

SHEPHERD who rulest Israel, Thou who leadest Joseph like a sheep, come to guide and comfort us.

WISDOM, who comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

ADONAI and Ruler of the House of Israel, Who didst appear to Moses in the burning bush and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outsretched arm!

ROOT OF JESSE, who standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

KEY OF DAVID and Sceptre of the House of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

DAYSPRING, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

KING OF THE GENTILES, yea, and desire thereof! O Cornerstone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou has made out of the dust of the earth!

EMMANUEL, our King and our Lawgiver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

THOU that sittest upon the cherubim, God of hosts, come, show Thy face, and we shall be saved.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Democracy in America by G.K.C.

Again, from his book What I Saw in America

The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal.

There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man. That is a perfectly simple fact which the modern world will find out more and more to be a fact. Every other basis is a sort of sentimental confusion, full of merely verbal echoes of the older creeds. These verbal associations are always vain for the vital purpose of constraining the tyrant. An idealist may say to a capitalist, 'Don't you sometimes feel in the rich twilight, when the lights twinkle from the distant hamlet in the hills, that all humanity is a holy family?' But it is equally possible for the capitalist to reply with brevity and decision, 'No, I don't,' and there is no disputing about it further than about the beauty of a fading cloud. And the modern world of moods is a world of clouds, even if some of them are thunderclouds.

. . .

So far as that democracy becomes or remains Catholic and Christian, that democracy will remain democratic. In so far it does not, it will become wildly and wickedly undemocratic. Its rich will riot with a brutal indifference far beyond the feeble feudalism which retains some shadow of responsibility or at least of patronage. Its wage-slaves will either sink into heathen slavery, or seek relief in theories that are destructive not merely in method but in aim; since they are but the negation of the human appetites of property and personality. Eighteenth-century ideals, formulated in eighteenth-century language, have no longer in themselves the power to hold all those pagan passions back. Even those documents depend on Deism; their real strength will survive in men who are still Deists. And the men who are still Deists are more than Deists. Men will more and more realise that there is no meaning in democracy if there is no meaning in anything; and that there is no meaning in anything if the universe has not a centre of significance and an authority that is the author of our rights.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Also known as Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles, if I'm not mistaken.

I was thinking earlier this evening (if the imaginings of a fevered brain [yes, I have flu - I opened the window and influenza] can be called thinking) how fun it would be to watch the pro-illegal-Mexican liberals and the atheist or secularist liberals butting heads over the places in the USA named after saints, especially those places in the Southwest that were civilized by Spanish Franciscans. Willa Cather's book Death Comes for the Archbishop mentions that Spanish California (remember "Zorro" on Disneyland or Mickey Mouse Club?) was once part of the Diocese of Mexico City.

Think of all the place names that would be fought over: Los Angeles = the Angels (see above); San Francisco = St. Francis; San Luis Rey [de Francia] = St. Louis [IX] King of France; San Mateo = St. Matthew; Santa Barbara; Sacramento = Sacrament; San Diego = St. James; San Bernardino = St. Bernard; Santa Maria; San Luis Obispo; Santa Monica . . .

San Manuel, San Pedro River, San Carlos Reservoir, AZ; Sangre del Cristo = Blood of Christ Mtn. Range, CO & NM, San Juan Mtn. Range, also CO & NM; Magdalena = Mary Magdalen; Las Cruces = the Crosses; San Marcial = St. Martial (maybe the first bishop of Limoges, d. ca. 250); Santa Fe = Holy Faith, all in NM . . .

Just in my home state of Minnesota, the capital is St. Paul, named so because the first church put up, in what is now the city, was named for the Apostle to the Gentiles. (The oldest church in continuous use in Minnesota is St. Peter in Mendota.) Most of the Catholic names in Minnesota are of French origin, naturally, including Sault Saint-Antoine de Padue = Falls of Saint Anthony of Padua, "The Waterfall That Built a City," according to Lucile Kane of the Minnesota Historical Society and author of the book of that name.

My older brother, certainly no believer, once caustically noted that the main difference, between groups of white people who settled this land in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, was that the French and Spanish Catholics saw the Indians as human souls to be converted, whereas the English, Dutch, and Swedish Protestants saw them as heathen savages to be exiled or exterminated.

This nation owes a great deal to its Catholics. It's time we demanded the respect we deserve.

PS -- thanks to Kat for the image and a great post!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, . . .
Holy Virgin of virgins, . . .
Mother of Christ, . . .
Mother of divine grace, . . .
Mother most pure, . . .
Mother most chaste, . . .
Mother inviolate, . . .
Mother undefiled, . . .
Mother most amiable, . . .
Mother most admirable, . . .
Mother of Good Counsel, . . .
Mother of our Creator, . . .
Mother of our Savior, . . .

Virgin most prudent, . . .
Virgin most venerable, . . .
Virgin most renowned, . . .
Virgin most powerful, . . .
Virgin most merciful, . . .
Virgin most faithful, . . .

Mirror of justice, . . .
Seat of Wisdom, . . .
Cause of our joy, . . .
Spiritual vessel, . . .
Vessel of honor, . . .
Singular vessel of devotion, . . .
Mystical rose, . . .
Tower of David, . . .
Tower of ivory, . . .
House of gold, . . .
Ark of the covenant, . . .
Gate of heaven, . . .
Morning star, . . .
Health of the sick, . . .
Refuge of sinners, . . .
Comforter of the afflicted, . . .
Help of Christians, . . .

Queen of Angels, . . .
Queen of Patriarchs, . . .
Queen of Prophets, . . .
Queen of Apostles, . . .
Queen of Martyrs, . . .
Queen of Confessors, . . .
Queen of Virgins, . . .
Queen of all Saints, . . .
Queen conceived without original sin, . . .
Queen of the most holy Rosary, . . .
Queen of Peace, . . .

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,

spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,

graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
That we may be made morthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Grant, O Lord God, we beseech Thee, that we Thy servants may rejoice in continual health of mind and body; and through the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, be freed from present sorrow, and enjoy eternal gladness. Through Christ our Lord.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Remember Pearl Harbor!

My dad and mom were three months married on December 7, 1941, and probably never had a carefree moment for the next four and a half years. And neither did most of the young folks of their generation. On top of the Great Depression, mind you. Both Pop and Mom told me that they were considered lucky to have fathers who worked steady throughout the Depression; Grandpop W. was a plumber; Grandpop G. was a printer.

I was born during the War, grew up in its aftermath, when America was America and the Church was the Church. In 1958 Minnesota celebrated its centennial of statehood, I graduated from grade school, Pius XII had "always" been Pope, Eisenhower had "always" been President. It was a good time to be young and growing up.

I don't know for sure how all that disappeared, and turned into what we have today (The Heresy Hunter has a superb posting on it) but I do know for sure that in general, we are complacent, fat, lazy, and we literally don't know how good we've got it.

We're ripe for another Pearl Harbor or 9-11, and we have no excuse not to know where it's going to come from.

Happy as a clam

I've been using the phrase for years, and wondering - just as long - why clams should be considered happy. After much searching and pondering, I have come up with the answer: clams have never known de feet.

(Johnny Hart notwithstanding)

Nyuk nyuk nyuk . . . . .

Friday, December 4, 2009

All that good PC stuff

In the interests of Cultral Awareness, Cultural Sensitivity, Diversity, and just plain being a real nice guy, I installed a Middle-Eastern type toilet fixture in my bathroom. So far it is not a complete success, but I aim to do better.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Two new book reviews coming

When I get done with Chesterton's views on America, I am going to talk about two other books: The Bridge at Andau by James Michener, about the Hungarian uprising of 1956; and Battleground by Hilaire Belloc, a history of Syria and Palestine (written 1935) which has some very interesting comments about Islam.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More about America by GKC

. . . that compromise will be a Servile State. But it will also be the supreme and by far the most constructive and conclusive result of the industrial movement in history; of the power of machinery or money; of the huge populations of the modern cities; of scientific inventions and resources; of all the things before which the agricultural society of the Southern Confederacy went down. But even those who cannot see that commercialism may end in the triumph of slavery can see that the Northern victory has to a great extent ended in the triumph of commercialism. And the point at the moment is that this did definitely mean, even at the time, the triumph of one American type over another American type. . .

* * *

One type of American state conquered and subjugated another type of American state; and the virtues and values of the latter were very largely lost to the world.

* * *

The Old South had qualities of humane civilisation which have not sufficiently survived; or at any rate have not sufficiently spread. It is true that the decline of the agricultural South has been considerably balanced by the growth of the agricultural West. It is true, as I have occasion to emphasise in another place, that the West does give the New America something that is neraly a normal peasantry, as a pendant to the industrial towns. . . . In so far as America is saved it is saved by being patchy; and would be ruined if the Western patch had the same fate as the Southern patch. When all is said, therefore, the advantages of American unification are not so certain that we can apply them to a world unification.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nothing serious

With my midnight meds, I usually have a midnight snack, something starchy and a banana. Also in my fridge I have a couple pounds of miniature chocolate bars that I bought for Hallowe'en and never gave away because there was far less demand than I thought there would be.

So I just have to eat up all these little chocolate bars before they get stale.

All those who feel sorry for me, raise your hands.

Hmmmm . . . . I didn't think so.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More G.K.C. in America

Presidents and Problems

"All good Americans wish to fight the representatives they have chosen. All good Englishmen wish to forget the representatives they have chosen. This difference, deep and perhaps ineradicable in the temperaments of the two peoples, explains a thousand things in their literature and their laws.
. . .
"For this is especially the secret of the monarch or chief magistrate in the two countries. They arm the President with the powers of a King, that he may be a nuisance in politics. We deprive the King even of the powers of a President, lest he should remind us of a politician.
. . .
"The American Republic is the last medieval monarchy. It is intended that the President shall rule, and take all the risks of ruling. . . . All the popular Presidents, Jackson and Lincoln and [Theodore] Roosevelt, have acted as democratic despots, but emphatically not as constitutional monarchs. In short, the names have been curiously interchanged; and as a historical reality it is the President who ought to be called a King."

Isn't it interesting how well the present occupant of the White House fits this description?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints and All Souls

After my dad died in 2002, following (I hope and pray) my mom to God's hands, I had a dream.

I was walking arm in arm with my five brothers and sisters on a very wide road through gently rolling countryside on a mild day in the summer. My older brother's daughters and grandchildren were behind him, one sister's sons were behind her, another sister's three children were behind her. Cousins were spread out to the right and left of us . . . but there was no one in front of us anymore.

"The souls of the just are in the hands of God, and no misfortune shall befall them . . . ." (from memory). Pray for them anyway. Praying for the souls of my dad and mom and all who have gone before me is one way of honoring them. The fourth commandment doesn't end with our parents' deaths.

More about America by GKC

. . . I found myself before a faded picture [in a hotel in Nashville]; and from the dark canvas looked forth the face of Andrew Jackson, watchful like a white eagle.

. . . Most Englishmen know a good deal of American fiction, and nothing whatever of American history. They know more about the autocrat of the breakfast-table than about the autocrat of the army and of the people, the one great democratic despot of modern times; the Napoleon of the New World. The only notion the English public ever got about American politics they got from a novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin; and to say the least of it, it was no exception to the prevalence of fiction over fact. Hundreds of us have heard of Tom Sawyer for one who had heard of Charles Sumner; and it is probable that most of us could pass a more detailed examination about Toddy and Budge than about Lincoln and Lee. But in the case of Andrew Jackson it may be that I felt a special sense of individual isolation; for I believe that there are even fewer among Englishmen than among Americans who realise that the energy of that great man was largely directed towards saving us from the chief evil which destroys the nations to-day. He sought to cut down, as with a sword of simplicity, the new and nameless enormity of finance; and he must have known, as by a lightning flash, that the people were behind him, because all the politicians were against him. The end of the struggle is not yet; but if the bank is stronger than the sword or the sceptre of popular sovereignty, the end will be the end of democracy. It will have to choose between accepting an acknowledged dictator and accepting dictation which it dare not acknowledge. The process will have begun by giving power to people and refusing to give them their titles; and it will have ended by giving the power to people who refuse to give us their names.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"What I Saw in America" by G. K. C.

This is from his book published in 1922 by Dodd, Mead & Co., NYC.

Only a very soft-headed, sentimental and rather servile generation of men could possibly be affected by advertisements at all. People who are a little more hard-headed, humorous, and intellectually independent, see the rather simple joke; and are not impressed by this or any other form of self-praise. Almost any other men in almost any other age would have seen the joke. If you had said to a man in the Stone Age, 'Ugg says Ugg makes the best stone hatchets,' he would have perceived a lack of detachment and disinterestedness about the testimonial. If you had said to a medieval peasant, 'Robert the Bowyer proclaims, with three blasts of a horn, that he makes good bows,' the peasant would have said, 'Well, of course he does,' and thought about something more important. It is only among people whose minds have been weakened by a sort of mesmerism that so transparent a trick as that of advertisement could ever have been tried at all. And if ever we have again, as for other reasons I cannot but hope we shall, a more democratic distribution of property and a more agricultural basis of national life, it would seem at first sight only too likely that all this beautiful superstition will perish, and the fairyland of Broadway with all its varied rainbows fade away. For such people the Seventh Heaven Cigar, like the nineteenth-century city, will have ended in smoke. And even the smoke of it will have vanished.

--- There will be more. ---

I have a replica 1908 Sears catalog and -- surprise, surprise! -- the text actually tells something about the products. Nowadays they sell a fantasy of how glorious my life will be with the product and how dismal without it. It's a shell game. A plague on all their houses.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

LOL means Land o' Lakes or Laugh Out Loud

I made up this little parody to commemorate Fr. Jenkins' sterling achievements.

Jeer, jeer at old Notre Dame!
Dissing Our Lady, shouldn't have her name!
Make your protests long and loud,
Do not be one of the P C crowd!
Heresy, schism, big one or small,
Old Notre Shame is guilty of all,
While her sheeple bleat and climb
On bandwagon "Barry-O" !
(Yuk, yuk, yuk!)
-- repeat ad libitum --

Monday, October 19, 2009

Discipleship means Suffering

The Gospel reading yesterday was Mark 10: 35-45.

Zebedee's sons, James and John, approached him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to grant our request." "What is it?" he asked. They replied, "See to it that we sit, one at your right and the other at your left, when you come into your glory." Jesus told them, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup I shall drink or be baptized in the same bath of pain as I?" "We can," they told him. Jesus said in response, "From the cup I drink of you shall drink; the bath I am immersed in you shall share. But as for sitting at my right or my left, that is not mine to give; it is for those to whom it has been reserved." The other ten, on hearing this, became indignant at James and John. Jesus called them together and said to them: "You know how among the Gentiles those who seem to exercise authority lord it over them; their great ones make their importance felt. It cannot be like that with you. Anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest; whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all. The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve -- to give his life in ransom for the many."

Father gave an excellent homily on this, stressing that discipleship costs, that following Jesus is not going to be easy, that preaching the Gospel will not bring fame or riches but rather infamy, ignominy, and suffering. He talked a bit about worldly power and how it is exercised, and closed his homily by slowly and distinctly repeating:

"It cannot be like that with you."

During and after the homily I had a few random thoughts:

1, I'm more grateful than I can say that I never had to exercise power over anyone.

2, I wonder if the CINO's in the present administration paid heed to this reading.

3, John was the only Apostle to die a natural death, and I wonder if it bothered him to wait so long to be reunited.

3, Even though the etymologies are very different, why do "martyred" and "murdered" sound so much alike?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Latin

This is a follow-up to the post today of Vir Speluncae Catholicus. It is especially timely because Tuesday was the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima in 1917, and today is the 95th anniversary of my Mom's birth; she was called home on the night of August 18-19, 1999; may she rest in peace.

Kyrie, eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exaudi nos.
Pater de cælis, Deus, miserere nobis.
Fili, Redemptor mundi, miserere nobis.
Spiritus Sancte, Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, miserere nobis.

Sancta Maria,
ora pro nobis.
Sancta Dei Genitrix,
Sancta Virgo virginum,
Mater Christi,
Mater divinæ gratiæ,
Mater purissima,
Mater castissima,
Mater inviolata,
Mater intemerata,
Mater amabilis,
Mater admirabilis,
Mater boni consilii,
Mater Creatoris,
Mater Salvatoris,
Virgo prudentissima,
Virgo veneranda,
Virgo prædicanda,
Virgo potens,
Virgo clemens,
Virgo fidelis,
Speculum justitiæ,
Sedes sapientiæ,
Causa nostra lætitiæ,
Vas spirituale,
Vas honorabile,
Vas insigne devotionis,
Rosa mystica,
Turris Davidica,
Turris eburnea,
Domus aurea,
Fœderis arca,
Janua cæli,
Stella matutina,
Salus infirmorum,
Refugium peccatorum,
Consolatrix afflictorum,
Auxilium Christianorum,
Regina Angelorum,
Regina Patriarcharum,
Regina Prophetarum,
Regina Apostolorum,
Regina Martyrum,
Regina Confessorum,
Regina Virginum,
Regina Sanctorum omnium,
Regina sine labe originali concepta,
Regina sacratissimi Rosarii,
Regina pacis,

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

V. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.


Concede nos famulus tuos, quæsumus, Domine Deus,
perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere:
et gloriosa beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione,
a præsenti liberari tristitia, et æterna perfrui lætitia.
Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Now it's Father Z's turn, to explain for us the beauty in the Latin.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happiness is . . .

10, your computer actually works;
9, you don't have to do any housework today;
8, the 12" of snow to shovel is light and fluffy;
7, your car starting when it's -20 (or worse);
6, good neighbors;
5, nothing's going wrong with the plumbing (furnace, etc);
4, having all the bills paid and something left over;
3, a full fridge;
2, having time for spiritual reading;
-- and--
1, Confession, Mass, and Communion!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Be Very Afraid

Last night -- or rather in the wee hours of this morning -- I reread George Orwell's book Animal Farm for about the fourth time since high school; and all I can say is:
It's eerily prophetic.

I add that Orwell also wrote 1984 which I haven't read for many years (of which more below) and could have (should have) penned an essay for the book The God That Failed, which contains an essay by Arthur Koestler about Soviet Communism. Koestler also wrote a novel Darkness at Noon about the Soviet system, which ranks up there with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. If your taste runs to hefty tomes, read The Gulag Archipelago, all three volumes. I have read it three times.
Re 1984: the Ruler is called "Big Brother," which in Russian is "Veliky Brat,'" which is how Russia referred to itself vis-à-vis Ukraine. And we know - or definitely should! - how Russia treated Ukraine, both under the Tsars and the Soviets.

This stuff should make the average American very afraid for our country.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I have started a new category called "You got to be kidding!" or "You can't make this (insert s-word of choice) up!"

This has been prompted by the news that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. Looks like it's now become the best award that money can buy.
I was going to post a picture I made up, but it could be construed as libelous, so I'll leave it to your imagination.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chanson d'automne

Les sanglots longs
des violons de l'automne
blessent mon cœur
d'une langueur monotone

The long sobs
Of the violins of autumn
Wound my heart
With a monotonous langour.
--- Paul Verlaine

(This poem was used by Radio London to alert the French Resistance to the imminence of the D-day invasion; the second couplet was a signal that the invasion would commence within 24 hours.)

I was talking to a French-Canadian friend on the phone last night, and she and I agreed that one of the best things about middle age and beginning to be old, is that the goal is in sight. I think Chesterton called it "the inn at the end of the road," and he did write this:

Lo! I am come to autumn,
When all the leaves are gold;
Grey hairs and golden leaves cry out
The year and I are old.

Reminds me too of St. Paul's thought that "I have run the race."
One of the most important points of Catholic Christianity is that we do not belong here; we were made for Heaven, and this life is only a short eye-blink of preparation for the real thing. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered the mind of man, what things God has prepared for those who love Him."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Strange Mixup

Warning: tacky bad puns ahead.

If some North American caribou met some European reindeer, and the males went for the males and the females for the females, then it would be a rein-bou coalition, and they would really cari, deer.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Connecting Some Ideas

I was just reading Alan Keyes' essay on the 80/20 fallacy (for which see his blog http://loyaltoliberty.blogspot.com/) and a few things occurred to me.

One is that some prominent Churchman (may have been Benedict) recently wrote on the philosophical error of confusing quantity and quality. The effect of this in the practical and political spheres is that people are regarded as interchangeable units. The origin of the error is a denial of the sacred unique-ness of each human person, and further back than that, a denial of God the Creator.

G. K. Chesterton wrote his great work The Everlasting Man to demonstrate that Man differs from the brute animals not in degree but in kind. (And I don't care what "scientists" say about the similarity of human and chimp DNA.) Chesterton said: "So stands the Red Clay against the green field of nature, or the White Christ against the red clay of his race."

Now the 80/20 rule, which I learned in my statistics classes, is often called "Pareto's Law" or "The Pareto Principle," and it says basically that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It's really just an empirical rule of thumb, and the number doesn't have to be 80 -- just somewhere between 50 and 99 -- but it applies in a lot of real word cases in statistics.

My take on Pareto's Principle tonight is that 85% of the BS in this country today comes from 15% of the population. And I hope you know who I think they are: the Usual Suspects on the Left, led by our Great Leader.

And when I thought of Pareto's Principle, I thought of Parkinson's Law -- "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." This book (published 1957) explains why our federal bureaucracy is growing like lawn fungus after a rainstorm.

And then I thought of the Peter Principle -- "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." And we have now seen the principle demonstrated in a manner which can hardly be excelled . . . or should that be worsened?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cussing online

There are two good, that is, relatively inoffensive, ways to cuss online:

The first and simpler is to use a bunch of hyphens, perhaps with an exclamation point, for instance:

"What did you think of that --------- Obama's speech last night?"
"What did I think? -----------------!!"

The second method is to hold down the shift key and run your thumb over the numbers from two to eight; an exclamation point can be added for emphasis, for instance:

"That @#$%^&* car I bought is nothing but a @#$%^&* lemon!!"

The beauty of this is that it leaves the actual word or words up to the reader's imagination, which will come up with better (worse?) words than you could. Plus your readers can't accuse you of being offensive or dirty-minded, because they're filling in the blanks, not you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A little poem for ACORN

Don't worry if they've caught you out, you're finished, done, and through.
Remember that the mighty oak was once a nut like you.

Just Plain Dumb

Doctor: Mr. Jones, how do you think you got so sick?
Jones: I opened the window and influenza.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, how did you get out of the Middle East?
Ambassador: I ran.

Teacher: Why is it improper to say "I et"?
Johnny: Because I ain't et yet.
Teacher: Johnny, your grammar is atrocious.
Johnny: No she ain't, teacher, she's a real nice old lady.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The three biggest lies in the world --

-- used to be:

"The check is in the mail"

"We're working on it"

"I'll still respect you in the morning."

Now we add at least one more:

"Islam is a religion of peace."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Heyy! Lookit my Owie!

Ain'tcha glad it ain't the next finger?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

September 6

Today would be my parents' 68th wedding anniversary. They were married in 1941, while the Great Depression wasn't really over, and WW II was raging but hadn't hit us quite yet. This picture is from Fathers' Day 1999, and I believe it's the last one ever taken of them together. Mom died during the night of August 18-19, 1999; Pop died about 7:45 pm on Oct. 23, 2002. May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jeanne d'Arc outwits Bishop Pierre Cauchon

This is a post I sent to the e-mail forum of the International Joan of Arc Society today about one of the first days of Jeanne's trial, February 21, 1431.

Hi, everybody,

In Régine Pernoud's book Joan of Arc By Herself and Her Witnesses, Edward Hyams, tr. (New York: Stein and Day, 1966, 1969; pp. 180-181) we find this for February 21, 1431:

Cauchon: Recite Pater Noster and Ave Maria.

Joan: I will say them willingly provided you hear my confession.

Cauchon, as may be imagined, dodged this request for, had he granted it, as a priest it would have put him in a very awkward situation. If he heard Joan's confession he would, thereafter, be prevented on his soul and conscience from declaring her guilty; on the other hand to refuse to hear her confession was to avoid doing his sacerdotal duty. The minutes of the trial mention that the bishop was obliged to admonish her "several times" and that in the end he adopted a compromise solution.

Cauchon: Willingly will we order appointed for you one or two notable men who speak French to whom you can say Pater Noster.

Joan: I shall not say it to them if they will not hear me in confession.

They were forced to drop the point and move on to the next subject.

- - - - -

Now my take on this is as follows: Both Jeanne and Cauchon knew that the seal of confession is part of the nature of the sacrament of holy orders, and that a priest who reveals anything -- in any way at all -- of what was said in a confession is subject to excommunication. So if Cauchon heard Jeanne's confession he would have had to remove himself from the position of judge.

He was not willing to do this, because -- it must be remembered -- Cauchon was pro-English in sympathy, he believed that the Treaty of Troyes was a valid and legitimate treaty, and he believed (sincerely, I'm willing to grant) that like others of the English party, that Jeanne was a sorceress and a "limb of the Fiend."

So I think Jeanne was using her native wit and canniness to put Cauchon on the spot. The court meant to condemn and imprison or execute her, she knew it, and Cauchon knew she knew it.

Best to all,

PS -- for us pedants, here's the relevant extract from the Latin record (Procès de condamnation et de réhabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc dite La Pucelle, Tome I; Jules Quicherat. Paris: Jules Renard et Cie., M.DCCC.XLI -- Facsimile by Johnson Reprint Corporation, New York City, 1965; p. 47):

Item, requisita per nos quod diceret Pater Noster : respondit quod audiremus eam in confessione et ipsa nobis diceret libenter. Cumque iterum pluries super hoc requirertemus eam : respondit quod non diceret Pater noster, etc., nisi eam audiremus in confessione. Tunc autem diximus, quod libenter sibi traderemus unum aut duos notabiles viros de lingua gallicana, coram quibus ipsa diceret Pater noster, etc. Ad quod respondit ipsa Johanna quod non diceret eis, nisi eam audirent in confessione.

PPS -- for the superpedantic like me, here's the relevant extract from the original French minutes (La minute Française des interrogatoires de Jeanne la Pucelle, d'après le Réquisitoire de Jean d'Estivet et les manuscrits de d'Urfé et d'Orléans, par le P. Paul Doncoeur. Melun: Librairie d'Argences, MCM.LII, p. 89:

Requise qu'elle dist Pater Noster et Ave Maria,

Respond qu'elle la dira voluntiers, pourveu que monseigneur l'evesque de Beauvoys, qui estoit present, la vouldroit oyr de confession. Et, combien qu'elle fust plusieurs foys requise de dire Pater nostre et Ave Maria, elle respondit qu'elle ne le diroit point, se ledit evesque ne l'ouoyt de confession.

Et adoncq ledit evesque dist : Je vous ordonneray ung ou deux notables personnaiges de ceste compagnie ausquelz vous direz: Pater Noster et Ave Maria.

A quoy elle respondit : Je ne le diray point, se ilz ne me oyent de confession.

You may well ask: "So what?"

My answer is if you're studying history (of now or of 600 years ago), make sure you go back to the primary sources, and still remember that they have to be carefully interpreted. In other words, don't believe everything uncritically.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kennedy Funeral

I'm disgusted but not surprised.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ricardus III Anglorum Rex Requiescat in Pace

". . . King Richard left Nottingham and marched to Leicester, arriving there on the 19th of August. Here he gathered his army. Two days later he marched out to meet Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field on the 22nd of August. Here he fought his last battle, supported by the Duke of Norfolk, who was killed, but betrayed by Thomas Lord Stanley and his brother Sir William Stanley, whose sudden switch to Tudor's side at a crucial moment lost Richard the battle and his life." (Richard III; The Road to Bosworth Field, P. W. Hammond and Anne F. Sutton. London: Constable, 1985; p. 214)

"The York City Council had (slightly inaccurate) reports of the battle on the day after it was fought. In their own Minutes they provided Richard III with a lasting epitaph.

"On the 22nd day of August Anno Domini 1485 at Redemore near Leicester there was fought a battle between our Lord King Richard III and others of his nobles on the one part, and Harry Earl of Richmond and others of his followers on the other part. In this battle the foresaid King Richard in the third year of his reign, John Duke of Northfolc . . . .

"Tuesday the vigil of St. Batholomew,
that is 23rd August in the year etc., the throne being vacant
We assembled in the counsaill chamber, where and when it was shewed by diverse persones and especially by John Sponer send unto the feld of Redemore to bring tidinges from the same to the citie that king Richard late mercifully reigning upon us was thrugh grete treason . . . piteously slane and murdred to the grete hevynesse of this citie . . . ." (op cit., p.223)

One interesting thing about this 524-year-old story is that Lord Stanley was married to Margaret Beaufort, who was -- Henry Tudor's mother.

Another is that Shakespeare's "Richard Crookback" was written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who happened to be -- Henry Tudor's granddaughter.

A third is that had Richard won the battle, there very probably would have been no Henry VII or Henry VIII, thus no split of the Church in England from Rome.

And a fourth, which ought to surprise no one, is that this kind of lying and character-blackening goes on even today.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

G.K.C. on the early Church

These quotes are from The Everlasting Man and I think we need to remember them these days, when the Usual Suspects are talking about umbrellas, big tents, inclusivity, common ground, and so on. (Emphases are mine.)

The life of the great civilisation [Rome] went on with dreary industry and even with dreary festivity. It was the end of the world, and the worst of it was that it need never end. A convenient compromise had been made between all the multitudinous myths and religions of the Empire; that each group should worship freely and merely give a sort of official flourish of thanks to the tolerant Emperor, by tossing a little incense to him under his official title of Divus. Naturally there was no difficulty about that; or rather it was a long time before the world realised that there ever had been a trivial difficulty anywhere. The members of some Eastern sect or secret society or other seems to have made a scene somewhere; nobody could inagine why. The incident occurred once or twice again and began to arouse irritation out of proportion to its insignificance. It was not exactly what these provincials said; though of course it sounded queer enough. They seemed to be saying that God was dead and that they themselves had seen him die. This might be one of the many manias produced by the despair of the age; only they did not seem particularly despairing. They seemed quite unnaturally joyful about it, and gave the reason that the death of God had allowed them to eat him and drink his blood. According to other accounts God was not exactly dead after all; there trailed through the bewildered imagination some sort of fantastic procession of the funeral of God, at which the sun turned black, but which ended with the dead omnipotence breaking out of the tomb and rising again like the sun. But it was not the strange story to which anyone paid any particular attention; people in that world had seen queer religions enough to fill a madhouse. It was something in the tone of the madmen and their type of formation. They were a scratch company of barbarians and slaves and poor and unimportant people; but their formation was military; they moved together and were very absolute about who and what was part of their little system; and about what they said, however mildly, there was a ring like iron. Men used to many mythologies and moralities could make no analysis of the mystery, except the curious conjecture that they meant what they said. All attempts to make them see reason in the perfectly simple matter of the Emperor's statue seemed to be spoken to deaf men. It was as if a new meteoric metal had fallen on the earth; it was a difference of substance to the touch. Those who touched their foundation facied they had struck a rock.

With a strange rapidity, like the changes of a dream, the proportions of things seemed to change in their presence. Before most men knew what had happened, these few men were palpably present. They were important enough to be ignored. People became suddenly silent about them and walked stiffly past them. We see a new scene, in which the world has drawn its skirts away from these men and women and they stand in the centre of a great space like lepers. The scene changes again and the great space where they stand is overhung on every side with a cloud of witnesses, interminable terraces full of faces looking down towards them intently; for strange things are happening to them. New tortures have been invented for the madmen who brought good news. That sad and weary society seems almost to find a new energy in establishing its first religious persecution. Nobody yet knows very clearly why that level world has thus lost its balance about the people in its midst; but they stand unnaturally still while the arena and the world seem to revolve around them. And there shone on them in that dark hour a light that has never been darkened; a white fire clinging to that group like an unearthly phosphorescence, blazing its track through the twilights of history and confounding every effort to confound it with the mists of mythology and theory; that shaft of light or lightening by which the world itself has struck and isolated and crowned it; by which its enemies have made it more illustrious and its own critics have made it more inexplicable; the halo of hatred around the Church of God.

(Doubleday Image Books edition, 1955, pp. 164-166)

It is the same with all the modern attempts at Syncretism. They are never able to make something larger than the Creed without leaving something out. I do not mean leaving out something divine but something human; the flag or the inn or the boy's tale of battle or the hedge at the end of the field. The Theosophists build a pantheon; but it is only a pantheon for pantheists. They call a Parliament of Religions as a reunion of all the peoples; but it is only a reunion of all the prigs. Yet exactly such a pantheon had been set up two thousand years before by the shores of the Mediterranean; and Christians were invited to set up the image of Jesus side by side with the image of Jupiter, of Mithras, of Osiris, of Atys, or of Ammon. It was the refusal of the Christians that was the turning-point of history. If the Christians had accepted, they and the whole world would have certainly, in a grotesque but exact metaphor, gone to pot. They would all have been boiled down to one lukewarm liquid in that great pot of cosmopolitan corruption in which all the other myths and mysteries were already melting. It was an awful and an appalling escape. Nobody understands the nature of the Church, or the ringing note of the creed descending from antiquity, who does not realize that the whole world once nearly died of broad-mindedness and the brotherhood of all religions.

(Pp. 176-177)

We have already noted that this paradox appeared also in the treatment of the early Church. It was important while it was still insignificant, and certainly while it was still impotent. It was important solely because it was intolerable; and in that sense it was true to say that it was intolerable because it was intolerant. It was resented, because, in its own still and almost secret way, it had declared war. It had risen out of the ground to wreck the heaven and earth of heathenism. It did not try to destroy that creation of gold and marble; but it contemplated a world without it. It dared to look right through it as though the gold and marble had been glass.

(Pp. 180-181)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Attila the Hun

Just the other night I was rereading Dr. Wess Roberts' book Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, which was published in 1989, and which makes for interesting reading in these times, such as where Attila links authority with responsibility, or remarks that the first goal for every Hun chieftain is the good of the nation.

It is a historical fact that Attila was all set to invade and sack Rome about AD 452, and was met one-to-one by Pope Leo I. What was said between them is lost to history, but Attila did turn back.

The punch line is the one leadership rule Dr. Roberts didn't make explicit:

When the Pope talks, obey him!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Great Stuff from G.K.C.

This is from "The Suicide of Thought" in Orthodoxy; I still have the copy I bought about 1964 (The next copy I buy I'll just underline everything). Here it is:

This last attempt to evade intellectualism ends in intellectualism, and therefore in death. The sortie has failed. The wild worship of lawlessness and the materialist worship of law end in the same void, Nietzsche scales staggering mountains, but he turns up ultimately in Tibet. He sits down beside Tolstoy in the land of nothing and Nirvâna. They are both helpless -- one because he must not grasp anything, and the other because he must not let go of anything. The Tolstoyan's will is frozen by a Buddhist instinct that all special actions are evil. But the Nietzscheite's will is quite equally frozen by his view that all special actions are good; for if all special actions are good, none of them are special. They stand at the cross-roads, and one hates all the roads, and the other likes all the roads. The result is -- well, some things are not hard to calculate. They stand at the cross-roads.

* * *

. . . I can see the inevitable smash of the philosophies of Schopenhauer and Tolstoy, Nietzsche and Shaw, as clearly as an inevitable railroad smash could be seen from a balloon. They are all on the road to the emptiness of the asylum. For madness may be defined as using mental activity so as to reach mental helplessness, and they have nearly reached it. He who thinks he is made of glass, thinks to the destruction of thought; for glass cannot think. So he who wills to reject nothing, wills the destruction of will; for will is not only the choice of something, but the rejection of almost everything. And as I turn and tumble over the clever, wonderful, tiresome, and useless modern books, the title of one of them rivets my eye. It is called "Jeanne d'Arc" by Anatole France. I have only glanced at it, but a glance was enough to remind me of Renan's "Vie de Jésus." It has the same strange method of the reverent sceptic. It discredits supernatural stories that have some foundation, simply by telling natural stories that have no foundation. Because we cannot believe in what a saint did, we are to pretend that we know exactly what he felt. But I do not mention either book in order to criticise it, but because the accidental combination of the names called up two startling images of sanity which blasted all the books before me. Joan of Arc was not stuck at the cross-roads, either by rejecting all the paths like Tolstoy, or by accepting them all like Nietzsche. She chose a path, and went down it like a thunderbolt. Yet Joan, when I came to think of her, had in her all that was true either in Tolstoy or Nietzsche, all that was even tolerable in either of them. I thought of all that is noble in Tolstoy, the pleasure in plain things, especially in plain pity, the actualities of the earth, the reverence for the poor, the dignity of the bowed back. Joan of Arc had all that and with this great addition, that she endured poverty as well as admiring it; whereas Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find out its secret. And then I thought of all that is brave and proud and pathetic in poor Nietzsche, and his mutiny against the emptiness and timidity of our time. I thought of his cry for the ecstatic equilibrium of danger, his hunger for the rush of great horses, his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that, and again with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought. We know that she was not afraid of an army, while Nietzsche, for all we know, was afraid of a cow. Tolstoy only praised the peasant; she was the peasant. Nietzsche only praised the warrior; she was the warrior. She beat them both at their own antagonistic ideals; she was more gentle than the one, more violent than the other. Yet she was a perfectly practical person who did something, while they are wild speculators who do nothing. It was impossible that the thought should not cross my mind that she and her faith had perhaps some secret of moral unity and utility that has been lost. And with that thought came a larger one, and the colossal figure of her Master had also crossed the theatre of my thoughts.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

August 6

On this day in 1945, when I was two years, one month, and twenty-seven days old -- counting from probable date of conception, of course -- Hiroshima was hit by the first atomic bomb used in warfare.

On this day in 2009, Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Same Shit Different Enemy

Here are a quote or two from a novel published in 1940, when America was hotly debating whether or not to get into the War, and the German-American Bund (Nazis by another name) had a lot of influence here and there. The first speaker is Newt Haskins, Sheriff of Dade County:

"Son," he remarked, "it's always been a policy of the law in this country to let bad little boys alone when they want to play. We let these bunches o' tin soldiers march an' drill around in our peaceful country, an' wave their swastikas, an' Heil Hitler, and make the goddamdest dirty cracks about democracy, on account of it's the policy of democracy to let everyone shout his own opinions, even when it's his opinion that nobody who don't agree with him ought to be allowed even to whisper what he thinks. We let 'em tear hell out of the Constitootion on account of the Constitootion says anybody can tear anything out of it he wants to. We let 'em use all the freedom that the founders of this country gave their lives to give us, to try an' take that freedom away. We're so plumb scared of gettin' accused o' bein' the same as they are that we even let 'em train an' arm a private army to put over their ideas, rather 'n give 'em the chance to say we denied them the liberty they want to take away from us. That's why we're the greatest country in the world, an' everybody else laughs 'emselves sick lookin' at us."

The second speaker is a young European woman railing at the hero of the story:

"For three months I've let myself be pawed by Randolph March and leered at by Heinrich Friede. I've pretended to sympathise with a philosophy that stinks to high heaven. I've let myself gloat over the invasion of peaceful countries and the bombing of helpless women and children and the enslaving of one nation after another. I've made myself laugh at the slaughter of my own people and the plundering of Jews and the torture of concentration camps."


"Friede stood with the immobility of a carving in Saxon stone, yet his stillness he epitomised all the qualities that had been developed and glorified in the system which he represented -- the crude driving force and brutality of the Vandals who had left their tribal name to posterity as a synonym for the destroying barbarian, fatefully combined with an infinitude of patient and painstaking and pitiless cunning that the Mongol invaders had left Eastern Europe for a legacy that was to filter westwards and lend its aid to a greater shambles than Genghis Khan ever aspired to."

More narrative:

"Simon saw him without pity, even with an arctic and eternal satisfaction. For what March had been and what he had done there could be no excuse that could stand up to judgement, for what he suffered on account of it there could be no sympathy that was not maudlin; and in a world where civilization was fighting for its very life there was no room for such inanities. It was that kind of vacuous sentimentality which had allowed the powers of the jungle to grow strong -- that perverse broadmindedness which insisted on acknowledging every argument for the other side while discounting all the irrefutable evidence on its own side, which strained every nerve to make excuses for a murderer while it pigeonholed the sufferings of the victims who did not need any excuse. It was against such injustices masquerading under the namke of Justice that [Simon] had always wages his relentless battle; and now at this time he was glad that Randolph March had to suffer even a fraction of what had been suffered by the men and women and children who had been crushed under the juggernaut to which he had freely given his aid."

Sheriff Haskins again:

"Well, son, it's like this. A lot o' strange critters bed down together peaceable-like when a panther's on the prowl. Let 'em get to fightin' too much among themselves, an' the crazy cat will gollop 'em all. Take rabbits, now." The Sheriff filled his glass again and smiled ruminatively. "I reckon if enough rabbits ganged up together an' got properly mad, they could put a bobcat on the run. Most times the folks in this country are homelovin' an' peaceable as rabbits -- but it seems to me that the time for a little gangin' up an' gettin' mad has more 'n come."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Astrology is Baloney

Way back when, about 40 years ago, when I was finishing my undergraduate career at the University of Minnesota, a lot of what is now called "New Age" stuff was in vogue. I knew a few students who would hardly do a thing without consulting a horoscope, and I remember one student remarking cattily of her roommate that "whenever she gets nervous, she heads for her hash pipe." By the way, these were nominally Catholic kids.

About that time, I did an experiment. I read the horoscopes every day - one day late. That was to remove both sources of bias, for and against (I was "against" anyway). If I remember, the horoscope was totally wrong about 75% of the time, and mostly wrong another 20%, leaving about 5% of the time it was somewhat or reasonably accurate at having predicted yesterday. If I remember my statistics right, 5% chance error in any experiment is tolerable.

(There's a line in Thornton Wilder's play The Skin of our Teeth where the Boardwalk fortuneteller says "I tell the future. Keck. Nothing easier. Everybody's future is in their face. Nothing easier. But who can tell your past, -- eh? Nobody!")

Anyway, about fifteen years after that, I was researching a novel and had to know something about medieval cosmology, so got a book from the library called The Only Astrology Book You'll Ever Need, or some such, and read up on it.

I found that:

1, Astrology doesn't take into account the existence of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto;
2, Astrology says that everything depends on date and time or birth -- why not conception? (That will throw a person nine signs backward.)

And some time later, I found out that because of the precession of the equinoxes (look it up) the first sign of spring in AD 2000 is not Aries but Pisces (look up tropical zodiac versus sidereal zodiac), because the star charts the astrologers use are a couple thousand years out of date. So everyone is an additional sign off in the same direction.

Anyway, as Mr. Spock might have said, it's illogical and an illusion. I think "BS" or even stronger words will serve too.

Hitler was addicted to astrology; I wonder about BHO.

Last point: the Church condemns it (see the Catechism) and that suits me fine!

Monday, July 13, 2009

More Same Old Same Old

"It is said that in these hectic days no item of news is capable of holding the interest of the public for more than a week; wherefore journalists and news editors age swiftly, and become prematurely bald and bad-tempered . . . . A new sensation must be provided from day to day, and each sensation must eclipse its predecessor, till the dictionary is bled dry of superlatives, and the imagination pales before the task of finding or inventing for to-morrow a story fantastic and colossal enough to succeed the masterpiece of yesterday."

"I hope I never live to see the day when the miserable quibbling hair-splitters have won the earth, and there's no more black and white, but everything's just a dreary relative gray, and everyone has a right to his own damned heresies, and it's more noble t0 be broadminded about your disgusting neighbours than to push their faces in as a preliminary to yanking back into the straight and narrow way. . . ."

These come from books published in 1930. Here's something more recent:

"Simply to slap your audience in the face satisfies an austere and puritanical streak which runs in many of his disciples and sometimes, detrimentally I think, in Brecht himself. But it is a dangerous game to play. It has the effect of shock because it is unexpected. But it is unexpected only because it flies in the face of a thoroughly established convention (a convention which goes far beyond naturalism; briefly, the convention that the actors are there as actors, not as themselves). Each time it is done it is a little less unexpected, so that a bigger and bigger dosage will be required to produce the same effect. If it were continued indefinitely it would finally not be unexpected at all. The theatrical convention would then have been entirely dissipated and we should have in the theatre a situation with one person, who used to be an actor, desperately trying to engage the attention -- by rude gestures, loud noises, indecent exposure, fireworks, anything -- of other persons, who used to be the audience. As this point was approached some very lively evenings might be expected, but the depth and subtlety of the notions which can be communicated by such methods may be doubted. When we use alienation method just for kicks, we in the theatre are sawing through the branch on which we are sitting."

This was written in 1960 by Robert Bolt as part of the preface to A Man for all Seasons.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

T-Shirt for the Times

Some years ago, one of my sisters gave me a nice t-shirt, which I never wore much, but I intend to wear it often from now on.

It's from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Ministry of Sport and Culture (in Russian, of course), and has a nice hammer and sickle and gold star on it.

Now that we're becoming a totalitarian state and are losing all our liberties, I figure it's a good idea to remind people of that.

Ask me if I care

I was at a friend's house tonight, di sheynste yidishe meydl im velt, and one TV channel mentioned that they would be adjusting their broadcast schedule to work in Michael Jackson's funeral. Aside from our common humanity, and all that implies, what was so great about Michael Jackson that I should go into an orgy of keening and wailing over his death? I bet he's getting more TV coverage than Kennedy's funeral did in 1963, or 9-11 got. I think this is absofreakinlutely ridiculous.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Good one by G. K. Chesterton

I don't know when G. K. wrote this little poem, but it occurred to me Sunday evening:


The men that worked for England
They have their graves at home:
And bees and birds of England
About the cross can roam.

But they that fought for England,
Following a falling star,
Alas, alas for England
They have their graves afar.

And they that rule in England,
In stately conclave met,
Alas, alas for England
They have no graves as yet.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I had a nightmare

That happens often -- the price of age I suppose, and having many sins to atone for. This one was really bad.

Now that Obama (who calls himself President) has a veto-proof majority in the U.S. Senate (see below), we can expect all kinds of bad things to happen. It's obvious already, and has been for some time, that he considers the unborn to be nonpersons. It's obvious that he wants to "normalize" homosexuality, and make anyone who talks against it a perpetrator of a "hate crime." (Matthew Shepard was not repeat not murdered because of his homosexuality; you can find the truth if you dig).

By labeling a lot of religious people as hate peddlers, he intends to strike at the First Amendment. Note that its wording says "Congress shall make no law . . . . " But there are always executive orders -- which Congress and the Supreme Court can now be expected to uphold.

His relations with the Moslem world are disgustingly well-documented.

I think he would repeal the Second Amendment if he could -- and I do believe that he and his administration will do their best to gut it.

My darkest suspicion is that he's going to try to remove term limits on the presidency as provided by the 22nd Amendment, so that he and his people can be in power for a lot more than four or eight years. Read history. Whatever Hitler or Stalin did, Obama will try to do.

I must add that I believe the not-legally-president theory, simply because if he has nothing to hide, then why is he hiding it?

Also: The Jokester is now U.S. Senator from Minnesota. I have read his book Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them; a Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, which I don't honestly know if he means to be comic or serious. But I have read a lot of history, and I know for sure the book is full of historical errors. Whether they're mistakes or lies only he knows, but I suspect the latter.

I hope I'm wrong, but I'm dreadfully afraid I'm right.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Church and State

It has all happened before.

This excerpt is from Cathedral and Crusade, Vol. I, by Henri Daniel-Rops; subtitled Studies of the Medieval Church, 1050-1350 translated by John Warrington from the original L'Eglise de la Cathédrale et de la Croisade (Librairie Athème Fayard,) published by Doubleday Image Books in 1963 by arrangement with E. P. Dutton (1957). From p. 212:

In the World but not of the World

"The spiritual and moral problem which the Church endeavoured so courageously to solve was not the only one with which she was confronted; for in order to accomplish her supernatural mission, it was necessary that she should clarify her relations with the civil power. The two realms of authority appear at first sight to be unconnected; actually they are inseparable. Christ Himself emphasized that the Church is 'not of this world'; her essential purity tends to raise her above the things of earth. Nevertheless, her work lies in this world, among men, within the framework of their interests and institutions. She can be no more indifferent to the laws upon which her freedom depends than to those material resources which enable her ministers to carry out their supernatural function. She is a spiritual society, foreshadowing the City of God; but she is obliged to maintain close contact with the City of the World, and that is no easy task.

"The problem is everlasting. It is the most difficult of all those which Christendom has been called upon to solve; and if no satisfactory solution has yet been found, it is surely because none exists, because it is in the nature of things that there should be continual tension between the spiritual and the temporal order. Three situations are possible. The secular power may be opposed to the Church upon ideological or political ground, which means persecution; or the State my ignore religious activity and treat the spiritual society as nonexistent, which means neutrality. But persecution had ended in the fourth century, and neutrality was quite unthinkable in the Middle Ages; so there remained a third possibility, collaboration."

My own thoughts are only a few.

The First Amendment to the Constitution seems to me to assert the neutrality of the State with regard to religion: there shall be no established Church, but there shall be free exercise of religion. However, at least one of our Founding Fathers said (I'm paraphrasing) that our Constitution is suitable only for the governance of a moral people and unsuited for the governance of any other. Which I think we are becoming -- in fact, I think we're slipping back into barbarism.

I think that the Powers That Be in the United States at this moment are not only indifferent to religion, especially Christianity and most especially Catholicism, but are actively hostile; that we believers are in fact being persecuted, and it's going to get worse. The evidence is all around us, we only have to read the paper, watch TV, or surf the Net to see that.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Elementary, my dear Watson."

This is one saying of Holmes (need I say which Holmes?) which he never said in any of the stories. Maybe in a movie, but not in the stories. I'm rereading my Holmes for the umpteenth time since I was twelve. I've never gotten tired of Holmes, never will.

One thing I like about Holmes, and murder mysteries in general, is that most times justice is done and things are set right. This happens so seldom in the real world.
Right now I'm reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, which was made into a movie about 1939, with (naturally) Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, and Richard Greene (who some years later played Robin Hood in a TV series which I believe was made in England). MAD did a satire on it way back when, called The Hound of the Basketballs.
One of the best lines from this novel is:
"Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

This and That

When I was visiting my sister out of town last month, I found a biography of Harry Truman by his daughter Margaret, and snapped it up. I had read his oral autobiography, Plain Speaking, and David McCullough's biography. Now, I knew very little about Truman before reading these books -- except that my junior-year American history teacher at De La Salle in Minneapolis, Brother "Ralph," said that history would come to judge Truman as one of the greatest of American presidents. After reading these three books, I'm inclined to agree with Brother Ralph. One other thing: I suspect very strongly that if Truman were alive and active today, he would give most of the current Democrats hell, especially the man who claims to be president today. "Give 'em hell, Harry!" Amen!

Yesterday, while shopping for car parts (plug wires and air filters) I went past a book store and found two translations of Virgil's Aeneid, one in prose and one in verse. I can't remember ever having read the Aeneid before, but after a couple of hours at it, I could slap my forehead for that lapse (oh, well, c'est la guerre), and I could see why the story has lasted two thousand years: it's a page-turner adventure story. Just like the Iliad and the Odyssey.

At the book store I also found a copy of the Marx Brothers' "Animal Crackers," and a copy of "To Hell and Back," the 1955 movie about Audie Murphy in which he played himself. We boys drooled with anticipation when we heard the movie was being made. I think I saw it twice or three times. Murphy's book was first published in 1949, and the paperback edition in 1951; my dad bought the paperback, and it's now on my shelves. To us boys in 1955, our dads and uncles and all the men and women who served in the armed forces during the War were our heroes. I think, looking back, that we could hardly have closen better, and Tom Brokaw was right.

As long as I'm on the subject, I have to give a hat-tip to men and women of other nations who helped defeat the "Thousand-year Reich" and the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere." Especially to the very courageous hommes et femmes of the French Resistance - not to ignore the resistance movements in Denmark, Norway, Poland - and even the German White Rose Society, young people who spread anti-Nazi propaganda and were beheaded for it.

Back to the car. I got my first car in the spring of 1970 when I was 26 -- which I bet hardly a youngster today will believe. It was a 1963 Valiant, with the 190-cubic-inch slant-six engine. That was an awful good first car. For one thing, you could do almost everything yourself, including tuning and timing. My dad and older brother taught me how to do the clean sweep of fall maintenance; "You take care of your car in the fall, and your car will take care of you all winter," Pop used to say. He was right: that Valiant started one morning when it was 34 below here, and that without being plugged in. I had to use both hands to turn the key, and when it first fired off, I could hear each cylinder exploding.

After the Valiant, I bought a 1975 Duster, new, with the 225-cu.-in. slant-six engine and a "five-in-the floor" standard transmission. It was a nice tradeoff between power and economy. I ran it for ten years, 180,000 miles, and resold it. Bought a 1985 Honda Civic hatchback wagon, new, and drove that for twenty years until it just plain died. I was hoping to get a quarter of a million miles out of it, but didn't quite make it. That little car had five forward speeds, plus a super-low gear that you could only engage when you turned on the four-wheel drive. When I test-drove one, I drove it on the freeway, on city streets, and finally into a sandy vacant lot, where I drove it up to the hubcaps in sand and stopped. I engaged the four-wheel drive, put it into super-low, geeennntly let in the clutch, and just rolled right out. That car never got stuck anywhere, anyime, not even during the 1991 Hallowe'en Megastorm.

I was used to doing all my own work on a car, but by 1985 I was getting tired of "get out and get under" (an old song from my parents' youth), plus the works under the hood was a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle -- as is my present 1993 Dodge Caravan. So when I replaced the plug wires on the Caravan day before yesterday, it was the first time in about 20 years that I'd done that kind of under-the-hood work, and I was pleased that it wasn't as bad as I'd feared it would be. Even though I had to remove the whole air filter assembly to get at the back plugs. And of course I lost one part and had one part left over. (Murphy.) But as the old codger said to his wife, "I may not be as good as I was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." And I was right about the wires being the problem: the misfiring disappeared immediately.

Sometimes I'm so clever I just can't stand myself. Nyuk nyuk nyuk. And I'm so modest about it, too.

That's all, folks. Peace and blessings!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stimulus Check

About a month ago I got a note from the government that said I was going to get a stimulus check for some money, and I should get it about the end of May.

Today I pulled up and printed my May statement from my credit union and, sure enough, the money was in my account.

Why am I surprised?

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Last night, at my favorite beer-and-burger joint, they showed Saving Private Ryan on the TV. One of my childhood buddies (whose dad served in mop-up operations in the Philippines) had been urging me for years to see the movie, but warned me that the first twenty minutes were hard to take.

He understated. It was gut-wrenching.

I don't have the words to express my immense gratitude to those men at Omaha Beach, or to my dad, or to my uncle who was a gunner on a baby flattop at Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa; to my buddy's dad, to my six buddies who served in Vietnam (and four were killed there including one I baby-sat when he was a kid); to all who served and are serving now.

Thanks also to "V for Victory" and Fr. Z. and other bloggers for remembering, and reminding us.

I have four books about D-Day, and in one of them is this passage, which I think is relevant to the USA in 2009 (the emphasis is mine):

"The opinion of world history has ususally disregarded the momentary tendency to condemn a defeated enemy. No one thought of calling to account the soldiers of the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. No one indicted the marshals, officers, and men of Napoleon and of France, though Napoleon was decried as an aggressor by the coalition. The mass executions by the Duke of Alva in 1568 and the behavior of the northern states after the American Civil War are only exceptions to the rule. An officer corps that had been developed to serve a monarchist form of government was not adaptable to an eventual coup d'état or even to a critical attitude towards the head of state. This was a source of strength as long as the Army was commanded by a monarch responsible only to God. It was weakness when a godless man assumed control of the Army's destiny."

Author: Lieutenent General Hans Speidel, chief of staff to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Invasion 1944, New York: Paperback Library, 1972

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Excellent Article to Read

I was cruising around Cyberland this morning with my coffee, and wicked evil cigarette, and I found an excellent article by "Dr. Sanity" at drsanity.blogspot.com entitled "Reject the Left's Socially Acceptable Racism and Bigotry." The good doctor referred to another article by Victor Davis Hanson at Pajamas Media, about postmodernism and America's first postmodern president -- and I don't have to tell you who that is.

Both articles are very much worth reading, and I recommend them highly. I'm not a philosopher, but as far as I can tell, "postmodernism" and "deconstruction" and all that basically means that "something is whatever I say it is," which -- pardon my plain English -- is pure bullshit.

June 1944

At this time in 1944 I was three months, and a week or so, old, and just home from a month in an isolation ward in a hospital, finally cured or cerebro-spinal meningitis, which my parents told me many years later could have killed six people. My Mom was not allowed to hold or nurse me because I could have infected and killed her. I found out much much later, that what kills or maims (blindness, deafness, retardation) the meningitis patient is the fever the body sets up to kill the bacteria.

Pop and Mom told me that some of the medical staff wrote me off: "Go home and start another baby; everybody loses one." But thanks to a stubborn Norwegian, Doctor Karlstrom, who never stopped trying, and a stubborn Polish priest, Father Szymanski, who never stopped praying, I survived. May they rest in peace.

Pop and Mom told me that what eventually cured me was sulfa, a drug not available to the civilian public at the time. Pop wangled some from his Army rifle company's medical officer, and sent or brought it some to Doctor Karlstrom. The doc took out some of the infected spinal fluid and replaced it with a sulfa solution. I think he figured he had nothing to lose, and it worked, and here I am.

(Postscript from 2001 or so: a neurologist told me that no studies had ever been done on the long-term aftereffects of meningitis because there aren't enough survivors to do a decent study on.)

It makes me think a lot about the old Catholic or Christian adage that I heard a long time ago, that God puts each person on earth precisely where and when he or she can do the most good for His plan for humanity.

Anyway, that's one of the things I think about in June. The other two are the liberation of Rome on June 4, 1944, and of course the landings on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

In the mid- to late 1950's, when war vets from all sides were publishing memoirs, I read a lot of the books that Pop had on his shelves (now on mine), particularly Bill Mauldin's Up Front, Audie Murphy's To Hell and Back, and Ross Carter's Those Devils in Baggy Pants. (I now have over 250 books and documentaries on WWII, by the way.) I'm not sure that it was good for a 10-to-13-year-old boy to read those stories, but I did, and the impression they left with me was that warfare is horrible beyond imagining, but sometimes it is necessary.

(My generation had Vietnam, and that war cost me six buddies that I know of, but that's another story.)

What happened in June 1944 is long ago; some of it was far away, some of it was as close to me as myself. But all of it has left its mark.

God bless America, and God bless those who put on her uniform.