Saturday, May 17, 2008

Trinity Sunday

Icon with the Trinity (1411) - Andrei Rublev (1360-c.1430)

IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY, Andrei Rublev, a saintly painter-monk of the Russian Orthodox Church, depicted (the) heavenly visitors (who appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre) in an icon referred to as "The Old Testament Trinity." It was judged by the Russian hierarchy to be the most Orthodox representation of the doctrine of the Trinity rising from their religious culture ... The table around which the angels sit is itself a kind of symbolic mountain and the rectangular opening in the icon represents that place where the bones of dead saints are ritually kept, the tomb of the elect beneath the altar of sacrifice.

(A) circle draws us into the icon making us participants in the heavenly repast. We complete that circle by joining in the sacra conversazione. We dance the dance and partake of the feast. The sky in the icon is gold for we are transported outside of time and space into a sacred precinct.

House, tree, mountain, altar, chalice, wings, scepters, purple, green, red, gold ... we are caught up in the iconography devised by a saint to describe an ineffable mystery draped in the theology of color and arranged in a geometry of grace.
-- Fr. Michael Morris, O. P., MAGNIFICAT [May 2008, Vol. 10, No. 3]

Different Strokes for Different Folks

If the United Nations is so concerned about this, why not this?

Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Christendom

Andrew Cusack gives a beautiful photo essay on the annual “Notre Dame de Chrétienté” (Our Lady of Christendom) pilgrimage here.

Saint Mary's Church - Dubai

Wonder what it would be like to lead the Catholic faithful in the heart of Araby? See what the Capuchin Franciscan, Bishop Paul Hinder, the Vicar Apostolic of Arabia, has to say. [h/t: Real Clear Religion]

Fjordman - Causes of Anti-Semitism

The Baron at Gates of Vienna features Fjordman in The Causes of Anti-Semitism: Preliminary Discussions. A sample:
(T)he leading Jewish medieval physician and philosopher Maimonides directed that Jews could teach rabbinic law to Christians, but not to Muslims. For Muslims, he said, will interpret what they are taught “according to their erroneous principles and they will oppress us. [F]or this reason… they hate all [non-Muslims] who live among them.” But the Christians, he said, “admit that the text of the Torah, such as we have it, is intact.”

Maimonides lamented the aggression and humiliation Jews faced from Muslims: “You know, my brethren, that on account of our sins God has cast us into the midst of this people, the nation of Ishmael, who persecute us severely, and who devise ways to harm us and to debase us… No nation has ever done more harm to Israel. None has matched it in debasing and humiliating us. None has been able to reduce us as they have… We have borne their imposed degradation, their lies, and absurdities, which are beyond human power to bear.”

Friday, May 16, 2008

He Becomes Our New Beginning

Referring to Our Lord's Parable of the Vineyard (Mark 12, 1-11), Benedict XVI says:
If we open our eyes, isn't what is said in the parable actually a description of our present world? Isn't this precisely the logic of the modern age, of our age? Let us declare that God is dead, then we ourselves will be God. At last we no longer belong to anyone else; rather, we are simply the owners of ourselves and of the world. At last we can do what we please. We get rid of God; there is no measuring rod above us; we ourselves are our only measure. The "vineyard" belongs to us. What happens to man and the world next? We are already beginning to see it ...

[ ... ]

The Lord cites Psalm 118:22f: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." The death of the son is not the last word. He is killed, but he does not remain in death, he does not remain "rejected". He becomes a new beginning. Jesus gives his audience to understand that he himself will be the Son who is killed; he foretells his Cross and Resurrection and prophesies that upon him, when he has been killed and has risen, God will erect a new building, a new Temple in the world ... God does not fail; we may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful (cf 2 Tim 2:13).
- Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth [257-8]

Prince Caspian - Re-writing CSL Sux

Only being outside my house on short walks (2) over the past 4+ weeks, I got my beloved to take me out to see Prince Caspian this morning at the earliest possible showing. Having done so, I am sorry to say that the second installment in the Chronicles of Narnia franchise has already succumbed to Peter-Jackson-itis. What do I mean?

While the first film, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, stayed fairly close to the book of the same title by C. S. Lewis, the screenwriters of Prince Caspian, for reasons known only to themselves, decided to veer wildly away from Lewis's narrative. The film careens into an attack by the old Narnians upon the castle of the usurper King Miraz at the behest of High King Peter who seems to have been infected with the same bug that Peter Jackson gave to his film version of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings: he is uncertain, overbearing trying to compensate for it, and given to bouts of ubermensch grandiosity. This is not worthy of Peter in the book, Prince Caspain. It is not worthy of Aragorn ('Strider') in Lord of the Rings.

The one true characterization here (Lucy is worse than book self; Susan is better and gets to kill a great many more Telmarines with her bow and arrows) is Edmund. He is wiser, stabler, a go-to fellow you truly want in your corner. (Even Aslan comes off as an Ubermensch extraordinaire rather than a savior-figure for all.)

Screenwriters need to keep focus groups out of their decision making about rewriting classics like the Chronicles of Narnia. I hate to think how far the next one will go afield.

Relics of the True Cross

One of the largest fragments of the True Cross is at Santo Toribio de Liébana in Spain. (photo F.J.Díez Martín).

The alleged fragments of the True Cross would have added up to a whole forest, or a "boat-load" by John Calvin's snide estimate.

In a truly obsessive piece of scholarship, Charles Rohault de Fleury's Memoire sur les instruments de la passion de N.-S. J.-C. (Paris, 1870) counted all the alleged fragments and showed they only added up to considerably less than one cross ... more here.

Crisis of Distinctions - California

Citizens of California may be scratching their heads today at their Supreme Court’s recent decision. Just as sure as Barrack Hussein Obama got John Edwards’ “blue-collar” endorsement immediately following Hillary Clinton’s victory in WV, Ellen DeGenerese announced her impeding “marriage” to “longtime love,” Portia de Rossi – surprise, surprise. (What happened to her “longer ago love” Anne Heche?)

Peter Sean Bradley, attorney-at-law in the once great state of California, says the following:
A few questions:

First, why not polygamy? Why is "two" a "magic number"? Could it be because we have two arms? Could it be because we have two eyes?

Or could it be because there are two sexes, and now that the idea that the complementarity of the different genders is now considered outmoded and irrelevant, why should "two" be a limitation any more than the idea that a "man" and a "woman" constitute a married couple?

Second, haven't we always known that this was going to happen? It didn't matter how often the voters stated their sovereign preference by wide margins that they wanted to structure their society around the idea that marriage was intrinsically and essentially connected to procreation, we've always known that gay marriage would make its march through the elite governance system.

And now it has happened.

What has happened to the ideal of democracy? The idea that citizens govern rather than are subjects of their governors seems to have died a silent, unlamented death.
Good questions, all. From the viewpoint of Girard's mimetic theory, we are seeing the dissolution of the structures put into place by means of the sacrificial mechanisms of the primitive Sacred: the so-called "crisis of distinctions" which is the harbinger of another sacrificial preparation. It is a breakdown of the rituals, myths, and prohibitions of the Sacred that is necessary for another culture-founding, culture-reviving spasm of violence.

Trouble is, another factor has been at work in the West; namely, the Gospel. In conventional cultures, when a crisis of distinctions reached its denouement, an "economic" apoplexy of violence would occur -- Nietzsche's Eternal Return -- and order would be restored, either through a carefully orchestrated ritual event performed by the priesthood or an actual new originary event of founding violence.

Now, however, the Gospel has given moral "qualms" about such events in the West (notice that in lands of the "Scimitar", no such qualms even cross the minds of street rabble - such matters are framed in terms of 'honor', 'disrespect', revenge as 'sacred duty,' etc.). Therefore, the prestige of sacrificial victims or the number of sacrificial victims has increased in an unconscious effort to surcharge the sacrificial mechanism: regicide or genocide.

Difficult times lie ahead for people of faith, people of peace, people who believe the Gospel.

Maggie Gallagher on CA

Much cyber-ink has been and will be spilt regarding the California Supreme Court's split-decision that marriage as the union of husband and wife is unconstitutional under the California constitution. Once again, the multiculturalist ideology of unrestrained freedom of the individual reigns supreme. Natural Law bites the dust. A train may choose to jump the tracks in the name of unfettered "freedom" - regardless of how many disasters this creates for those living near the tracks.

Maggie Gallagher, however, says that the California court may not have the last word.

Recall that Gallagher wrote the timely warning in 2006, Banned in Boston - The coming conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Prince Caspian - A. O. Scott

A. O. Scott of - of all things - the New York Times gives a begrudgingly positive review for Prince Caspian. Bully.

Child Was a 'Demon'

Readers of René Girard won't take long in recognizing the familiar signs of scapegoating and reconstitutive violence in this brief story: One Mind Ministries of Baltimore, MD, allegedly starved an 18-month old child because he was viewed as a ‘demon.'
Cult members concluded Javon Thompson was a “demon” after the baby wouldn’t say “amen” at mealtime and starved him to death, witnesses told homicide detectives, according to records obtained by The Examiner.

“The child was abused because Javon was noncompliant with the existing rules of the ‘cult,’ ” the records state. “The child was also viewed as a ‘demon.’ ”

Investigators believe 18-month-old Javon’s body was found last month in a suitcase in Philadelphia two years after his death.

The return to such expressions of the primitive Sacred is to be expected the farther we recede from the revealed truth of the Magisterium of Catholic faith, truth, and morals.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chivalrous Calling

Corpus Christianum is an international Private Association of the Faithful, open both to men and women, dedicated to praying for a renewal of Christendom.

Guided by a Catholic chivalrous spirit and Marian in character, Corpus Christianum members daily pray for the following key points:

* The renewal, unity, and spread of Christendom
* The Supreme Pontiff and all priests/religious
* The protection of Christians around the world
* The restoration of the family
* The conversion of sinners and the sanctification of all people

If this sounds like an apostolate to which you feel called, inquire here.

Never Cry "Asian Youths"

As Farley Mowat detailed in his book, Never Cry Wolf, wolves never descry and take down healthy members of a herd of caribou. They take down the sick and diseased thereby thinning herds in acceptable and, one might even say, in an humane way.

Well, guess what, kids? Apparently the same phenomenon is happening in East London. The second Anglican parson has been attacked by "Asian youths." Aoooooooooo ..............

Mission Accomplished

I hope it is more than a blip in the continuum, but apparently here you have it: Poll: Big Shift Among Practicing and Non-Practicing Catholics After Papal Visit -- More Likely to Vote, Better Understand Church Teaching, and Say Trip Met or Exceeded Expectations. [h/t: Mark Shea]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

There Was a Time - Taylor Caldwell

HE SEEMED TO LOVE THE SOUND OF WORDS, formed surely from the letters he traced. He was face to face with a miracle, and when the word “cat” had been spelled out by him and he understood that it referred to the creature pictured in his book, his eyes would glow and he would seem on the verge of tears. He had a low, uncertain voice, a rusty young voice which was rarely used except to cry out the magic groupings he had achieved, or which he had learned to recognize in his books. Now he began to listen to all words, as if they were music, sometimes repeating them silently with strong motions of his lips, as the speaker enunciated them. It was as if he were intoxicated by words, any words. They were flashes of light; they were windows suddenly thrown open upon a land drenched with moon and enchantment. They were the blaze of trumpets raised visibly in darkness, haloed with radiance. They were drums that thundered, and filled the silence with wings.

How could he ever explain the intoxication of words, mere disjointed words, words in themselves, the butterflies of color, the rainbow bridges over voiceless abysses, the sudden flight of birds like the rising and wheeling of gulls with sunset on their wings?

Instinctively, he knew the richness, the succulence, the suety opulence of words. Sometimes a new word would remind him of a little fat man, waddling, full of chuckles. It was the sound of them, the mere sound of words (for he could not as yet know the meaning of one-tenth he heard) which entranced him. It was the rhythm and the spacing of them, the flow, the pianissimo or the fortissimo of accent, the sudden curve of a syllable like the swell of a glass vase, the sudden and abrupt rise, as if a hand had been lifted peremptorily. Sometimes they were ugly words, unpleasant raucous words, hideous little spoons of words that contained a lump of poisoned jam. He listened for words on the street; he listened for them in houses, in the shops, in corridors, halls, rooms. He listened when his father read from the Manchester Guardian, and the measured pace of these words was like a procession, a somber parade, a conclave of kings, an old man talking gravely in the night. Best of all, when his father read some incomprehensible comic comment, the words were like tumbling clowns at the pantomime, rollicking little dwarfs with large red noses, tiny tinseled fairies pulled by strings, Punch and Judies with cackling voices, or a silly little bang of happy drums. And some words were cold and stiff, like twigs in winter, or hard, like stone or pungent like the striped peppermint canes given to children at Christmas. But they carried no actual projection of their intrinsic meaning to his brain. It was the mere sound of them which held him transfixed …

When in his manhood, he remembered this, he was amazed and bitterly envious. What a pristine and lovely frenzy had been his! What would he not now give to feel again that keen and terrible rapture, that fresh glory, at the mere sound of words! A voice on the street, just an ordinary, flat voice of a child or a housewife, but a voice enunciating a cadence of syllables that caught the ear with their poignant dissonance, or their thick little runnings like a brown rivulet in spring. Images flashed through his awakened mind at their mere exclamation. He heard a child demand something petulantly of its harried mother, and he heard a young rook complaining in the bare trees of winter. A young shopgirl spoke in the sweetest trill of a voice to his mother and he heard a sleep thrush awakening in the morning. He heard a woman laugh, and it was the tinkle of a four-sided cow-bell in the evening. Lovely lovely words, entrancing sounds, excitements in a harsh grunt, enormous fears in the growl of the shoemaker.

He had a deep aversion for the word “platter”. It had a flat, dead sound. He disliked “ham” for it was smug and thick. But serviette! What a tender frolic, what grace, what sparkling fingers, what arching of a pretty neck! “Tablecloth” suggested wool that scratched, and he itched at the sound of it. “Jam” set his teeth on edge, and made him annoyed with his mother when she spoke it. His father spoke of “torquay” and he did not know whether it was a city, a place, a proper name, or something to eat; but the articulation of it made him feel wild and strange and full of hot bright wind. He heard the word “somber” and he saw a face turning in darkness, full of meaning. There was no relationship between the words and what he saw and experienced in his trembling heart. It was enough that he heard them.

Operation Theseus

The bombers caught on CCTV at Luton railway station at 07:21 a.m. on 7 July. From left to right, Hasib Hussain, Germaine Lindsay, Mohammad Sidique Khan, and Shehzad Tanweer.

Counterterrorism Blog looks at "Operation Theseus" - a cybercast examination of criminal investigations related to the terrorism and counterterrorism surrounding the 7/7/05 attacks in England. Recommended viewing.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Obama's Further Difficulties

The New York Times ponders a delicate question, President Apostate?

And ever thoughtful Hugh Fitzgerald delves further looking at Obama's missing trick.

Then there's his thoughtful observation on Israel: a “constant sore” that “infects all of our foreign policy.”

And last but not least, Obama's disingenuous "Catholic National Advisory Council."


Rational Faith

FAITH IN THE ONE GOD is the only thing that truly liberates the world and makes it "rational". When faith is absent, the world only appears to be more rational. In reality the indeterminable powers of chance now claim their due; "chaos theory" takes its place alongside insight into the rational structure of the universe, confronting man with obscurities that he cannot resolve and that set limits to the world's rationality. To "exorcise" the world -- to establish it in the light of the ratio (reason) that comes from eternal creative reason and its saving goodness and refers back to it -- that is a permanent, central task of the messengers of Jesus Christ.

- Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth [174]

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

h/t: The Anchoress

Untested Under Fire

Richard Landes at Augean Stables calls the honorable Senator Obama's ideas on the crisis in Lebanon liberal cognitive egocentrism - defining the problem in terms for which liberals have a solution.

The swirl of criticism and his ability to deflect it makes one ponder: if they thought Bill Clinton was slick, what of Barack Hussein Obama? He has far more under his table than John Kerry - starting with his name - but he still comes out smelling like a rose to Democrats.

He is the presidential candidate for "progressives" - read optimistic dupes of multicultural ideology - and a favorite, admittedly, among Hamas.

Like so many, Barack Hussein Obama thinks that if he can imagine "change", it can become a reality. It is a Gnostic proclivity and one that ignores the realities of Original Sin and Catholic truth. I am certain who John Lennon would favor in the upcoming election.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Boris Johnson - Mayor of London

(Photo: h/t: Theo - Last of the Few)

Andrew Cusack, Esq., introduces us to London's new mayor, the honorable Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson MP. Next stop, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?

Mark Steyn - The Agenda

Mark Steyn on The Agenda with Steve Paikin on Western Europe, birthrates, assimilation, the nullity of modern multiculturalist nations, and facing reality. Will his opponents debate with him on the set? Watch.

The three young Canadian Muslims who do, finally, debate Steyn clearly have no understanding of mimesis, or, if they do, they play off the fact that modern "progressives" do not. It is a debate of presuppositions and the demographics -- 3 (Muslims) to 1 (Mark Steyn) -- are about right these days.

No More Wistfulness

Tom Piatak at Taki's Magazine makes a startling admission, I Confess: I Don’t Understand Why Some Atheists Are So Angry.