Saturday, November 28, 2009

Knight's Tale - Chaucer

Heere bigynneth the Knyghtes Tale.

Iamque domos patrias, Sithice post
aspera gentis prelia,laurigero, etc.

And now (Theseus drawing nigh his) native land in
laurelled car after with the Scithian folk, etc.

Different God, Different Ethic

This sort of platitude should remind him that theology and anthropology are above his pay grade.

Ars Moriendi - Art of Dying

Daniel Mitsui has an impeccable gift for finding images of truth, goodness, and beauty. All this month he has lifted up primarily images centered on the 'Dance of Death' from art around Christendom in honor of November - the Month of the Holy Souls.

It is timely and apt that he share the following as the month now rapidly draws to a close. Namely, Ars Moriendi - The Art of Dying. From Emile Mâle:
The Ars moriendi is the work of a monk or priest who had seen many people die. In this little book we have the somber experience of a man who had collected together many last words, barely spoken... The text was often striking, but it was the astonishing woodcuts above all that spread its fame throughout Europe. Here it is indeed a question of Christian hopes and fears: death appears not as a farcical dance, but as a serious drama played around the bed of the dying man; angel and devil stand at his side, contending for the soul that will soon depart. Formidable moment! The Christian needed to know in advance the temptations and anguish of the terrible dark hours to come in order to learn how to triumph over them... The dying man is exposed to five principal temptations. God, however, does not abandon the Christian, and five times sends His angel to comfort him.
For all of Mitsui's post, see here. For a contemporary effort for modern denizens who are in need of a guide to dying a holy death, see here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Like He'd Seen a Ghost

As you probably already know, Mark Twain wrote a biography of Saint Joan of Arc. You may know, too, that he said it was his personal favorite writing project.

Stephen Ryan at relates a fascinating account from an article in the NYT dated 1905 that explains the photo above:
It had been arranged that when the humorist arose to speak Miss Angersten, a well-known model, was to appear in the garb and with the simple dignity of Jean d'Arc, his favorite character in all history. He was on his feet as Jean d'Arc entered the room. She wore the armor of the French heroine and her hair and face made a strangely appealing picture.

The face of the humorist, which had been wearing its "company" smile all night, suddenly changed. He had every appearance of a man who had seen a ghost. His eyes fairly started out of his head, and his hand gripped the edge of the table.

Jean d'Arc presented him with a wreath of bay. He merely bowed, with his eyes fixed on the girl's face. They followed her as in reverent silence she passed out, followed by a little boy in suitable costume, bearing a banner over her head. Then Mark Twain spoke. His voice was broken, and his word came slowly..More>>

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lighting a Candle

... rather than cursing the darkness. The Holy Father meets with artists from around the world in the Sistine Chapel.

Finding the Church

With thanks to Monsignor Charles Pope:

Turn About Fair Play

Who are the Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant leaders who are saying loudly and clearly, "We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's?" Sandro Magister explains.

More from Christianity Today.

True Hope and Change

Reflects on Relationships Modeled on the Trinity

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is inviting the faithful to imagine what the world would be like if family, parish and community relationships were modeled on the Trinity, with people not only living together but also for each other.

The Pope reflected on this today when he took up the topic of two 12th-century theologians during his general audience in Paul VI Hall.

He reflected on Hugh and Richard, both of the Abbey of St. Victor in France. He particularly considered their complementary emphases in the reading and studying of Scripture.

"Hugh of St. Victor stressed the importance of the literal or historical sense of sacred Scripture as the basis of theology's effort to unite faith and reason in understanding God's saving plan," the Holy Father said.

This theologian offered Christianity an explanation of the sacraments that is still useful today, the Pontiff added.

Richard of St. Victor was Hugh's disciple.

He "stressed the allegorical sense of the Scriptures in order to present a spiritual pedagogy aimed at human maturity and contemplative wisdom," Benedict XVI explained.

And Richard's "On the Trinity" is one of the great books of history, the Pope contended.

In it, he "sought to understand the mystery of the triune God by analyzing the mystery of love, which entails a giving and receiving between two persons and finds its perfection in being bestowed upon a third person." More>>

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Scimitarist Brinkmanship

Absolutely fascinating read from The UK Independent: Renouncing Islamism: To the brink and back again. And Barry Rubin analyzes it here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Peace, Be Still

Is there an official name for a heresy that I can only call "drivenness"? The health care reform, so-called, besides the obvious attempt to ramrod through the modernist evil of abortion, can be recognized as a huge and the latest dead horse to whip by all involved in public discourse.

Pull back farther. See that health care reform stands on the brink of a far greater reality, Mort. Death. So, a huge amount of time, energy, and (of course) money is changing hands in regards to it. Distraction from the omnivorous truth of our mortal lives takes all of the above: time, energy, and money.

One might make the case that health care reform is a last-ditch effort to avoid the nihilism to which our secular academia, governments, and politics have brought us. The air is literally filled with page after page of proposed bills that not merely flutter down upon us, but drive and lash us. Like mad people, we charge this way and that helter-skelter, careening into each other, trying to avoid the obvious.

Funny thing that. Don't have time to think about what is on the other side of health care: the death that faces every single person - great and small, wealthy or poor, influential or no-body. Mort doesn't play favorites.

One might suppose that my words are merely an attempt to sell a slim volume entitled A Little Guide for Your Last Days
. But the truth is, I wrote A Little Guide for Your Last Days because I seem to be intent on sending bits of me to temporal punishment in Purgatory on a kind of installment plan: a kidney, ureter, appendix, eye lens. You get the picture.

My "drivenness" or rather, my ability to BE driven, is growing more and more curtailed. But my plan isn't to bring as many friends and associates to a state of despair or existential dread. That, I believe, is what lies behind this heresy of drivenness. Rather, my hope is to help more people come to the Psalmist's imperative: "Be still, and know that I AM God."

Why not do it while one can with a good grace, rather than being chased by it like madcap, pitiable figures in some silent-film slap-stick escapade?
(H)e said to them, "Let us cross to the other side." Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"
- Mark 4,35b-41

Anxious and Worried about Many Things

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

- Lk 10:38-42

Ibrahim - Scimitar Doctrine & Ft Hood

A penetrating analysis on Scimitar doctrine, the Ft. Hood massacre, and Nidal Hasan by Raymond Ibrahim:

One of the difficulties in discussing Islam's more troubling doctrines is that they have an anachronistic, even otherworldly, feel to them; that is, unless actively and openly upheld by Muslims, non-Muslims, particularly of the Western variety, tend to see them as abstract theory, not standard practice for today. In fact, some Westerners have difficulties acknowledging even those problematic doctrines that are openly upheld by Muslims — such as jihad. How much more when the doctrines in question are subtle, or stealthy, in nature?

Enter Nidal Malik Hasan, the psychiatrist, U.S. Army major, and "observant Muslim who prayed daily," who recently went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, killing thirteen Americans (including a pregnant woman). While the media wonders in exasperation why he did it, offering the same old tired and trite reasons — he was "picked on," he was "mentally unbalanced" — the fact is his behavior comports well with certain Islamic doctrines. As such, it behooves Americans to take a moment and familiarize themselves with the esotericisms of Islam.

Note: Any number of ulema (Muslim scholars) have expounded the following doctrines. However, since jihadi icon and theoretician Ayman Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number two, has also addressed many of these doctrines in his treatises, including by quoting several authoritative ulema, I will primarily rely on excerpts from The Al Qaeda Reader (AQR), for those readers who wish to source, and read in context, the following quotes in one volume..More>>

Monday, November 23, 2009

With a Little Help from My Friends

Tapestry - John Henry Dearle

Washington, DC and Gomorrah

November 21, 2009

Sodom in the Nation's Capital

At a time when our country is sick, it shouldn't surprise that one our sickest places is our nation's capital.
The poverty rate of Washington, DC, almost 20 percent, is one of the highest in the nation. Its child poverty rate is the nation's highest. DC's public school system, with a graduation rate of less than 50 percent, is one of the worst in the country.
According to DC's HIV/AIDS office, three percent of the local population has HIV or AIDS. The Administrator of this office notes that this HIV/AIDS incidence is "...higher than West Africa...on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya." And the principal way that HIV is transmitted continues to be through male homosexual activity.
Amidst this dismal picture, the DC City Council, perhaps on the theory that serving up another glass of wine is the way to help a drunk, is scheduled to vote on December 1 to legalize same sex marriage in America's capital city.
Looking at realities in Washington, DC should make clear why George Washington said "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports." But the America that our first president had in mind was very different from the vision of our DC government officials.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Swing Time

But here, banned in Baghdad and by all fundamentalists everywhere, basically, is a tasty metaphor of the sacrament of holy matrimony for your Sunday evening viewing entertainment!

Better Than Sominex

And under the category of, This Will Make Us All Sleep Easier Tonight, there is this.

Consider the Source

Here is the impeccable (luciferian) logic you have come to expect at the UN:
Lock up your baby prams and strollers, or at least don't take them out in the daylight hours. Children are, according to one United Nations agency, the new enemy of climate change.

The latest report from the United Nations Population Fund was released on Wednesday at news conferences in Ottawa and other key venues where policy makers could be made aware of the news: more babies will undermine attempts to stop climate change..MORE>>

Hubris Comes Before a Fall

For those who argue that the "health care reform" (sic.) being rammed through the United States government is a mandate of the gospel, my dispute is this: the entire process from beginning to end has not been ostensibly a clearly stated way to "love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" - the First Great Commandment with a mind to care for all of God's human children, imago dei. Neither has it been done with the explicit mandate of the Second Great Commandment: "love your neighbor as yourself."

At most, it has been done with murky humanist motives - a slathering of benign concern for every single American citizen - legal or illegal - as a lump sum: all of the "humanity" in our country. But, as usual, "some animals are more 'equal' than others" in Orwell's inimitable turn of phrase from Animal Farm. And, as we know from common sense, there is no such thing as "humanity", only persons, and many of us.

What is being ramrodded is
not that all human beings stand on the same level at the foot of the Cross of Our Lord. Rather, a lump sum totality of American citizenry stands a-begging at the foot-stool of the Executive Branch and, soon, the Legislative Branch.

How concerned should persons be by this ramrodding? Mutatis mutandis. The best of our land, our governance, our civilization can be retained if - IF - we put the Cross and the gospel first:

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." - Jesus, Matthew 6,33

But anything, no matter now monumental and monolithic it seems, is liable to falling and crumbling (cf. Genesis 11) so long as it puts forth a puny ideological pipe dream with no regard to the Kingdom of God and putting first things first.

Hubris indeed comes before a fall.

Christ the King

Christ gives Himself in sacrifice; and that not only on Calvary. For when He was crucified He "did that in the wild weather of His outlying provinces which He had done at home in glory and gladness" (G. MacDonald). From before the foundation of the world He surrenders begotten Deity back to begetting Deity in obedience ... From the highest to the lowest, self exists to be abdicated and, by that abdication, becomes the more truly self, to be thereupon yet the more abdicated, and so forever.

- C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain