Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lenten Wilderness and Earth Science

The thing I love about teaching earth science to a gaggle of middle schoolers is that I get to (a) drop momentarily out of the mimetically-driven hall of mirrors of fallen human funny business for a brief time, and (b) consider the breath-taking facts of such things as plate tectonics and geologic time scale.

Take for instance Heather Catchpole's article, Islands of Fire, in which she visits New Zealand's hot spots and which I will let you read for yourself.
As I've said before, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

What stuff? Oh, like the fact the outer core of our planet is a billion trillion tons of molten iron spinning at 1,000 mph, thus creating the electromagnetic field that comes out one pole, around the planet, and reenters it at the other pole, protecting us from the same solar radiation that scoured Mars when its EM field collapsed? (Don't worry. Ours won't collapse for many millions of years. We are, however, overdue for a reversal of our EM field; meaning, our Boy Scout compasses will all, then, point south.) Go write something like that and try to find a literary agent who will find it "credible".

Read Catchpole's article (above). It may explain why Our Lord went to the wilderness (besides being tempted by Satan), far from the maddening crowd.

Conversi ad Dominum

Well worth taking the time to read: Father Juan José Silvestre Valór's The Priest in the Offertory of the Mass.

King Pellinore is Dead

Alas. King Pellinore - Lionel Jeffries - is dead at age 83. I felt the same loss when Ed Wynn died.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Millais - PRB

Joan of Arc (1865) - Sir John Everett Millais
(Wiki Commons)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Peter Lyon - Making Sting

If you enjoy workmanship, I suggest that you watch this film of master sword maker, Peter Lyon , replicating Bilbo and Frodo's knife-sword, Sting. When Weta went looking for a sword maker for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy, they were amazed to find Peter Lyon an half-hour away from their workshop. Enjoy.

McGrath - Norms and Values

We criticize the German Christians for obeying Hitler, conveniently choosing to overlook that they were simply submitting themselves to the prevailing cultural norms. We 
are doing the same today by allowing ourselves and our churches to follow societal norms and values, irrespective of 
their origins and goals. To allow our ideas and values to become controlled by anything or anyone other than 
the self-revelation of God in Scripture is to adopt an ideology rather than a theology; it is to become controlled by ideas and values whose origins lie outside the Christian tradition 
- and potentially to become enslaved to them.

- Alister McGrath

The Bard and the 'Old Religion'

Brad Miner at The Catholic Thing takes up a topic near to my own heart; namely, the world's best and dearest closest Catholic, the Bard. If interested in more evidence, visit the sidebar category, Shakespeare.

Zmirak - Taking Back Our Mass

Oh my. Two "For the Records" in a row. Mea culpa. However, it is too important not to note: John Zmirak's All Your Church Are Belong to Us. A must-read for us converts who didn't enter full communion with Mother Church as Trad Rads and sometimes wonder what's the fuss.

Under Whose Standard Do You March

For the record: Father Angelo's entrance piece for the beginning of this holy season: Getting something done this Lent.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday - Carl Spitzweg - the end of Carnival.

From the Shrine of the Holy Whapping archives, Matthew Alderman ruminates on Ash Wednesday:
Chesterton once imagined a long procession of mysterious priests with their strangely-shaped mitres, hooked croziers, their incense and bells, and their sacred books--what possesses us to leap upon them, disregarding everything else, and seize the Bible from their hands, crying out for sola scriptura, when they, with all their antique ways of mind and worship, were the first to call it sacred? There's always a deeper logic there, if we dig, or if we simply choose to trust in the vast and occasionally cobwebby mansion that is both Tradition and tradition. Public penitence--whether flamboyantly physical or merely simply passing on the cheesecake--is part of the Catholic landscape, and the Catholic imagination. (And I won't pretend that can't get disturbing sometimes, but there it is, no apologies--though the Church has always stressed moderation). We're no angels. We're not supposed to be. While the best thing is a chastened soul, sometimes the only way to get there is via the body. No dessert menus, thanks. Check, please?
More here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NYT - Tea Parties

The NYT take on the Tea Party movement here.

Pipes - The Strong Horse

Daniel Pipes reviews Lee Smith's new book, The Strong Horse:
Smith takes as his prooftext Osama bin Laden's comment in 2001, "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse." What Smith calls the strong-horse principle contains two banal elements: Seize power and then maintain it. This principle predominates because Arab public life has "no mechanism for peaceful transitions of authority or power sharing, and therefore [it] sees political conflict as a fight to the death between strong horses." Violence, Smith observes is "central to the politics, society, and culture of the Arabic-speaking Middle East." It also, more subtly, implies keeping a wary eye on the next strong horse, triangulating, and hedging bets.

Smith argues that the strong horse principle, not Western imperialism or Zionism, "has determined the fundamental character of the Arabic-speaking Middle East." The Islamic religion itself both fits into the ancient pattern of strong-horse assertiveness and then promulgates it. Muhammad, the Islamic prophet, was a strongman as well as a religious figure. Sunni Muslims have ruled over the centuries "by violence, repression, and coercion." Ibn Khaldun's famous theory of history amounts to a cycle of violence in which strong horses replace weak ones. The humiliation of dhimmis daily reminds non-Muslims who rules..More>>

Courtesy and Firmness

And right across the Channel, young French Catholics responded with “courtesy and firmness” to the latest effort to desecrate the Notre Dame de Paris, crying, "Habemus Papam!"

Sad But True

Joanna Bogle at Mercatornet writes:
... the fashionable emphasis on “genderless parenting” means that a simple truth has been ignored: children need both mothers and fathers, who relate to them in different ways. A family should not have to be politically-correct, and nor should its means of communication or discipline have to follow fashion. Families need to have a confidence in being what they are, and parents should be allowed and encouraged to make use of their best instincts and their common sense.

None of this seems to have reached government circles of thought. Do politicians and bureaucrats live on a different planet from the rest of us? Britain’s “Children’s Minister” announced, in response to the recent survey, that the new system of “happiness” classes at school and compulsory “personal, social, health and economic education” would resolve the problems, along with promotion of healthy eating habits.

It makes one despair. A child needs a secure home, and the knowledge that there is a moral code and a meaning to life. You cannot teach “happiness” in a classroom, and it is bizarre that a government is attempting to do so. Structure and discipline should form a framework in which a child can flourish, a sort of secure flower-pot in which the young plant thrives before it is put out into the larger flower-bed to bloom in the garden.

The angry, frightening young men and women who shriek and vomit and lurch about drunkenly in the streets of Britain’s towns and suburbs on summer nights are evidence that we are getting something terribly wrong. It is very weird when a nation is afraid of its own young.

It is possible to change, and to start making the right decisions and restoring wisdom and truth to the task of child-rearing. If we don’t, the future looks bleak.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chivalry and the Benedictine Rule

Scott Farrell's website, Chivalry Today, is a good effort at - aptly enough - applicability of chivalry from various perspectives in our age and times. A fine podcast there offers Prof. Craig Galbraith's Chivalry and the Benedictine Rule. Give a listen.

And, if you weren't aware of it, I recommend looking into the highly historical figure and model for the Arthurian torso’s Sir Galahad, the Cistercians' very own Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

'To Secure Western Civilization'

LTC Allen West is running for Congress. Diana West reports.

UPDATE: The Iconoclast reports on what LTC West is trying to avoid in the United States.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Scruton - Music and Morality

"David with his harp" Paris Psalter,
c. 960, Constantinople
Roger Scruton, philosopher and modern defender of truth, goodness, beauty, extols the virtues of the same in music:
Faced with youth culture we are encouraged to be nonjudgmental. But to be nonjudgmental is already to make a kind of judgment: it is to suggest that it really doesn’t matter what you listen to or dance to, and that there is no moral distinction between the various listening habits that have emerged in our time. That is a morally charged position, and one that flies in the face of common sense. To suggest that people who live with a metric pulse as a constant background to their thoughts and movements are living in the same way, with the same kind of attention and the same pattern of challenges and rewards, as others who know music only from sitting down to listen to it, clearing their minds, meanwhile, of all other thoughts—such a suggestion is surely implausible.
Read more of Music and Morality here.

Quinquagesima Sunday

Saint Peter weeping before the Blessed Virgin on the first Holy Saturday (1647)
Guercino (Image from Vultus Christi)

On this Quinquagesima Sunday, Father Mark explains holy compunction.