Recently in Arts & Culture Category

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

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Margaret Cabaniss, at insidecatholic.com, joins Vanity Fair's Paul Cullum in sniffing at the work of decorative painter Thomas Kinkade.

On the one hand, I have to admit his stuff is not great art. It's dreamy, nostalgic, sentimental, formulaic, and escapist. So what? It's decorative. On that score, at least it's better than a painting made of elephant droppings.

I'm not a fan of his works by any means, but it bothers me to see good writers fall into the snobbery attached to most criticism of Kinkade.

Vanity Fair and other elites would ignore Thomas Kinkade altogether but for one reason: he portrays Protestant Christian small-town America as a comforting milieu, whereas the elites insist that it was oppressive to the core.

I'm a Catholic nitwit

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It appears that Philip Pullman thinks I'm a Catholic nitwit.

Here is the response I just emailed to the Times On-line:

I pity poor Philip Pullman

The man spends years of his life objecting to Christianity, and now he apparently objects to Christians objecting to his objections. Mr. Pullman even resorts to stereotyping and name-calling when responding to critics like myself. Ironically, his are the same tactics employed by the evil magesterium in his novels.

I would believe such behaviour unbecoming of an award-winning children's author. Certainly Mrs. Rowling has always been graceful in responding to her critics. (And as both a fan and a critic of her work, I was disappointed when the last chapter of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" neglected to Luna Lovegood's future). However, when the average reader is trusted as Mr. Pullman suggests, the number of book sales establishes Mrs. Rowling - a Christian - as clearly the better author.

Cordially,
Pete Vere
Catholic nitwit and co-author of the forthcoming Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children's Fantasy

Two angles on Oedipus Rex

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Now that I'm trying out semi-retirement, I'm filling in some of the gaps in my education, and today I read the play Oedipus the King for the first time. Having only a minimal acquaintance with the story's outline, I'm struck to find that the story's horrible crimes (parricide, incest) aren't presented as arbitrary results of blind fate, but are rooted in an older crime, a long-hidden attempt to kill a child. In a way, the later horrors were a divine vengeance (or nature's vengeance) for that failed act of infanticide.

To me, the devastating force of the play's revelations comes not from the attempted infanticide alone, but from the mother's consent to it: in putting her husband's interests first, Iocasta makes a perverse substitution of husband for child that eventually proves mortal to both parents.

Other folks are paying attention to this play too: a Maryknoll sister recently helped a group of inmates at Sing Sing put on a production of Oedipus the King in November.

(Incidentally, further down, that page has reviews of Sr. Chan's own 2003 play that takes on China's ruthless one-child policy.)

Truly, Time has descended into asinine self-parody:

Time Magazine's Person of the Year: You
NEW YORK (AP) - Congratulations! You are the Time magazine "Person of the Year."
The annual honor for 2006 went to each and every one of us, as Time cited the shift from institutions to individuals - citizens of the new digital democracy, as the magazine put it. The winners this year were anyone using or creating content on the World Wide Web.
"If you choose an individual, you have to justify how that person affected millions of people," said Richard Stengel, who took over as Time's managing editor earlier this year. "But if you choose millions of people, you don't have to justify it to anyone."
Thanks, editor dudes!

They're starting with Esther, but I'm really looking forward to a cinematic treatment of the book of Judith.

Gregorian pop

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I guess the boy band trend survived in Europe after a fashion: here's a bunch of guys who dress up in robes and sing Gregorian-style arrangements of pop tunes. Here are some of their videos: one with Sarah Brightman and one with some waif named Desireles; and a U2 song. There are also fan-made videos with the group's renditions of "Stairway of Heaven" and a tune by "Green Day".

It seems to be a totally artificial project of some music producer, and somewhat laughable in the way of certain European pop groups, but the fact that this is popular is a good sign.

Update: LOL: Another group is doing the same thing in Polish.

Is money starting to talk?

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It looks like Over the Hedge is holding its own against the anti-Catholic DVC movie, and even edged it out Friday.

Summer Theater

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The Epiphany Studio theater company is touring around Minneapolis/St. Paul this summer with its one-man play about the martyrdom of the young St. Maria Goretti and the conversion of her murderer Alessandro.

I spent the past week in Blind River, a community of about 3000 in a peaceful part of Northern Ontario. It was great! No internet, no television, choppy cell phone service and some of the most beautiful tracts of nature to fall within a friendly community.

Every Thursday evening in Blind River the local Legion Ladies Auxiliary holds its charity Bingo. Given that all my co-workers are ladies who enjoy playing Bingo, they invited me to join them. I purchased the smallest Bingo card package at the door and my supervisor passed me a bingo dabber.

"Make sure you turn the cap upside down," she said. "It brings bad luck to the table if turns right side up."

I glanced around me. Sure enough, everyone's cap was upside down. I had only been to a Bingo once before in my life -- about fifteen years ago -- but I found this superstition ridiculous. Thus I grabbed my bingo dabber cap, turned it right side up, and slammed it down on the table.

Everyone around me gasped. "You'll bring bad luck to the table," they protested.

"I'm Catholic. My God trumps the god of Bingo."

The ladies just kinda stared at me for a moment, then went back to helping me get set up and play.

Throughout the evening, everyone at my table won a small Bingo pot except me. So our table was pretty lucky and my coworkers began to doubt this Bingo superstition.

Then came one of the last games of the evening with one of the largest pots. My supervisor said: "I have a feeling Pete is going to win this. If that happens, I will put all my caps right side up from now on."

I sorta laughed it off. I hadn't invoked God's name in the gamble, but against this silly Bingo superstition. Well God showed everyone that He wasn't bound by which way a dabber cap stood. I won the Bingo pot.

Today is the traditional date of Shakespeare's birthday, and also the day of his death. You may not have learned in school that Mr. Shakespeare may have been a closet Catholic; it is indisputable that he was surrounded by Catholics his entire life, and they must have had some influence over him. Wikipedia has a brief but cogent discussion of his possible religious committment(s).

Of course, today is an excellent day to visit Open Source Shakespeare.

Good Friday, 3 p.m.

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Detail of Grunewald's Isenheim Altarpiece

Below is an excerpt from an episode of "South Park." I gather that the show "Family Guy" is going to depict Mohammad (npffp) in an upcoming show. The speech defending free speech borders on eloquent; the crowd's reaction is sadly believable. Check it out.

Anne Rice, penitent

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Gothic novelist Anne Rice attempts a story about the most mysterious Person in history. Newsweek's David Gates writes:

Rice knows "Out of Egypt" and its projected sequels—three, she thinks—could alienate her following; as she writes in the afterword, "I was ready to do violence to my career." But she sees a continuity with her old books, whose compulsive, conscience-stricken evildoers reflect her long spiritual unease. "I mean, I was in despair." In that afterword she calls Christ "the ultimate supernatural hero ... the ultimate immortal of them all."

Mmmmmmm

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WBC
The Washington Bach Consort will be playing the B-Minor Mass at the Strathmore on Friday. The choir is always extremely well-prepared, as is the "period" orchestra, although we will certainly pity the poor hornist who has to play "Quoniam" on a corno di caccia, as well as the three trumpeters who will surely lose some grey matter during the performance of the work. (Should you want to hear a "period" orchestra, try the samples for this recording of the Bach.)

Dance Dance Resurrection

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Speaking of faith and culture, here's a genre I had no idea about: the Christian dance/electronica music scene. As DJ redsavior points out, this phenomenon is so small as to truly deserve the name 'underground'. Is Victor Lams up on this?

I'll give March of the Penguins a B+: it's a G-rated documentary, sometimes amazing, sometimes touching, about the family life of emperor penguins. It centers on their long trek from the Antarctic ocean to their inland mating grounds. After egg-laying, the females return to the ocean to feed, each leaving her male behind to keep their egg warm for months.

I described the idea to a co-worker, and she said, "I can understand that: you gotta go shoppin'!"

[Another favorite Wanderer column.]

Of Canons and Culture...
20,000 Canadians Rally for Marriage

Pete Vere

About a month ago, I attended a rally for traditional marriage that was organized by occasional Catholic-Exchange contributor John Pacheco and FreeDominion.org. As one of the speakers reminded us, the date was April 9th – exactly one week after the death of Pope John Paul the Great. It seemed a little strange hearing the speaker refer to John Paul II as “the Great” so soon after his death. Whereas I personally have no problem with this papal honorific, the speaker was a Protestant minister and a staunch Calvinist. Perhaps the Holy Spirit was telling us that John Paul II is predestined to be remembered as the Great.

As the crowd grew, John assigned me to patrol the security zone separating the Muslims from the homosexual counter-protesters. One could distinguish the latter by their rainbow dyed hair (how cliche), their multiple body piercings (it helps them jingle to Kumbya), and their Betty Davis eyes (but without the makeup).

Since some will accuse me of stereotyping, I will also mention the cleric from some unknown sect. Predictably, he came vested in a pink and purple stole. I also witnessed two portly men of which one appeared to be in his late forties and the other in his early sixties. They wore scruffy beards, bright coloured shirts and tight sweat pants. I would have preferred to keep my eyes to myself, but the odd couple insisted upon locking themselves arm-in-arm and skipping through my security zone. I gained a new respect for the Hijab as a Muslim mother pulled her children into her veil and covered their eyes.

If you believe the police and the more moderately leftist media, the counter-protesters numbered about three hundred. Yet the rest of the mainstream leftist media numbered the counter-protesters at around a thousand. The discrepancy comes as no surprise for those who follow the culture war. After all, sex education now takes precedence over mathematics in our public school system. Of course none of the mainstream media mentioned the pasty white complexion of each and every counter-protester.

As one who supports God’s definition of marriage, I stood amidst a multi-ethnic and multi-racial sea of Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Evangelical Protestants, Chinese Christians, Native Aboriginals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and other people. We felt the great pull of multiculturalism as we united in defence of marriage. We were even joined by a group of homosexuals who are sick of their more radical cohorts constantly antagonizing the general public. In contrast to the diversity exemplified within our movement to protect the natural definition of marriage, the pro-homosexual “marriage” counter-protesters struck me as distinctly caucasian.

Unenlightened as we multi-ethnic and multi-religious neanderthals are, the police estimated our numbers on Parliament Hill at between fifteen-and-twenty thousand strong. Various subsequent protests in other major Canadian cities are also drawing in the thousands. This is unusual for our apolitical country. The government can no longer pacify the average Canadian citizen with hockey, socialized healthcare and donuts.

As a consequence of so-called “same-sex marriage” and several multi-million dollar corruption scandals, Canadians are now standing up to politicians. The latest scandal may still bring down the governing Liberals before they can force sodomite marriage upon our country. We are also standing to defend marriage from the robed masters of Canada’s judiciary. This is the same arrogant group that currently threatens Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary. The bishop’s crimes have nothing to do with minors and illicit sex, at least not in the Catholic sense. His Excellency is being persecuted for his audacity to proclaim to Catholic youth that homosexual sex in sinful. Catholic teaching now constitutes “hate speech” in Canada.

Finally, we are sending a message to the Canadian mainstream media. The majority of Canadians believe in the sanctity of marriage. We will no longer listen to the CBC’s twaddle undermining the institution of marriage. Nor will we fear the Canadian mainstream media’s attempts to brand us as bigots. For my American readership, the CBC stands for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It ought to stand for Communists Belittling Christians. The CBC allows the government to funnel our tax dollars to otherwise unemployable leftist without calling it welfare.

I happened to have my own run-in with a CBC reporter at the march. If his purple-striped pink tie did not betray his bias, I found it suspicious that he only interviewed white elderly people of a liminal fundamentalist Protestant variety. Of course the reporter denied any bias when I confronted him. Nevertheless, neither he nor his camera man could explain why they had only interviewed white people. After all, the majority of Canadians who came to Parliament Hill in support of traditional marriage were not of caucasian origin.

Yet the reporter refused to acknowledge his bias. “You should watch the segment before you judge the CBC,” he said between clenched teeth.

“No thanks,” I replied. “Thanks to Fox News, I no longer have to settle for the CBC.”

I barely suppressed a smile as the reporter’s complexion turned the same shade of purple as the stripes on his tie. Coincidentally, one of my friends subsequently emailed me this reporter’s segment as it appeared on the evening news. I noticed that the reporter had edited the segment, peppering it with interviews from various ethnic communities. He even appeared to quote these folks in context, which allowed them to sound like normal human beings.

This is the first example of unbiased reporting I have seen from the CBC on this issue. But if the Church can elect Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, perhaps my fellow Canadians can reach the tipping point in the culture war.

Hurting the innocent

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Paige is still in the hospital with Molly, so I just watched a violent movie I knew she wouldn't see: "The Passion of the Christ." Though I wrote about it here several times last year — or more specifically, I wrote about the hysterical reaction to it — I hadn't seen it until tonight.

I was surprised at how much the movie didn't surprise me, probably because I had already read so much about it. It was so transparently grounded in the Faith that I experienced it more as a simple visual representation of Jesus' suffering and death than as an art object. There was no effort to convince, or even to teach. If you didn't know who Jesus was, or what he did prior to Holy Thursday, "The Passion" will not tell you because those things lie outside its scope. The images are so stark and the plot so barren of any narrative tricks that the subtitles were almost superfluous.

It's too much to hope, but perhaps other filmmakers will take up related projects. They needn't be believers; Robert Bolt wrote "A Man for All Seasons" and "The Mission" and he was not a praticing Christian, though he was sympathetic to those who are. Gibson did excellent work in fleshing out the characters of Pilate and his wife, and clever artists could take other biblical characters (Barabbas, Thomas, Paul) and turn them into protagonists of other movies.

It did surprise me that "The Passion" didn't make me pity Jesus' suffering as much as I thought I would, but perhaps that is a good thing. It seems to me that pity is a very dangerous emotion, capable of belittling its object. Pity puts the focus on the one who pities, not the one who has suffered misfortune. I felt the same way when I saw my fellow Marines injured. I helped them to my utmost, but I wouldn't have expected anyone to feel sorry for me if I had been wounded. We were Marines — we were supposed to suffer. It would have been ignoble to consider one's own suffering as more important than someone else's.

Similarly, I have never been disturbed by movies with scenes of battlefield violence, but I find it extremely difficult to watch the innocent and helpless suffer. I don't know how I made it through "Schindler's List," vowing never to watch it a second time. That is why, more than Jesus, it was Mary's pain that grieved me deeply. God is impassible and immutable; my personal sins cannot injure him in his divine nature. But seeing my sins contribute to a mother having to watch her son tortured to death is horrifying. I understand why God suffered for our salvation, but her? Why her? At least Joseph died a quiet death before the Crucifixion.

The answer, as "The Passion" explicitly shows, is that God wanted Our Lady to help guide and nurture the infant Church, just as she held baby Jesus to her breast after his birth. Yet we are all still culpable for piercing her sinless heart with the results of our sins, something I first contemplated when I wept in front of the "Pietá" in St. Peter's, long before I took the Faith seriously.

We try to ignore it, but the effects of our misdeeds careen around the world, affecting people who aren't directly involved. Happily, the converse is also true: our good deeds spill out and cascade through others' lives. I pray that for myself, and for all of us, the latter deeds outweigh the former.

Whining doesn't really help

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A friend forwarded an e-mail protest petition to me about the coming DaVinci Code movie, but I'm not signing on.

For one thing, the group putting on the campaign, TFP, is already suspect in my book: operating as a blasphemous personality cult for its Brazilian founder, TFP was condemned by the bishops of that country in 1985. He's dead now, but the organization carries on, using the outrage at offensive anti-Christian movies to attract supporters and raise money for itself.

Furthermore, complaining about the movie isn't enough. The false philosophy and spirituality in the book and movie do damage to souls. As this Presbyterian fellow writes, the book presents its own spirituality which a lot of people find attractive instead of the authentic message of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

All the complaint campaigns, all the TFP postcards sent to Sony Pictures and all the Catholic League press releases issued by Bill Donohue, protesting that studios and publishers feel entitled to insult Christianity without rebuke, won't undo that harm to souls.

A more serious response, an effort to communicate to the public, to correct the erroneous ideas in the DVC is needed. As usual, the protest petition came with a request to send "$25 or $50 or even $100" to spread the campaign further, but $50 worth of whining postcards won't really help souls. If somebody were putting together a media evangelization project to counter the errors in the DVC, that would be worth a donation.

Was anyone else skeptical of computer-generated movies when they first started coming out? When I read about "Toy Story," I was more than skeptical. The name was dumb. The company that made it, Pixar, was created by Steve Jobs, the too-clever-by-half co-founder of Apple. How could they cut humans out of the creative process? And so on.

Somehow, my lovely girlfriend (now wife) convinced me to see "Toy Story" on videotape, and to my shock, I completely loved it. Before we started having kids, I saw it three times, and I've seen it twice with them.

There hasn't been a Pixar movie I disliked, yet every time a new one comes out, I still go through the same cycle: hearing about it and thinking it will be lame, reluctantly seeing it because of good reviews, and then thinking it's the most innovative and compelling film I've seen in a long time. Maybe I have difficulty believing that they can equal or top their previous works.

True to the pattern, when "The Incredibles" opened, I was unenthusiastic. Nothing about the plot sounded compelling — family of superheroes doing super stuff, yawn — and I never saw it in the theater.

Which is something I now regret. Paige bought the DVD the weekend it came out, and not only did I find it completely mesmerizing, by the time it was halfway over I thought, "When can I see this again?"

Like J.S. Bach, Pixar is content to work within existing genres. Dramatically speaking, "The Incredibles" breaks no new ground. Not only is the plot conventional, you've seen most of the visual tropes in at least a dozen other action-adventure movies, like the hero chained up after being caught by the bad guy, or the superhero protagonists striking a pose right before they fight their enemies. The score contains overt references to the early James Bond movies.

But like Bach, so much inventive genius is poured into this film that it seems completely new. At Pixar's birth, people assumed that if it was successful, it would be because it harnessed the nascent power of computer graphics. In reality, they are the most successful studio in Hollywood because they grasped something very old: that plot, character, theme, and spectacle (in that order) are the keys to making good drama, just like Aristotle taught twenty-four centuries ago.

Also, the studio makes family-oriented entertainment without descending into blandness or cloying preachiness. The original beginning of "The Incredibles," shown in rough form on the bonus DVD, showed Elastigirl as a new mother, getting insulted by a career woman who thought being a full-time mom was a dumb choice. Incensed, Elastigirl gives a speech about there would be much less evil in the world if more parents spent time raising their own kids, et cetera. Though I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, the revised beginning is far better — the pro-motherhood message is subtly woven through the movie, which makes it more effective, not less. And besides, even without delivering any lectures, Elastigirl is self-evidently a total badass.

Celebrating human excellence, and how insane it is to pretend that some people's special gifts aren't really special, is the other important thematic thread. "The Incredibles" could be seen as a satire in the same vein as "Harrison Bergeron," the only thing Kurt Vonnegut wrote that's worth reading twice. Not allowing the gifted to excel doesn't hurt the gifted folks, the movie says, as much as society in general. One might think of the way people insist that Jesus, Mary, and the saints were "just like us," which is true if you mean they shared our human nature. But they were better than us, qualitatively better, and if we want to be better ourselves, we should try to emulate them, not pull their memories down to our level to please our complacent, lazy souls.

I could go on, but I won't, because lots of you have already seen "The Incredibles." If you haven't, and the philosophical aspects don't entice you, rent it for the sheer joy. You will care more about those cartoon movie people than most live-action movie people. (There's an essay waiting to be written about how animated characters are looking more and more realistic, and "real" actors look less and less.)

In the "making of" documentary, Brad Bird, the director and writer, says that the movie's goal was to fuse "the mundane and the fantastic." Kind of like the immanent and the transcendant. Sounds like a formula for lasting success.

Eric at "The Edge of Reason"

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The following is a chronology of me watching Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. All times are approximate.

Movie Start minus 3 minutes, 23 seconds — Why is there a commercial for "Joey" before the movie? Is that show still on? If so, why?

MS-2:09 — Another television ad, this time for a DVD set of "Will and Grace." I like movie previews, but what's with the TV ads? Man, that Jack guy is annoying. He's kind of a Stepin Fetchit for the gays.

MS+1:04 — Finally, the movie is starting. I forget, what was the original Bridget Jones about? All I remember is her kicking drug dealers' butts and wearing a big afro. Oh, wait...that was "Cleopatra Jones."

MS+10:58 — Already bored. Not a good sign.

MS+18:34 — Rene Zellweger looks completely dreadful. Horrible hair and bloated, unhealthy-looking body; ill-fitting and unflattering clothes. I used to think people were being superficial when they commented on actors' looks, but I've changed my mind. They're supposed to look good, or at least not bad. That's their job. God made the human form beautiful, and there's nothing wrong with appreciating it.

MS+22:27 — Not only is she bad looking, she makes it worse with her personality. She keeps talking about sex — not romance, but the act itself, and how wonderful it is that she's found someone to copulate with her. Needy, neurotic, paranoid and charmless...what man wouldn't want that?
Her boyfriend, Colin Firth, would be screaming and running away from her if he were a real person.

MS+24:20 — Hugh Grant! Finally! I want to dislike you because you are far more suave and handsome than I am, but you are hilarious and charming. Surely you will make this movie more bearable for me.

MS+49:31 — Tomorrow I should clean the garage...I wonder if there will be time to weed the front garden, because it sure needs it...does Chris need his air compressor back?...I think it's time for a glass of port....

MS+1:00:09 — I have now spent an entire hour watching this vulgar slattern. Where are you, Hugh? Come back and do something amusing!

MS+1:17:02 — She is not leading those Thai girls in a song-and-dance number to Madonna's "Like a Virgin." I'm going to the bathroom.

MS+1:31:51 — Why are Hugh and Colin fighting over that woman? Now Paige is telling me that this is like the fight from the first movie, of which I have almost no recollection.

MS+1:43: — At last, the end credits. I have no problem with "date movies" per se, nor do I hate the "chick flick" proper, but this movie was truly a pandering piece of tripe. I wish we had watched "The Incredibles" again, and I bet Paige does, too.

No big deal, says Fr. Foster

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In a radio chat, the Carmelite Reginald Foster comments on the Pope's first speech, which he translated into Latin for the Holy Father. He says the fact of the speech is no big sign of a shift to Latin: Pope John Paul II made his first speech in Latin also, as did his predecessor, and so on.

As for the style: "Most people say it's very clear and simple, and runs along, and -- depends on the inflection of his voice, I can hear his voice... If you pronounce it well, it's -- a dog could understand it!"
Interviewer: "Pope Benedict XVI: does he speak Latin with a German accent at all?"
"Oh, for sure.... oh, real -- whaddaya say -- real square and chunky, it's chunky (laughs) well, that's German, got it?"

Here's audio from Vatican Radio, about seven minutes: MP3 (4.1MB). For Linux users, I recommend the Ogg Vorbis format (2.2MB).

Standing up for Jesus! Up there!

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The saint who did this par excellence was St. Simeon the Stylite: for thirty or forty years he lived as a hermit at Antioch, up in the air on a platform. Some years he spent all of Lent standing, as a penance. (Don't try this at home, kids.)

In that situation he wasn't really hidden away from the world: he wrote letters to people far away, including the Emperor, and preached to crowds of people below who came to visit him. There are tales about him, of course, including the one about how he healed and converted a great serpent.

Simeon.pngBritish film student Leo Earle takes St. Simeon as his inspiration for some playful animations, and updates the scene by placing the saint on top of a high-rise apartment block.

While you're dropping in at Leo's, also see his short films Washing Up Liturgy and The Dark Night, and a photo project, Saints on the Paris Metro.

Lucas showing his dark side

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This might seem like a surprising statement to see on a Catholic blog, but I'm glad "Revenge of the Sith" will be rated PG-13. Just because a movie is inapproprate for 12-year-olds doesn't make it morally objectionable, and frankly, I think the "Star Wars" series needs to get a little more edgy.

"Sith" has to show the transformation of Anakin Skywalker from whiny, pouting brat to a dark menace with James Earl Jones' voice. I have very low expectations here. George Lucas lost interest in human beings a long time ago, and in all likelihood, the movie will be a pile of poop.

I'll still see it, though.

Postscript: My older son, Charlie, has wanted to name our new baby Luke, after Luke Skywalker, if it's a boy. Now he wants to name him Michael, after Michael the Archangel — but he wants his full name to be Michael Skywalker Johnson.

This masterpiece is fitting as we pray for the Pope, for the Church and for the entire world. May the peace of Christ, and the knowledge that he has done the will of God, be upon our Holy Father in his final hours.

I play better after a few, too.

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"The village police chief was surprised when he woke up in the middle of the night to find a man inside his home playing Beethoven on the piano...[the man] was drunk and looking for a friend's house when he mistakenly wandered into the wrong place early Monday. [...]The chief added that [the man] played perfect Beethoven."

Source

Ashes, Part II

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Charles has an interesting point in the comments below this post.

It emphasizes the unfortunate fact that people like cheese.

Cheese being those tunes that are old-timey sentimental or broadway ballads turned to songs like "Jesus: Buddy, Friend, Pal!" They like being swept away emotionally, not thinking too much about the words and just having a nice time.

It's taken years for me to move my choir from a sizable amount of cheese to bite-sized portions. Every now and then we throw in "We Are Called" at the end of Mass and people in the congregation who aren't half-way to the donut shop sing with some gusto. That's probably the only thing that keeps me from throwing it into the proverbial trashbin like I did "I Believe."

For those of you not familiar with "I Believe" - take some extra time to today thank God. My ears still bleed from this juxtaposition of the Gounod "Ave Maria" and a doofy counter-melody. It turns into a screamfest at the end with half the choir singing at the very top of their range.

An evening with "Vanity Fair"

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This brief tale is a summary of the motion picture called "Vanity Fair," which made its debut last year. First, I should like to set the scene, so that you may know the circumstances under which it was viewed. I should think that other reviews would benefit by providing such knowledge to readers; it does violence to the truth unless a writer reveals, exemplo gratia, that he traveled to the motion picture theatre after a bitter dispute with his wife, or, in Roger Ebert's case, if his gout was acting up that evening.

On the way home from my place of employment last Friday, I had decided to cleanse my soul by participating in the sacrament of reconciliation. One of the parishes near my home, named for Saint Louis of France, distributes God's merciful grace at half-past five in the evening. To my chagrin, when I arrived at thirty-four minutes past the hour, there were already a dozen people ahead of me. My own parish is known for its strict approach to the Holy Faith, but Saint Louis makes it look like Unitarians of the Loose Observance. Judging that I would not be able to return home for another hour, and knowing that my expectant wife would want me home sooner, I prayed before the exposed sacrament, and left the church, resolving to return in the next day or two.

I stopped at a pastry shop down the road from my home, which closes at the hour of six, several minutes before I journey past it in the evenings. The shop is known for its fine sweet confections, and most of the persons behind the counter are young ladies who live in that locality. Its sole detraction is that male youths are attracted to the ladies, like vultures to carrion. I enquired if they had any chocolate desserts, which my wife regards with great delight. The handsome shop-maiden guided me through my selections, which later turned out to be exquisite. As she helped me, the young lady was quite pleasant, and as I completed the transaction she smiled and bade me goodbye in such a way as to suggest that my presence was not entirely disagreeable to her. For a man of my advancing years, this was indeed flattering.

I will not detail the portion of the evening devoted to cajoling and issuing threats unto the Johnson children, at least the three that are not in utero, as those events are unedifying. At last, when the children were in their bedrooms, I piled high the logs and set a gloriously bright, warm fire in our hearth. I poured a cup of fresh coffee for myself, and steeped a cheerful cup of Earl Grey for my wife, and we began to eat and drink and (you were wondering if this was ever going to come) watch "Vanity Fair."

The first difficulty with the motion picture was apparent, for you see, the heroine, Becky Sharp, is played by Mrs. Reese Witherspoon, whose personal charms are apparent, her skills in drama well-honed, but her countenance is that of a twenty-first-century woman, not of one who lived two centuries prior to our day.

Even more seriously, the pace of the drama was like that of an addled sufferer of heart disease. The film is based on the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, who besides having a name that is most unusual and enjoyable to pronounce (I urge you to try it), wrote works of great complexity and density of plot. I have viewed but one other filmed version of a Thackeray novel, entitled "Barry Lyndon," crafted by the misanthropic genius Stanley Kubrick, and its length is an hour longer than "Vanity Fair." That length seems more suitable to the scope of Thackeray's intent.

The actors made very little impression upon me, save for Romola Garai, whose performance I enjoyed, and whose face suited the time and place of the film, but I cannot in good conscience praise anyone who knowingly agreed to be in "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights," which I have not, in point of fact, actually seen, but the idea of which is as risible as "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo." The men were mostly nonentities; only Gabriel Byrne elevated himself. Mrs. Witherspoon gave her customary zeal, and the countless hours she doubtless spent with dialogue coaches paid off with her accent, which was plausible at the very least.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the moment when the film, to use a phrase that is foreign to the faux-Victorian idiom that I have adopted for this post, "jumped the shark." Becky organises a dance number for the king of Britain, and persuades aristocratic ladies to participate. The result looks much like a Madonna video, circa 1987, and it was enough to transform my hitherto ambivalent opinion about the film into mild dislike.

Johnny Carson, RIP

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I was 20 years old when Johnny Carson left the "Tonight Show," and I felt like the world was ending. To be specific, it was after he left, and Jay Leno took over. Instead of the big-band intro and the curtain parting for Johnny, it was a nebulous, tuneless modern jazz composition and about 500 computer-animated curtains before Mr. Big Face came out. The universe had shifted out of balance.

Until then, I hadn't realized how good Carson was. Truth be told, he was an average stand-up comic, and many of his jokes were downright lame. When it came to interviews, though, he was peerless. He had a way of reassuring nervous guests, even if it was their first time in front of a national audience. He never was nasty, or attempted to put himself front and center. Instead, he coaxed them into presenting themselves as well as they could. You always came away with a sense of the subject's personality, instead of Carson's.

The same year that Carson left, Governor Bill Clinton was elected president. Although I considered him a dishonest braggart, it didn't surprise me when he won. The Baby Boomers, having burned and pillaged their way through American society, were bound to have one of their own in the White House. But there was something about the "Tonight Show" transition that was unexpectedly jarring.

In retrospect, my discomfort probably sprang from a real generational shift. When I was growing up, I blamed the Boomers for screwing up a lot of things, but I comforted myself by thinking of the previous generation, which was still very much with us. Presidents Reagan and Bush were from that generation, as were my grandparents, all four of whom were alive then. Being young, I thought the Boomer takeover was always someday in the future. But when Johnny disappeared behind the curtain, that day had arrived, at least to me.

Fashion blog speaks eternal truth

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Check out "Manolo for the Men," a men's fashion blog that somehow I came across last week. I would have thought a fashion blog might bore me to death (I am usually well-dressed, but never fashionable), but this proves again that compelling writing makes just about anything readable, even if it's written in (probably fake) broken English. To wit:

...The Vivienne Westwood, she has long specialized in the fashion for the adolescent who cries out for the attention. The perfect look for the angst-ridden, rebellious teenager, but not the look for the serious adult. The grown up peoples they require the grown up clothes.

Do not denigrate the importance of looking "normal". Fashion it is about looking good, not seeking out the look of the abnormal, or the outre, or the purposely ridiculous.

Manolo says, the true radical in the serious well-cut, well-tailored clothes is the one whose thoughts, talents, and actions will change the world. The attention-seeking adolescent in the motley clothes of the fool, this person is merely the comedic sideshow.

Those words apply to many areas of human life: in theology, politics, the arts, and family life, the challenge isn't to make something new, but rather to guide that which exists to something higher.

In this, the Manolo he has expressed the truth!

Exporting US pop culture

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For better or worse, it goes everywhere.

Robert H. Bork remembers his ambivalence in 1989 as the Berlin Wall came down and dungarees and rock music poured into the former East Germany.
"You almost began to want to put the wall back up," says the former Supreme Court nominee, a tart critic of American popular culture.
If there is one proposition on which Western European elites and radical Islamists, American social conservatives and snobby latte town aesthetes all seem to agree, it is this: American popular culture is a subversive thing.
The WashTimes' Scott Galupo looks at a complaint that brings Judge Bork, Jacques Chirac, and even Mullah Omar down on the same side.

...of Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal on Of Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal on Allison Woo's photoblog. I would link the image here but I don't want to run afoul of copyright laws. Click away - it's stunning! A strange thing I noticed, a sanctuary lamp is in the foreground but there is no candle in it.

50 Years Ago, a Grand Pianist Caught Washington's Ear

An article on the silver anniversary of Glenn Gould's concert debut in Washington, DC. Listen, you classical music fans, if you don't have any of his recordings in your collections, stop what you are doing and get one. Start with his Bach recordings rather than the modern stuff, unless, of course, that is your bag. You won't be disappointed.

I get the impression that the Giant Turd, Michael Moore, really isn't very bright. I'm not saying that just because I despise him and everything he does in public. He's either kind of dumb, or being dumb is part of his schtick.

Granted, he is very manipulative, especially for the lemmings on the Left, and he is charismatic to the same folks. But I don't see much evidence that he has persuaded anyone except possibly the ignorant. He doesn't so much argue as throw facts around, many of them questionable, in an inflammatory manner, without regard to whether those facts contradict themselves.

For example, in his latest screed, the Turd says that "...America has never thrown a sitting president out during wartime. Thats the facts." But wait a sec, Mike...you said in your book "Dude, Where's My Country?" that there is no war on terror. I saw you on the "Today" show with my own eyes, and you said those exact words: "There is no war on terror." I wouldn't be surprised if you copyrighted the phrase, and sold t-shirts with it on your Web site.

So the war doesn't exist, but somehow that non-existent war managed to sink your candidate? Your candidate who, if you didn't notice, did think there was a war on terror, one that he could fight in a "more sensitive" manner?

How can those two statements possibly be reconciled? Does the Turd think that there isn't a war on terror, but Evil Karl Rove convinced 51% of the American population that there was, and therefore the faulty impression that George Bush was a wartime president was enough to defeat Kerry? Or maybe he doesn't remember his previous statement that there was no war?

It's all too much to contemplate on a Friday afternoon. Happy Christmas shopping this weekend.

And if this works out they are going to raise orphans to be Latinists and translate the 60% or so of philosophical works from the Medieval period that have not yet been translated. Yeah.

BANGKOK (AP) A massive airdrop of paper birds intended to promote peace failed to halt violence in Thailand's restive south, with a spate of new attacks Monday that targeted soldiers and local officials.
Do you think the writer who wrote "failed to halt violence" was laughing when he wrote it? I know I laughed when I read it.
The bombings, shootings and arson attacks came hours after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Sunday's airdrop of nearly 100 million Japanese-style origami cranes over the predominantly Muslim region had achieved an "enormous, positive psychological effect" toward peace.
Except for the fact that it touched off murder and property destruction, it was a great success.
Encouraged by the government, Thais across the country Cabinet ministers, office workers, schoolchildren and even convicts folded more than 130 million birds to promote peace in the south. Approximately 30 million will be delivered by land.
The land-delivered ones are probably flightless paper birds, like penguins or ostriches.

And here I thought California had all the whimsical peace nuts.

Thérèse

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An anonymous commenter at Barbara Nicolosi's blog summed the movie up well:

I saw the film and it's OK. The last half hour is excellent and I applaud them for taking this risk.
The last half hour has some wonderful moving moments, which make the flaws elsewhere in the film puzzling. The actors are at their best when they're conveying their characters' emotions, but at the beginning they're too understated. For that part of the movie, the girls seem less like living children rather than sedate figures from a series of tableaux, speaking Victorianese.

The film begins with the death of mother Zélie, so that we don't get to see what role she played in Therese's formation. It's a pity, since she's a Blessed along with her husband, and presumably a wonderful person, but the audience is left knowing virtually nothing about her. From then on, grief and sorrow take all their breath away, and only as the action starts to shift toward the Carmel of Lisieux does the movie come to life for the first time.

The best performance in the movie is that of Linda Hayden, whose Pauline provides the Marian, motherly, steadying complement to Lindsay Younce's Therese, as the saint is conformed to Jesus in her own 'Passion'.

Not in 96 minutes, and perhaps not in any one movie, can the story of St. Therese be told as it deserves. This film is however, a good companion to the 1986 Therese, which is the place to look for a better representation of Therese's thought and spirituality, but tells little about her early life. (Caution: it's not suitable for kids.)

For those of you blessed with worldly curiosity, figures on the box-office gross are on-line. The showing I attended Monday evening had about 12 viewers.

"The Dream of Gerontius" by Cardinal John Henry Newman

I joked a few days ago about taking a break from the daily news by listening to "The Dream of Gerontius" several times in an afternoon. I assure you that listening to it would have been time well spent. If you don't have the gumption to get a recording of it, follow the link to the poem. It might take you a hour to read, probably less.

Edward Elgar took Newman's poem and turned it into an oratorio. John posted some tidbits about it a couple of years ago.

It's a story of a man who dies and is led by his guardian angel to his judgement. I won't give away the surprise ending. But this part, which is the Angel of the Agony pleading with Jesus for mercy, is very moving:

JESU! by that shuddering dread which fell on Thee;
Jesu! by that cold dismay which sickened Thee;
Jesu! by that pang of heart which thrilled in Thee;
Jesu! by that mount of sins which crippled Thee;
Jesul by that sense of guilt which stifled Thee;
Jesu! by that innocence which girdled Thee;
Jesu! by that sanctity which reigned in Thee;
Jesu! by that Godhead which was one with Thee;
Jesu! spare these souls which are so dear to Thee,
Who in prison, calm and patient, wait for Thee;
Hasten, Lord, their hour, and bid them come to Thee,
To that glorious Home, where they shall ever gaze on Thee.

Back on 17th

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Hope everyone is having a great Labor Day weekend. Sonya, the girls and I are now moved into Ottawa and I begin the JCD coursework this Thursday. Spoke with the telephone guy this past Thursday, and our phone and internet access should be hooked up on the 17th, at which point I will begin blogging and answering email again. In the meentime, here's a little something to keep you going if you're looking for a canon law fix: Surprised by Canon Law.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

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Stop me if you've heard this one before.

A cleaner in the Tate Gallery threw out a bag of garbage because, after all, it was trash. But -- you know where this is going, right? -- it was part of a work of art.

Eventually the material was found, but it had to be replaced by the artist because -- if you can believe this -- it had been damaged.

Isn't there something wrong with that concept: the notion of garbage being "damaged"? I don't know if I can wrap my head around that. ("I'm sorry, sir, that garbage is not in good enough condition to throw out.")

Anyway, the wire-service folks should save this story for re-use, since it tends to happen in some modern art museum every couple of years, and the piece will be just as good next time. All they'll need to do is change the names.

"The Hour of Mercy"



The work of Scots Catholic artist Tommy Canning.

This is why I love the Web: articles like this one, which compares the reviews of "Fahrenheit 9/11" with "The Passion of the Christ." Can you guess which one received the better notices?

Michael Moore is bigger than Jesus. I mean that literally: given that people were smaller 2,000 years ago, he is bigger than the Holy Family and all twelve apostles put together.

But that's not important right now. Some people think "Fahrenheit 9/11" is going to be more popular than "The Passion of the Christ." That seems doubtful, even though the per theater average is about the same as "The Passion" on its opening weekend. Says the respected movie stat site Box Office Mojo:

Though Fahrenheit's $25,115 per theater average is extraordinary, it's not unprecedented. It ranks as the seventh highest all time for a wide release (adjusting for ticket price inflation knocks it down to no. 28) and the third best this year behind The Passion of the Christ's $27,554 and Shrek 2's $25,951. However, they were super-saturation releases playing at 3,043 and 4,163 theaters respectively -- the lower the theater count, the easier it is to have a high average as the release isn't diluted by less populous locations with lower ticket prices.
The author isn't an apologist for "The Passion"; he dumped on it when it opened, dragging out the tired "faith as the enemy of reason" canard. (By the way, did you know "The Passion" is still playing in 158 theatres four months after its release?)

It seems doubtful that "Fahrenheit 9/11" will top $600 million worldwide, which it would need to do to beat "The Passion." I'm sure it will be a hit, though, as the market for Bush-haters is looking bullish these days. (Whether that market is expanding is an open question.) Yet one of our readers, "jeff", is concerned that we are being insufficiently open-minded. To avoid misquoting him, his full comment is below (onomatopoeia in the original).

It's sad to me that people censor themselves - e.g., Michael Moore's film.

The America I know is one where people actually consider other points of view. Unlike some comments on this thread, I saw Fahrenheit 9/11... Do I agree with everything in it? Will it change my vote? Of course not. But, at least I can have a cogent discussion on the movie because I saw it.

Why are people so afraid of ideas that contradict their own? If your position is strong, films like Fahrenheit 9/11 will only add to it, not detract. Furthermore, when someone [who is ignorant] talks to you about the film, you can actually explain your [stronger] point of view.

The America of today seems to be: make your decision about whether to view/read/hear something based on second-hand information you read on some blog or heard on Fox News. Talk about being duped.

Sigh.


Jeff -- I refuse to use lowercase for his name, like e.e. "buster" cummings -- is, I gather, something of a First Amendment fetishist. That's okay, because some of my best friends are professional First Amendment fetishists (a.k.a. "journalists").

To clarify my own position, I will not be seeing the movie in question. Not in the theater, not on DVD, not on cable, not on network TV. Not in my house, not with a mouse, not in the dark, not with a lark...you get the idea. Yet I have absolutely no problem saying that in my considered, intellectual opinion, it sucks and I hate it.

To Jeff, this means I am "afraid of ideas that contradict [my] own." Untrue. If that were true, I would pay no attention to politics and would never listen to others' religious opinions.

The primary reason I won't see this movie is because I'm married with three little kids, and it's a lot of trouble for my wife and me to see a movie. It's also very expensive. An evening with a nice dinner, movie tickets for two, and a babysitter costs about $100 in this part of the country. For that price, when I see a movie in the theater I had better pass out from laughter or become a better person. I doubt either one will happen with "Fahrenheit." There are other reasons, enumerated forthwith.

Seeing the movie absolutely will not make me like it. That isn't true for a fictional movie. When I was away last year, I saw many movies I would not have seen unless I had nothing better to do. I thought I would have despised a teen comedy like "10 Things I Hate About You," but I found it hilarious and emotionally compelling. There were also movies I might have seen because I am married to a woman, such as "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," which were unwatchable and managed to temporarily lower my I.Q.

No such epiphany is possible for "Fahrenheit." My objection to the movie is not aesthetic, it is intellectual. It's not as if my sources are saying it has ugly cinematography and unbelievable characters. This is a documentary, which means it comes from a point of view and presents facts accordingly. I consider the point of view to be that of a lazy, paranoid pseudo-intellectual. There are many purported "facts" which are either misleading or false. For example, I've read that Moore thinks the Saudis run Bush's foreign policy. Seeing that slander on the silver screen isn't going to make it any less false.

I've heard it all before. Nothing he says is going to surprise me. I'm familiar with the "point of view" because I've seen it on the Loony Left Web sites, from which all of his "facts" seem to originate.

Self-censorship is a good thing. Nobody has unlimited time on Earth. We must use it as best we can. All points of view are not equally valid or worthy of our attention. That means we have to filter out experiences that are unlikely to be of any benefit.

Paying to see "Fahrenheit 9/11" would give money to someone beneath contempt. Jeff, you might not know this, but Michael Moore thinks more American soldiers and Marines should die in Iraq. You cool with that? If you think that's an exaggeration or distortion, let's let him speak for himself:

I'm sorry, but the majority of Americans supported this war once it began and, sadly, that majority must now sacrifice their children until enough blood has been let that maybe -- just maybe -- God and the Iraqi people will forgive us in the end.
You can read that quotation in context here.

I understand there is a smarmy part of "Fahrenheit" where he emphasizes that the poor and minorities are the only ones desperate (or dumb) enough to enlist in Bush's military. Thus he thinks it's unfortunate that anyone should join the armed forces, but if they do, then they deserve to be human sacrifices for our national sins.

When I read that, I thought I would beat his flabby ass if I ever saw him in person -- but what would be the point of that? It hardly seems like a Christian response (a whipping seems more appropriate), and it lacks style. Then I envisioned the perfect attack: spray him with Silly String. It isn't violent, and it would drive that pompous mountebank insane. It has a historical precedent: our Founding Fathers used Silly String to ridicule their British oppressors.

So I already know enough about "Fahrenheit" to devise an appropriate way to converse with Michael Moore about his "ideas." And I've done it without wasting an evening and a hundred bucks. That works on so many levels.

Postscript: Anti-Americans in other countries should just give up, because Moore demonstrates our cultural superiority. We're so great, we can even do anti-Americanism better than foreigners! Everybody start chanting now:
U! S! A!
U! S! A!
U! S! A!

The anti-Christian movie "Saved!" (don't forget the exclamation! point! at! the! end!) was released in hundreds of movie theaters two weeks ago. Why is it anti-Christian? Because Christians are portrayed as nasty, thoughtless, and intolerant, and the symbols and beliefs of Christianity are held up for ridicule. Other than that, it's very respectful, I'm quite sure.

Despite reflecting the film industry's general contempt for faith, movie reviewers are bothered by the movie. You might find that shocking -- are they saying that evangelical Christians deserve fair treatment, at least as fair as Muslims or Arabs? Nope. They are concerned because an unwed teen mother didn't consider killing her baby.

...You see, the main character, a high-school senior, gets pregnant while having sex with her gay boyfriend. She then carries their baby to term. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly lamented that the girl's "crisis is 'resolved' with a starry-eyed naivete that borders on the irresponsible. I wish that Saved! weren't a facile pro-life movie." Atkinson was likewise bothered by the way "the narrative fastidiously avoids . . . the possibility of abortion." Ditto for Denby. And double ditto for Salon's Stephanie Zacharek, who spent a quarter of her review on this lament.
The above is from Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard. He also writes this funny passage in a summary of the film's reviews:
Don R. Lewis, of Film Threat, wrote that Saved! is "a sweet and funny movie that starts off with bite but settles into an honest feeling of happiness and acceptance for all types of people and their choices." Of course, he doesn't really mean all types of people. He went on to note that the movie is "a gentle exploration of why the judgments of the Catholic church are so screwed up." (Saved! is about evangelical Christians--not Catholics--but you know how it is. They all look alike.)

Why I May Explode (Warning):

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Commencement exercises are tomorrow (my least, least, least favorite part of the year).
It's my least favorite time because of the repertoire. I enjoy Elgar, especially Enigma, Gerontius, and the other marches besides the ubiquitous one. I enjoy other English marches, too, particularly Crown Imperial and Orb and Sceptre, but we have to use the Elgar. It annoys me when people say, “It’s Traditional.” No, it isn’t. I don’t think Americans have very much of an understanding of what constitutes a tradition, not to mention what is worthy of tradition. Which march is co-opted for a procession at a high-school graduation IS NOT WORTH CRYING OVER. It’s JUST A MARCH. I would love a moratorium on its use until we’ve all forgotten about the diaper ads, the puppy-chow commercials, and the sundry high-school-band butcherings we’ve all seen and heard.

(None of the above argument applies to chant, by the way, for the following reasons:

1. Chant is sanctioned by the Magisterium. There’s no such thing in American academia.

2. Graduations are traditions of men, undoubtedly; the Mass isn’t.)

Johnny Costa's last album

Did I ever mention I love Johnny Costa? He was the Pittsburgh jazz pianist best known for his role as music director of the children's TV show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. He died in 1996 and there's a web site in his honor now.

For much of his career, he didn't make recordings: a few LPs in the '50s that are unavailable now, and then in the '90s, four CDs for Chiaroscuro Records. Now it turns out that he recorded one more album in '95, with Christmas and religious music, so I'll definitely be getting it. Will it be Catholic jazz?

Aquinas wine: the review

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On Friday, we consumed the bottle of Aquinas Chardonnay, mentioned in this space last week. Although there is always a Chardonnay bottle or two in the Johnson household, it's hard to match with food (which is strange, since it's incredibly popular) and so we usually drink it with smoked salmon or chicken.

Our Lord ate fish cooked on a charcoal fire after his resurrection, as the Bible says (John 21:9-13), and so it seems like an appropriate Friday meal, though I suppose Sunday would be just as good. With salmon grilled over charcoal and hickory, homemade bread, potatoes au gratin, and a light salad with vinaigrette, Aquinas Chardonnay was a great companion. It wasn't too fruity, had a surprisingly strong body for a $9 wine, and didn't have the taste that screams I SPENT SOME TIME IN AN OAK BARREL!!! like many inexpensive Chardonnays do, presumably to cover up for their shortcomings.

Father Poumade couldn't make it, but another priest came, whose name I won't mention because I didn't ask him. Our lovely and loquacious friend Cindy was also in attendance, which was good not only for her excellent company but because our kids love her to death.

One last thing I have to mention -- when I pulled the cork out of the wine, there was a quotation from the Angelic Doctor himself: "...for it is written, that wine makes glad the heart of man." Unlike the bogus quotation I found, this one is genuine. It's from an article entitled
"Whether wine of the grape is the proper matter of this sacrament?" Aquinas quotes Psalm 103, which would seem to answer the perverse fellows who think that what Bible calls "wine" is unfermented. Whose heart ever became glad from grape juice?

An 11-year-old girl gets sick of Nordstrom selling only clothes fit for prostitots. She writes a letter that finds it's way to the President's desk. He decides to begin carrying more conservative clothing for this age group; "that it's important to maintain a balance and selection." Gosh, I think it's important not to make 11-year-olds look like tramps!

The Therese movie is coming

An October 1 release date has been announced for Leonardo Defilippis' film about the life of St. Therese. Keep up with news about the picture at theresemovie.com.

John Donne (1572-1631), Anglican priest and poet.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christs Cross, And Adams tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and see both Adams met in me;
As the first Adams sweat surrounds my face;
May the last Adams blood my soul in embrace.

So, in his purple wrappd receive me, Lord,
By these thorns give me his other Crown;
And as to others soul I preachd they word.
Be this my Text, my Sermon to mine own,
Therefore that he may raise the Lord throws down.

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz


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