Saturday, January 11, 2003
This blog probably won't interest most of you. But I'm sitting here with my healing patella elevated and feeling self-indulgent. So this blog will be on a topic I have only mentioned peripherally before: toy soldiers.
I know. I know. You check in at Verus Ratio to get my take on the latest in the Scandal, or developments in the counter-reform movement in the Church, up-to-the-second commentary on political developments, or on the war, or the general decline of Western civilization, or traditional New England life, the hope and despair of a Boston Red Sox fan, the joys of good cigars, good whisky, good cooking, and J. Press clothing, or to read my historical vignettes, or my appreciations of literary figures.
Toy soldiers? Fitz, are you losing it? Are you sure you only dislocated your kneecap? When you landed, did you bang your head? Yes. No. Yes. No.
The fact is that I wanted to blog on this topic before Christmas, when it might have helped some folks with gift suggestions for husbands, sons, and nephews. But I was too busy agitating for regime change in the Archdiocese of Boston and discussing it after it happened to have time to develop this blog. Mrs. F. is running some errands this afternoon. I'm home with nothing to do, and the topic interests me. Experienced blog readers will know that the phrase "the topic interests me" is the last word on whether the topic will be discussed. Now? Why not? Think of it as early gift advice for next Christmas.
First of all, one must overcome the reflexive pacifist response: war toys are bad. So we should give our sons Barbies so they can grow up to be...? Actually, toy soldiers give structure to aggressive play natural in boys. They can be used to teach about history, and the realities of war. When I was a young fella, there was a magazine about the Second World War published in 96 weekly parts with historical commentary, maps, and photos. I had about 40 issues of it. One photo I remember rather well. It was captioned, "The Pity of War." After looking at it for a while, I figured out that it was a color photo of a German infantryman who had been run over by more than one tank, and fairly well flattened into the mud. Disgust. Horror. Pity. Sorrow. No glory there. But it happens in war.
War itself is an unpleasant reality. But it is a reality. It is a reality that will never disappear in our lifetime. There is, and will be, no shortage of vicious national and super-national dragons to slay so that free men can live in peace and prosperity. So developing an understanding of how war works is healthy. It is natural for boys. Much better that aggressive instincts be exercised in miniature battles with lead or plastic soldiers than in cruelty to small animals or getting into fights.
But I'm not really interested in the toy soldiers you can buy in any supermarket in a plastic bag. Those are mostly terrible. They don't portray soldiers accurately. The accessories that sometimes come with them are usually not to scale and pretty cheesy. They are cheap, so if that is all you can afford to give, don't be ashamed of it. But there are better things on the market for those who can afford it.
The military miniature (in both plastic and lead) has really taken off over the last 10 years. The range of figures available is extremely impressive. The quality of the depictions has become extremely good since the poor samples available in my childhood. The availablity of paints and painting guides to complete unfinished figures is also impressive. The number of printed guide books that tell you how to design a diorama, how to paint a figure, how to apply camouflage to a tank, how to build terrain and accessories has multiplied. And the internet has made it possible to find the very best and not be limited to the stock at your local hobby shop or toy store.
When I was a child in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Marx was the big name in toy soldiers. You could buy Marx playsets through the Sears catalog. They had World War II figures, American Revolution, American Civil War, and cowboys and Indians. The biggest range Marx had was in the World War II series, with two ranges of GIs (one oriented to the Pacific Theater, one for the European Theater) a set of Germans, a set of Japanese, a set of British 8th Army, a set of Free French. In the playsets there were tanks, whose scale never matched the soliders, jeeps (ditto) ruined buildings in plastic, plastic bunkers, plastic trees, plastic barbed wire, plastic stone walls, plastic cannons, and sometimes tin houses or forts. I remember that in the Fort Apache set, the Fort itself folded up into a tin briefcase that could hold the cavalry, cowboys, and Indians for storage.
The Marx figures were all 2 inches high (called 1/32nd scale or 54mm). As one got older, the toy soldiers could be supplemented by model kits, which would be more authentic looking. Monogram had a series of 1/32nd scale tanks based on the American Sherman chassis, and the German Panzer IV chassis.
But a funny thing happened to the toy soldier market when I was a kid. That thing was the backlash against the Vietnam War. The prestige of the US military declined because President Johnson wouldn't allow the military to win the war, but only to respond to North Vietnamese aggression. Protest at home fueled a pre-existing pacifist movement. Suddenly, toy soldiers were no longer popular. They disappeared from toy store shelves. Sears no longer carried Marx playsets. Hobby shops started to specialize in racing cars, and model railroads, so as not to offend leftists. When the Dungeons and Dragons craze hit in the early 1980s, hobby stores shifted gears again. Monogram folded up its tank model series. Marx practically went out of business. Airfix, which produced sets of smaller soldiers (HO scale or 1/72nd) also virtually folded. The military model market was for a long time dominated by MRC Tamiya, which produced models in the slightly smaller 1/35th scale.
If you wanted any type of quality in toy soldiers, Imrie-Risley, which flourished at the time of the Bicentennial as it specializes mostly in American Revolution figures, was one of the few outlets remaining. And Imrie-Risley produced (produces) figures in 1/32nd scale lead. At $10 per figure, unpainted (they were a little cheaper 15 years ago, but not much). And Imrie-Risley figures could only be found at hobby shops that specialized in military items, which in 1987, despite President Reagan, Grenada, and Libya, were few and far between.
The toys stores? Some low-quality toy soldiers returned to the toy store shelves then, but they really were not worth the money. This is the time when GI Joe, after a lengthy absence, resurfaced as a four-inch action figure devoted to fighting various super-villains.
But toy soldiers have a long history and were bound to make a come back eventually. They were buried with Chinese emperors in life-size terra cotta. British kids of the 19th century had their Britains. They first made their appearance in North America in the 1760s (remember the ones Mel Gibson melted into musket balls in The Patriot?). Tinker Toys were popular in the 1950s. Despite all the fury of war in Europe in the 20th century, toy soldiers there flourished. It was inevitable that they would re-infiltrate the American market. Starting a little over 10 years ago, they came back in a big way.
Hollywood, and the Persian Gulf War, as well as the 50th anniversary of World War II, all played a part in the resurgence. Movies like April Morning, Last of the Mohicans, The Patriot, The Crossing, Ken Burns' The Civil War, Gettysburg, and Saving Private Ryan stopped portraying the soldier as psychopath. Americans have been proud of how the US Armed Services have done their job since Desert Storm. We have also remembered the brave men who stormed ashore at Anzio, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, and Omaha and Utah Beaches, who stopped the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge, and ended Nazism and Japanese militarism. Fiftieth anniversaries have a way of bringing back to mind the necessity of feats of arms.
British companies producing figures under names like Call To Arms and Accurate began in 1/32nd scale with uncontroversial topics like the American Revolution, the English Civil War, and the American Civil War. Then, after the movie The Last of the Mohicans, an American company called Barzso started to produce excellent 1/32nd scale plastic French and Indian War figures. In England, Britains re-examined its concentration on glossy modern ceremonial poses, and produced American Civil War, American Revolution, and some World War II figures, of excellent quality and painted.
A European company called Hat has taken over the 1/72nd scale Napoleonic soldiers previously produced by Airfix, and has greatly expanded the range. For $7.00 you can buy a box of 50 Hat figures. And what a range! British light infantry, highlanders, Guards, 95th Rifles, line infantry, light dragoons, hussars, the KGL, Scots Greys, Life Guards, Horse Artillery, Royal Artillery are all available. And that is just the British Army: the French have an even greater variety. And armies like the Russians, Prussians, Austrians, and Bavarians are also available. Even the weak Dutch-Belgian army that fought under Wellington at Waterloo is well-represented.
Then a few years ago, more companies joined the market. Conte produces a range of 1/32nd scale figures in either hand-painted lead (for collectors) or plastic based on popular movies. The Longest Day is by far the most prolific series Conte has been working on. But Beau Geste, The War Lord, Zulu, The Vikings, and The Patriot are also represented in an ever-expanding series. And Conte does not just produce soldiers. They produce terrain and buildings to complement the figures. You can buy bridges, hedgerows, partially destroyed buildings, and other accessories. Conte has even brought back the playset with its Zulu and The Longest Day playsets that include figures and terrain accessories. Let me tell you, these accessories are a far cry from the cheesy stuff of the 1970s. No molded plastic kelly green trees. The figures are so well done that one is ashamed to bring out one's old Marx figures and put them beside the new Conte figures. The hand-painted lead versions are truly excellent.
But wait. The toy soldier market has yet more new riches to explore. 21st Century Toys has produced 1/32nd scale World War II tanks, vehicles, and figures that go perfectly with Conte's. The first items in the series were American infantry and German infantry, along with the American Stuart tank, and Hellcat tank destroyer, as well as the German Tiger I tank, German half-track, and German armoured recon car. Based on the success of there first items, a whole new series is coming to stores very soon (they were in my favorite hobby shop in Malden, Ma, the Hobby Bunker, about four days before Christmas; later than planned because of the West Coast dock strike; yes, they are made in China). New excellent and affordable 1/32nd scale completed models of the Sherman, and Chafee tanks, the White half-track, the Mustang fighter, and the German Panther and Mark III, as well as the STUG III Jagdpanzer and Me 109 will be at Toys R Us very soon. Fifteen dollars for a good finished 1/32nd scale model is an excellent price. They also produce a line of 12-inch action figures based on World War II, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and police and fire. To work with the 12-inch action figures, there are even a few tanks. I salivated over the Stuart M-5 in 1/9th scale, but sadly concluded that $130.00 was more than I wanted to spend for something I had no room to store (it takes an entire table top). And the company has just come out with a $100 playset of 1/32nd scale figues, buildings, terrain, and tanks.
Other new companies like King and Country produce excellent hand-painted lead figures in slightly bigger than 1/32nd scale (60mm). Imrie-Risley is still producing excellent lead American Revolution figures. Meanwhile tabletop wargamers favor 1/72nd scale lead figures, and even smaller. There is plenty to suit their needs.
When I shop at the Hobby Bunker, I don't see kids. Even though Toys R Us carries some of the 21st Century toys line, I'll bet you that the buyers there are not mostly kids. Some are being bought for kids. We bought our nephew a Hellcat for Christmas in 2001, and a Tiger last year. An extensive set of toy soldiers and accesories is just about the best gift a father can give a son on Christmas morning (it will keep both busy while Mom fixes dinner).
The people who are buying these items are guys 30 and older. Some are collectors like me. Some are just buying a bit of nostalgia (though the stuff on the market now is vastly superior to the toy soldiers and models on the market in the 1960s and 1970s). The deacon who runs the Archdiocese of Boston's cemetery system is a fifty-something who collects the old Marx sets. I know librarians, MBTA train operators, accountants, investment bankers, lawyers, and journalists who collect or wargame. Some of this is carry-over from re-enacting. Guys who in the fine weather don a uniform and shoulder a musket are disproportionately inclined to collect, paint, and game with military miniatures in the winter.
Which brings me to the catalyst for some of this explosion: the internet. What kind of blog essay would it be if I didn't provide links? Some of these companies sell only to retailers on line (21st Century) but others happily take orders and display their entire stock on the internet. In response, some hobby shops, like the Hobby Bunker and the Michigan Toy Soldier Company offer you one-stop internet shopping, in a bewildering variety of scales, time periods, materials, and suppliers.
The websites vary in quality. 21st Century Toys seems to not have someone on the payroll to keep the website updated. Conte's site also sometimes is behind the product, but has recently improved. Barzso has a good site. Imrie-Risley has a very useful site, though they could stand to update their line a bit, (and some of their molds seem to be deteriorating with age). Hat's is very good, and even has links to hundreds of photos of painted figures they (and other companies) produced. Michigan Toy Soldier Company is truly excellent. You can find out what Conte and 21st Century are coming out with by regularly checking this site. The Hobby Bunker has an extensive site that should be updated more often (but since their brick and mortar facility is nearby, I stop in every few weeks) Trees and othe accessories can be bought through Doll Houses, Trains, and More, which carries Lemax trees originally designed for Christmas villages, but also perfect for model railroads and military dioramas (last year I built a walled 18th century apple orchard with their trees, plywood, landscaping stones, super glue, and the shredded colored foam used by model railroaders, blended for the right color for grass in Eastern Massachusetts in April).
What do I collect? American Revolution 1/32nd scale, Napoleonic 1/72nd scale (though I don't have the skill to paint figures that small), and 1/32nd scale ETO WWII. Current project: a massive diorama of the British return from Concord with a farm house, well, roadway, barn, orchard, plowed fields, garden, woods, and about 400 figures (all painted by me, and some converted as well) in 1/32nd scale. Current passion: ETO, 1944-1945.
Domenico Bettinelli has a good take on the absurdity coming out of the mouth of the former Attorney General.
Frankly, I thought Ramsey Clark died a few years ago. I guess it was only "brain death." The mouth and the body continue merrily and insanely on down the path of left-wing lunacy.
Friday, January 10, 2003
I was sorry to see this morning that Will McDonough, long-time sports columnist for the Boston Globe, died last night at his home at the age of 67. He is the father of Boston Red Sox broadcaster Sean McDonough. He wrote for the Globe for 40 years, and was the only Globe sports columnist who has been nominated for a Pulitzer. He covered every one of the Super Bowls, and though officially retired, had just broken the story about Bill Parcells being named head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Requiescat in pace.
Thanks to Matt Drudge for the link.
The plaintiffs' attorneys have released Cardinal Law's appointment calendar, which shows that the Cardinal assigned John Geoghan to parish work within a few weeks of having lunch with Monsignor Mark Keohane, who also happened to be Geoghan's uncle. Geoghan at that time, had just left two consecutive parishes because of molesting boys. Keohane, who died 5 years ago, ran interference for Geoghan on more than one occasion, including at seminary in 1955. That was the most significant smoking gun in the Cardinal's appointments, though he met with other accused abusers on numerous occasions. But that is hardly surprising.
VOTF claims that Bishop Lennon is not genuinely interested in dialogue with the faithful, since he has failed to meet with them. Again, they make the mistake of associating their own membership with "the laity." In fact, the Archdiocese has a plan for dialogue with the laity. Bishop Lennon plans to work closely with lay members of diocese and parish-level boards designed to prevent sex abuse. Lennon plans to be much more active than Cardinal Law (certainly in the last year) was in meeting with parish groups. And VOTF may be met with, in the context of other meetings with laity.
Ahh, but just considering the little left-wing Napoleons at VOTF as part of the laity is not good enough for them. VOTF wants to be recognized as THE representative of Catholic laity. Well, they don't represent me. The Archdiocese is correct in putting VOTF in its place. It is "a" lay group, not "the" lay group. Its membership is well to the left of the average Catholic. Its association with those holding heretical beliefs, its left-wing Democrat leadership, and its amorphous goal of "structual change" in the Church make it a very dangerous organization. The fact that it is well-financed and well-organized and has many large contributors in its membership makes it even more dangerous. They should be met with, as Bishop Lennon plans, but preached to in these meetings, not nodded at and mollified. They should not be allowed to usurp the mantle of spokesman for all Catholic laity. That would be an imposture utterly unreconcilable with the future health and orthodoxy of the Church.
Twelve hours after my post on removing snow and ice, I was walking down to the train station to meet Mrs. Fitzpatrick. I had reached the corner of Washington & Lynde (pronounced "Lined", not "Lind," I am told by life-long Salemites) when I started down one of those places where the sidewalk slopes down to the croswalk for wheelchair access when my feet went out from under me. The snow and ice was removed all right, but the melting we had during the day yesterday had frozen causing black ice: dislocated left kneecap (4th time for that knee, the other one has been out of place three times). Fortunately, I am almost as skillful at pushing it back in as the Mel Gibson character in Lethal Weapon is with his shoulder. While I was standing nearby waiting for Mrs. F., one other guy took a header there. At least 4 other guys slipped but did not fall. So, I'm propped up in front of the computer this morning with my leg elevated and ice on the very considerable bump and bruise, pretty much not able to walk.
Thankfully it doesn't hurt much. My guardian angel was also on guard at the time, as I ended up on my butt on the curb, with only my feet sticking out into the crosswalk (and those sheltered from cars by the lea of a snowbank) despite the fact that I distinctly felt myself falling forward and didn't have time to do anything to control the fall. Within seconds of my landing, a car came roaring off Washington onto Lynde. If I had fallen a few feet into the crosswalk, I might not be around to write this today.
Because the property owner had cleared the ice and snow, and I was a victim of sudden re-freezing, negligence would be very difficult to prove. Ironic, ain't it?
Thursday, January 09, 2003
Good luck Governor Benson. It won't be easy to keep that pledge to not create a sales tax or an income tax and to keep existing taxes as they are. But it will be political suicide for you and the party not to.
Listen to what Michael Ledeen has to say about the war on Islamo-fascist terror today at National Review On Line.
A good question for those ticked off by the way the Church has, over the last 50 years, handled pervert priests is how many heads do we want to roll. The Dallas Morning News reported last June that 2/3 of the current US bishops have participated in the seemingly universal policy of playing musical chairs with perverts. Should they all be made to walk the plank?
I think, for prudential reasons, we don't need to go that far. Any bishop who actually abused any minor himself should, of course, go. Cardinal Law, who oversaw the worst of the cover-ups, is gone. Bishop McCormack, who has done the same thing in New Hampshire, and, as the man who knew all the secrets in the Archdiocese of Boston for a decade was primarily responsible for all the cover-ups attributed to Law, should also go. Bishop Daily in Brooklyn, who as a Boston administrator was also deeply implicated in the Boston cover-ups, has turned 75 and handed in his resignation as required by canon law. So dealing with him is easy. Among other Boston alumni, Bishop Banks seems to have been less culpable here. Bishop D'Arcy comes across in some documents as on the right side, if not a profile in courage.
Weakland being out is a very good thing for conservative Catholics in general. The fact that he was a pervert himself was just icing on the cake. Likewise, on general principles, I would like to see Cardinal Mahony gone. The fact that he is a colossal hypocrite, who was going to try to force Law out of office, when he had done the same things, including sheltering a pervert in his own rectory, is a convenient reason for forcing him out. But the real reason he should go is that his influence on West Coast Catholicism is terrible. I think of him as the Shelby Spong of American Cardinals. Any reason to rid the American Church of this turbulent liberal is good enough. I still wonder if he was the Cardinal the New York Times staff was ready to out last year, before their editors spiked the story.
But after that? I must admit that my own bloodthirstiness drops off after Law, McCormack, Daily, Weakland, and Mahony are put out of our misery. Two-fifths of that job is done. One more (Daily) is pending. The pressure on McCormack is growing, and he probably will be gone before the end of this year. Let us hope that events on the West Coast develop to push Mahony out as well (after all, if the "most conservative of the American Cardinals" has stepped down, wouldn't it be just to see the most liberal also walk the plank for pulling the same crap?).
Should the rest of the bishops get a free pass? No. They need to hear from the fatihful how despicable these acts were. But I also don't think they need to be forced from office over this. After all, this is not unremitting war on the structure of the Church, but limited war on various individuals within the hierarchy. Many of these other bishops have moved a pervert or two, nothing like the massive scale on which this was done in Boston. They need some public criticism, and they need to offer individual public apologies. Most of that has been done. With new policies in place, they just need to make sure that they are, in all cases, followed. Most of these bishops are company men, who will do as they are told, or at least go through the motions. While that is hardly the same as having a couple of hundred Vianneys, Bonifaces, and Bellarmines at the head of the Church, it is better than nothing. Duly chastened, it will be possible for them to get back to business, hopefully not as usual, but with a renewed sense of evangelical mission and orthdoxy. The hoped-for fall of Mahony will help that.
It is time to start looking past the perverts and their aiders and abetters in the hierarchy. We have a Church to preserve. Once we are rid of all of the five worst, it will be a Church worth defending once again. The structure of traditional belief and devotion must be preserved. There are plenty of little battles to fight against reforming liturgists, wreckovators, liturgical music people whose last names begin with "H", VOTF types, CFFC creeps, Father FiddlewiththeMass, Sister Womyn Libber, and Professor MightaswellbeaUnitarian. The good news is that, as of now, the Vatican is a mighty ally in most of these battles.
The tools of counter-reform are beginning to be seen for what they can do.
*The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, reconciling the Latin Mass with the modern Church, is part of it. Hopefully, it will undercut the schismatic Pius X Society, and bring us new allies on the right, ready to roll up their sleeves and fight it out at the parish council level.
*Traditional hymnals like Saint Michael's and the Adoremus Hymnal are available to restore Catholic sacred music.
*Michael Rose has alerted us to the problems that faced the seminaries, and has given us a good primer on how to re-redesign our churches.
*Under Vatican orders, the Novus Ordo is being revised to make it more faithful to the Latin.
*The Vatican is poised to issue new orders proscribing the ordination of homosexuals to the priesthood. If it continues after that, it will be illicit, and we can blow whistles big time when we see it happening, as Roman Catholic Faithful is doing now.
*Ex Corde Ecclesiae is a tool for bringing the erring Catholic theologians to heel, or to be rid of them.
*The Vatican has just issued orders that parish priests are not to fiddle with the rubrics of the Mass.
*The Vatican has recently ruled that those who wish to kneel to receive the Sacrament cannot be denied it.
*The Vatican has recently ruled that The Agnus Dei is to be performed at Mass as authorized and in no other way.
*There are a fair number of more conservative younger priests and seminarians who know that the centrality of the Eucharist is key to vital Catholicism, coming along to help.
*Cardinal Ratzinger has given us some guidance on what an authentic Catholic liturgy must have.
*To keep the hierarchy on message, there is, "in the spirit of Vatican II" regarding lay participation and input, the new input from conservative laity, a great deal of it right here at Saint Blog's.
*The Holy Father himself is responsible for giving us a revised cult of the saints, with many moderns to look up to, a revitalized and more Christ-centered Rosary, and a Catechism that defines Catholic belief in a fairly comprehensive manner.
One area that still is lacking a comprehensive solution is the religious instruction of the young and the reform of Catholic schools in general. Homeschooling is a solution, but as much as I like it, it abandons the parochial schools to the liberal educationoids, and does nothing to reform them..
Another lacuna is the absence of an overarching national group of conservative/orthodox/traditionalist Catholics united to help each other bring this agenda to fruition at the parish level. Unity is lacking. In fact, I've never seen such petty backbiting in my whole life as that between natural allies on the Catholic right. We need to learn to overlook the faults of each other, and train our guns on the enemies listed above.
Now we need bishops and pastors skilled at utilizing all these tools to restore traditional Catholic worship in the context of the early 21st century; men who are not afraid of the ridicule of the worldly as they call the faithful back to Christ. It won't be easy, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, it will come.
Deus Io Volt!
Deposition testimony of Bishop John McCormack in the Paul Shanley civil case has been made public. The following exchange is worth noting:
MacLeish: You would agree with me that one of the reasons it would be important to let the parishioners know was because they might be able to get help for their children, is that correct?
MacLeish: That's what Sister Catherine [Mulkerrin] told you, is that not correct?
McCormack: Right, correct.
MacLeish: And you decided that that was not an appropriate policy, is that correct?
McCormack: Not myself; it was a matter of discussion among some of us.''
McCormack said that discussion was held by a group that met weekly and included Wilson D. Rogers Jr., chief legal counsel for the archdiocese, the Rev. Kevin J. Deeley, the Rev. Edward M. O'Flaherty, and Mulkerrin.
Asked if he had ever discussed with Law the decision to keep the identities of accused priests secret, McCormack said, ''Not that I recall; I don't think so.'' McCormack also said that in the years he served as Law's secretary for ministerial personnel, from 1984 to 1994, the protection of children was never defined as a ''first priority'' but was ''a matter of concern.'
Also worth noting is this characterization of the yet-to-be-released deposition testimony of Sister Catherine Mulkerrin, McCormack's top aide from 1992-1994 (when the Archdiocese was starting to clean up its act on some abusers):
Mulkerrin's pretrial testimony, given last month, will not be released until later this year. But Rodney P. Ford, the parent of an alleged Shanley victim, attended her deposition, and described it in a telephone interview from his home yesterday. He said Mulkerrin testified that in two years as McCormack's top aide, from 1992 to 1994, she heard sexual abuse complaints against more than 100 priests - most of whom were living at the time.
Mulkerrin also said she heard complaints from hundreds of victims and came to believe that almost all of them were credible, according to Ford. Mulkerrin's repeated - and unsuccessful - attempts to persuade McCormack to inform parishioners about accused clergymen are also reflected in McCormack's deposition.
And the questions to McCormack also centered around McCormack's protection of St. John's Seminary classmates, including the notorious Father Joseph Birmingham, who appears to have molested some 50 boys all over the Archdiocese, including in my current parish of Saint James.
McCormack also faced questions about favorable treatment he granted to several other priests accused of molesting minors, including four who were classmates at St. John Seminary in the class of 1960: the Revs. Shanley, Joseph E. Birmingham, Bernard J. Lane, and Eugene M. O'Sullivan.
McCormack offered a new explanation for his response to a 1985 letter from a Rochester, N.Y., woman complaining that Shanley had given a speech on sexual relationships between adults and children, contending that children are generally the seducers.
In his May 2 statement of apology, McCormack said he ''did not focus'' on the reference to sex between adults and minors in 1985. But in his June 3 deposition, McCormack said he had discussed the letter with Shanley and that Shanley said he was referring in his speech to child prostitutes.
When questioned about Birmingham, McCormack was asked about his assertion, also in his May apology, that he never intended that ''a priest be placed in an assignment where he could be in contact with children if he had an allegation of sexual abuse.''
McCormack acknowledged that in 1987, when the father of a 13-year-old altar boy serving with Birmingham wrote a letter asking whether Birmingham was the same priest who had previously been removed from another parish because of a sexal abuse allegation, McCormack replied, ''There is absolutely no factual basis to your concern.''
Asked why he did not tell the concerned father that his son was indeed serving with the same Father Birmingham, McCormack said, ''I can't explain that.''
Can't or won't?
Something worth noting that just occurred to me is that Bishop John B. McCormack is named for the former US House of Representatives Speaker (and Massachusetts congressman) John B. McCormack, a Democrat icon to Irish Democrats of Massachusetts. If his last name had been Kennedy, he might well have been named "John Fitzgerald." It is just another piece of anecdotal evidence about how much the Archdiocese of Boston has been in bed with the Massachusetts Democrat Party for the last 60 years or more. Cardinal Cushing accelerated and cemented the close relationship between the Massachusetts Democrat Party and the Archdiocese of Boston. With such a long history of working hand-in-glove with the most liberal elements in the country, is there any surprise that the Archdiocese was taking a live-and let-live attitude towards perverts in the seminary even a decade and more before Vatican II?
Boston has had a bout of Buffalo weather since the New Year. It has been cold, probably not above 35 degrees, with a little light snow just about every day. The snow hasn't amounted to much here on the coast. There are probably not more than 6 inches at its deepest, and that includes the results of the storm that dumped a foot 50 miles inland. But the continuous snow and sleet has resulted in very dangerous sidewalks.
I have noticed this winter that the application of salt to roads and sidewalks has not been as liberal as it has been in past years. Salt, or melting crystals are a uniquely useful and effective means of geting rid of ice on sidewalks. It is not particularly expensive, especially if you look for a sale at Walmart or Target, or a warehouse store. I know envvironmental bed-wetters fret over the use of salt. But they also fret over the flush toilet and the internal combustion engine. If we are going to start ordering civilized life around the fears of our most timorous, we might as well just turn the clock back to 1350 AD. Failure to use such a readily available resource as road salt is probably de facto negligence.
Owners of commerical and residential property are required by city ordinance in most municipalities to remove snow and ice from the sidewalks in front (and on the sides of, if applicable) of their buildings. Common law imposes liability on property owners if they fail to remove snow and ice and someone falls and is injured on the sidewalks around their property.
Early in my legal career, before I gave it up as a bad job, I represented a 4 months-pregnant lady who, while walking home from work one evening, fell on ice on Beacon Hill and ended up with a compound ankle fracture. Because of her pregnancy, she could not have pain meds. She was a long time healing. The snow had fallen more than 24 hours before, and we produced evidence that the ice had congealed that morning. The property owner, a local college in this case, decided to settle for a mid-level five figure sum.
As someone who has dislocated both knee caps more than once falling on ice (unfortunately while clearing my own driveway) I would not hesitate to sue someone who failed to remove ice and snow from their sidewalk if I were to be injured again by their negligence. And, despite my professional training, I am not a particularly litigious fellow. There are plenty of people out there who would leap at the opportunity to cash in on your negligence.
So, property owners, pony up a few hundred dollars for an adequate supply of melting crystals for each property every winter. When it snows, sleets, or there is freezing rain, make sure someone gets right out there and shovels, and then liberally applies the melting crystals to your whole sidewalk. A few hundred dollars for a supply of salt, or tens of thousands potentially to pay those injured by your negligence. Despite insurance, it is an easy choice. Think of it as part of the cost of property ownership. It is also the right thing to do. If you can spare your neighbors hard walking and potential injury, it is your duty to do so. If you don't, someone will be suing you.
The man who, by his personal popularity and more-conservative-than-the-party positions, artificially elevated the fortunes of the Democrat Party in Georgia, Senator Zell Miller, will not seek re-election to the seat he was appointed to on the death of Republican Paul Coverdell. The retirement of Miller, a popular former governor and lieutenant governor, offers the Georgia GOP a fantastic opportunity to pick up another US Senate seat. Hopefully President Bush will be coasting to re-election, and recent electoral trends in Georgia have favored Republicans very heavily. This, plus the retirement of Frtiz Hollings, is a very hopeful sign for long-term Republican prospects in the Senate.
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Susan Benofy, writing in the latest Adoremus, has an in-depth discussion of unauthorized variation of the Agnus Dei. The practice of varying the Agnus Dei, substituting extra or alternative texts, or varying it in any way is specifically banned by the Vatican. Yet it remains a problem, because liturgists like to play with it in order to down-grade the importance of the Eucharistic Rite.
This is not a problem in my parish, where my only objection is the use (every blessed week) of David Haas' uninspiring music for the Agnus Dei (and everything else; it all sounds alike). But it is a major problem at the Polish church, Saint John the Baptist, around the corner from us (where we go once in a while because it is air conditioned; I know, but Mrs. F. was brought up in Alaska and has a lot of trouble with our hot Yankee summers). There, the organist substitutes something that includes the words, "Jesus, Jesus, He is the Lamb of God," but does not either invoke His mercy, or ask for His peace. He does something similar with the Sanctus, as well.
Adoremus publishes a letter of instruction from the Vatican informing parish priests that they are NOT to make unauthorized changes in the liturgy.
If instructions like this didn't routinely end up in the circular files of many rectories, it would be a real victory.
The New Oxford Review now has my June 2002 article on the Scandal available on line. It is a little dated now. In fact, it was a little dated when it was published. It was written last February, revised and sent in in March, and published in June. I have no idea why it took so long to get it on-line. But there it is. Enjoy!
This morning our attention was drawn to the crash of the commuter plane in North Carolina, which killed 19 passengers and 2 crew. One of the dead worked for the Cambridge office of W.R. Grace. Then this afternoon, in Turkey a civilian plane that had departed Istanbul crashed killing 72 people. Five people survived that crash, without life-threatening injuries. Our prayers for all the dead, and for their families.
Living at the expence of the British taxpayer, of course. Oh no, immigration policies in the US, UK, Canada, and Europe are not a threat to national security. Perish the thought!
The RAF is sending 14 fighters to Jordan to exercise against Jordanian pilots flying Mirage fighters, similar to what Iraq flies.
I know, you people are saying, "What do you expect in the Pay State?" But there are liberals, and then there are uberliberals. The new Senate President Robert Traviglini has appointed a host of very, very liberal senators to leadership positions. This is sure to create conflict with the somewhat more conservative House leadership, and with Republican Governor Mitt Romney. This crowd of new Senate leaders is of the Sandinista-hugging, Nuclear Freeze Now, never-saw-an-abortion-they didn't-like, let's make the minimum wage $25.00 per hour, and the state income tax 20%, gay-marriage advocating variety that would be equally at home in Berzerkley (and just about no place else on this earth, except Havana and Pyonyang).
The Globe has some details here. My own state senator Fred Berry is now the Majority Leader. Therese Murray, whose political views are indistinguishable from those of US Senator Patty Murray, will be the new Ways and Means Chairwoman. Foirmer state Democrat Chairwoman Joan Menard is now to be Majority Whip. Marc Pacheco is to be Chairman of Post Audit and Oversight.
God help the Commonwealth of Massachusetts!
BBspot is having us on over the alleged addition of Jar-Jar Binks to the Return of the King. It is a nice parody (I hope). Just for the record, I really hated that character in the Phantom Menace. Attack of the Clones was much better for his substantially reduced role. It could only have been improved if Jar-Jar ended up on the wrong end of a light saber.
President Bush has renominated Justice Priscilla Owens of the Texas Supreme Court, and Judge Charles Pickering for posts on the Fifth US Circuit. The rejection of these highly qualified nominations was a disgrace perpetrated by the Senate Democrats, equal in folly to rejecting the nomination of the best-qualified Supreme Court nomination of the last 30 years, Robert Bork.
Ronald Piana, writing for FrontPage Magazine, tells us that unchecked immigration is transforming small town America for the negative.
General Richard Hawley, who I take it is a former commander of military chaplains, has an excellent discussion of the war, originally from Pastornet.net, but republished at FrontPage Magazine today.
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Good luck Governor Carcieri!
The Democrats are having trouble finding someone to take Rush on as a liberal rival radio talk show host. To help them out, Rush has been holding auditions this afternoon. There have been some really weird cranks spouting ridiculous theories on the air today. They sound about right for the left-wing audience. Did you know that American democracy ended in 1944 at the Democrat convention that refused to annoint left-wing icon Henry Wallace as Vice President? Rush just auditioned someone who thinks that. Left-wing positions are so fraught with outmoded views (I sometimes think they really see businessmen as the little guy in the top hat from Monopoly) and cranky conspiracy fantasies (Farrakhan and his "Mother Ship", the Raelians and the UFO cult, Al Sharpton and just about anything that comes out of his mouth) that the folks Rush had on would really light up the boards as national liberal talk show hosts. All the left has to do is buy the radio stations to carry the show, and the audience.
But Red Sox slugger Jim Rice is not.
More Massachusetts National Guardsmen are currently on active duty than at any time since World War II. But that is only because our active duty forces have been stretched so thin by budget cuts.
British anti-terror police have arrested 6 men of Northern African extraction after residue of ricin, a poison twice as deadly as cobra venom and with no known antidote was found in London. Ricin on the point of an umbrella was used by the KGB to assasinate a Bulgarian defector on the streets of London in the 1970s. Last year, British anti-terror police believe they disrupted through arrest an al Qaeda cell planning to poison commuters on the London subway.
Verus Ratio had it on Saturday.
Extend unemployment benefits. Human nature dictates that people will tend to only do what they absolutely have to. If more unemployment benefits are available, many will stay out of work, hoping for the perfect position to open up. If the unemployment benefits run out, they will settle for something else, and get back to work. Economists noted that unemployment rose after the last extension of jobless benefits. It is time to stop extending the benefits, and start cutting taxes instead.
If we really want to help the unemployed, we should make unemployment benefits, which are only a percentage of salary, tax-free, or taxed at a substantially reduced rate.
Ralph McInerny, in the latest issue of Crisis, reports that there is substantial progress in bringing Ex Corde Ecclesiae to fruition.
Courtesy of Zenit:
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Today, solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Infant born at night in Bethlehem manifests himself to the world as light of salvation for all peoples. The Gospel of St. Matthew narrates that several Magi came from the East, adored the Child and offered him symbolic gifts: gold to the King, incense to God, and myrrh to the Man who will be buried.
To this episode, the Church Fathers soon associated two others, in which Jesus manifested his glory: the baptism in the River Jordan and the wedding of Cana.
These two events of the life of Christ are part of the new cycle of mysteries of the rosary -- the mysteries of light -- proposed recently for the meditation of all the faithful. Therefore, we contemplate with Mary's eyes these mysteries of the Epiphany of the Lord, light and salvation of the world.
2. In today's solemnity emerges the universal and missionary vocation of the Church. The latter is called to spread in the world the light of the Good News, source of life and renewal for every person and for humanity. This is, in particular, the task of the apostles and of their successors, the bishops: because of this, this morning, as in the past, I wished to ordain several new bishops. I renew my cordial greetings to the latter, as well as to their relatives and all those who accompany them. I invite everyone to pray for them, so that they will always be an "epiphany" of Christ, Way, Truth and Life.
3. The Gospel narrates that a star guided the Magi to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem. The ancient prophecies compared the future Messiah to a heavenly star. This emblem was also attributed to Mary: If Christ is the star that leads to God, Mary is the star that leads to Jesus.
Today we entrust to her maternal protection the new bishops and the whole Christian people. In a special way, I invite you to pray for the beloved brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches who, following the Julian calendar, celebrate Christmas in these days. May the Lord, born for us from the Virgin Mother, bring serenity and peace to all these ecclesial communities.
[Translation by ZENIT]
Stephen Hand's Traditional Catholic Reports ceased publishing on December 17. It was a useful source of information, and will be missed.
As the Church of England unravels more and more, expect more of this. By the way, the latest New Oxford Review is dominated by two articles on Anglican issues, by David Mills and William J. Tighe. Maybe the articles will be on line in 6 months. Maybe not.
It doesn't look as if any are to serve as ordinaries in the US. The one American on the list works in the Vatican. The Holy Father has consecrated 321 bishops to date.
It remains to be seen on which side the French will fight.
Things have become mighty quiet on the Scandal front. There have been no more new revelations in the Boston papers since before Christmas. The good news is that Bishop Lennon is quietly getting on with his job of settling the litigation and keeping things going while the Vatican ponders a new archbishop. He isn't making headlines, which in the current context, is probably a good thing.
Dennis Prager, whose column is carried today at Townhall.com discusses the bizarre liberal cry from the heart that they do not dominate talk radio, when the dominate everything else that forms public opinion.
But is old, old, good old Christmas gone? Nothing but the hair of his good, gray, old head and beard left? Well, I will have that, seeing that I cannot have more of him.
Quoted in Washington Irving's essay, Christmas.
The Old Farmer's Almanac says it is Saint Distaff's Day, the day for returning to a normal mode of life after the celebration of Christmas. But I think they are wrong, as Saint Distaff's is supposed to be the day after Plough Monday, which, since Epiphany fell on a Monday, is next Monday. That would make a week from today Saint Distaff's.
But no matter how you calculate it, the decorations can come down now. On our walk to the train station this morning, we saw two Christmas trees by the curb. The sight does not distress or anger me now, as it does on December 26th. In fact, I enjoyed the smell of cut balsam. Our own decorations will probably come down this weekend, leaving a rather bleak interior. We have had seasonal decorations up since September, first silk garlands of fall leaves, then silk Christmas holly and ivy as well as balsam. The bleak prospect helps one understand why some prefer to leave their Christmas greens up until Candlemas. After all, there is little enough green at this time of year.
As for lights, Mrs. Fitzpatrick's hometown of Anchorage has an annual program of the city keeping its (white) Christmas lights up and on throughout the winter. The city also encourages homeowners to do the same thing. Given that, in late December, the sun rises in Anchorage at about 10:00 am, and sets shortly after 3:00pm (it is compensated for by long, long summer sun in June and July) Anchorage's City of Lights program is a reasonable effort to counteract the lack of sunlight.
Surprisingly, the City of Salem still has its lights up and on. In past years, they have not been turned on after New Year's Day. Maybe Salem and other New England towns can learn something from Anchorage (Anchorage also decorates the downtown lavishly with flowers raised in municipal nurseries each summer, something else we can imitate to make our living environment more pleasant). With the short daylight of winter, Chirstmas lights brighten our lives, just as Christmas evergreens give us a promise of nature's continued life under the snow. I don't fault anyone who wants to leave these things up until Candlemas.
We all know that the UK has tougher gun laws than the US. What most people don't know is that the murder rates of our two countries are converging. Britain's is going up, while ours is declining. In fact, since US statistics do include manslaughter, to which murder charges are sometimes plea-bargained, while the British statistics don't, the rates are prabably very close as a percentage. Chelsea (UK) has a higher murder rate than Harlem. Mark Steyn, writing on this topic originally for the Telegraph, is carried today by FrontPage Magazine. Very interesting indeed is the fact that, if American blacks are factored out of the crime percentages, the American murder rate is about the same as Canada's.
Monday, January 06, 2003
A new collaborative blog, called Caritas Unitas et Veritas has been started by Dave Pawlak, Peter Vere, Jeff Culbreath, and Michelle. Keep in mind, the real enemy is on the left. Good luck.
Thanks to Mark Shea for the link.
Not much in the news really caught my attention today. Besides, after working, I had to run a couple of errands and am working on 3 interrupted hours of sleep. The first day back from vacation is always difficult. It is even worse for Mrs. F., who managed about an hour and a half of sleep.
I was going to provide the text of T.S. Eliot's Journey of the Magi, but the copyright holder apparently objects very strongly to the text being provided on line, even with attribution. So go out and buy a copy of Journey of the Magi.
Sunday, January 05, 2003
or King and Queen
Now, now the mirth comes
With the cake full of plums,
Where Bean’s the King of the sport here;
Beside we must know
The Pea also
Must revel, as Queen, in the Court here.
Begin then to choose,
(This night as ye use)
Who shall for the present delight here.
Be a King by the lot
And who shall not
Be Twelfth-day Queen for the night here.
Which known, let us make
Joy-sops with the cake;
And let not a man then be seen here,
Who unurg’d will not drink
To the base from the brink
A health to the King and the Queen here.
Next crown the bowl full
With gentle lambs-wool;
Add sugar, nutmeg and ginger,
With store of ale too;
And thus ye must do
To make the wassail a swinger.
Give then to the King
And Queen wassailing;
And though with ale ye be wet here;
Yet part ye from hence,
As free from offence
As when ye innocent met here.
I noticed in a quick glance through the latest New Oxford Review (my mailman, who I suspect reads my copy before passing it on to me, was on vacation last week, so I actually got my January issue at the end of December) that Thomas Stork has an interesting article called The Shrinking of Sacred Time, in which he laments the American Church's relentless retreat from bolding proclaiming the importance of its feast days.
The Church has a claim on our time, sufficient to justify requiring attendence at Mass on feast days that fall during the work week. But few go. The Church has responded by transfering feasts to the nearest Sunday. It has happened universally with Epiphany, and is happening in Storck's diocese regarding Ascension Thursday. Better that the Church becomes a little more assertive and demanding of our attention than that it continuously retreats and implicitly says its feasts are not all that important. Are we going to have Ash Sunday soon?
Storck takes a few shots at protestants and working mothers that are not wholly justified. The problem is the decline of pious practise among the laity, and the linguini-spined bishops who can't bring themselves to demand more. But on the whole, the article does call to mind the fact that Catholics owe the Church more of their time, which they now seem to be spending earning the vacation at Rube Valhalla (Disneyland), or the SUV, or the football season tickets, or the second home. Calling Catholics between 20 and 55 back to their duty is a worthwhile enterprise, much too important to be left to the bishops.
We have almost reached the end of Christmas. Tonight is Twelfth Night, and tomorrow, Epiphany (though the Church celebrates Epiphany on Sunday, today, for convenience). Festivities had slacked off a bit at the tail end of last week. The ferial days between New Years and Twelfth Night are difficult to celebrate. After New Year's, the whole world that we live in goes back to work. The saints remembered on those days, while inspiring, are not of the first magnitude.
Maybe Saint Joseph's Day should be moved to January 2nd or 3rd. After all, we have no idea when he actually died, and the closest associations with him involve the Christmas cycle, not the Lenten cycle in March. The Italians, then, won't have their national feast overshadowed (in the US) by Saint Patrick's Week (though in Boston it feels more like Saint Patrick's Fortnight, or even Saint Patrick's Month). Also, a celebration of responsible fatherhood during the twelve days of Christmas would be a big social and theological plus. Maybe the Feast of the Holy Name should be upgraded and universalized on the 4th. These two changes would give us secondary but important feasts through which to continue the celebration of Christmas. We have Saint Stephen's Day, Saint John the Evangelist, and the Holy Innocents to celebrate immediately after Christmas. Why not have theologically and socially important feasts all the way to Epiphany?
But today is a time for enjoyment. The celebration of Christ's Incarnation itself is coming to a close, though the celebration of the revelation of the Messiah to us Gentiles is at hand. Lent is still a decent way off (this year, Ash Wednesday is two months away). So we should not feel inhibited. Simeon called Jesus, "A Light of Revelation to the Gentiles." Rejoice at the Light of the World, the gift of God's love. At this darkest time of the year, keep the candles burning one night longer. Keep the family together one more day. Let the games, diversions, and good cheer last another day. Thankfulness for a Saviour should last a lifetime, so celebrate it at least one more day, before returning to ordinary modes of living.
Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas!