Saturday, June 14, 2003

Irish Music Festival
Stonehill College on the South Shore annually hosts a terrific festival of Irish music and culture, with fairly big names performing round the clock, poetry, pipes, tin whistles, shopping, and lots of fair food. It is today and tomorrow.

Mrs. F. isn't up to a day like that this year. So I'm listening to WROL broadcasting from the festival. But we have attended a few times and had a great time. We highly recommend it for those with the time and a love for things Irish.

This year, the performers include:

Gaelic Storm, The Prodigals; tenor Anthony Kearns, Derek Warfield of the Wolfe Tones; Seamus Connolly; Barra McNeills; Bedlam; the McTaggarts; The Brian Boru Pipes and Drums; Celtic Spring; Ceol Tradsiunta na hEireann, Sgt. Dan Clark, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann; Andy Cooney Band; Joe Derrane; Danny Doyle; Cahal Dunne; Erin's Melody; Frank Ryan & Celtic Clan; Christina Harrison; Andy Healy Band; Noel Henry Irish Show Band; Highland Rover; ICC Seisun Group; The Irish Beat; Liz McNicholl; Robert Mouland; David O'Docherty; Aideen O'Donnell, Harpist; Norman Payne; Teada

Well worth the price of admission (only $12 per adult per day).

The Boston Herald is reporting that the extraordinary meeting of priests in Boston on Tuesday may be to discuss Archdiocesan finances.

The Archdiocese is likely, the Herald says, to put the arm on financially healthy parishes to pay what they owe the Archdiocese.

Saint Basil
And today is also the traditional feast of Saint Basil. Under the reformed calendar, he is remembered on January 2nd.

The calendar has not been this full of noteworthy things on a single day in a long time.

G.K. Chesterton
On this date in 1936, G.K. Chesterton died.

The American Chesterton Society website is worth surfing through.

Its magazine Gilbert! is worth a read, too.

Birthday of the US Army
And today is a day of double patriotic significance. On this date in 1775, the Continental Congress adopted as the Continental Army the New England troops beseiging Boston since the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19th, and appointed Geroge Washington Commander-in-Chief. The Batle of Breed's Hill would be fought before news of Washington's appointment, let alone Washington himself, reached Cambridge.

Though the Army went through many changes, especially after the war (and was for a time called not the US Army, but the Legion of the United States in the 1780s) it has always dated its inception from June 14th, 1775.

Flag Day
Read the history of this day honoring Old Glory.

And here is a primer on flag etiquette. This is something people (sadly not my audience, who are getting the lecture anyway), but people in general really need to work on. There was a small parade through downtown Salem on April 19th for a re-dedication of Armory Park, the site of the old National Guard Armory and former headquarters of the Second Corps of Cadets. Several units went by with the flag. Sadly, I was the only civilian within my view who came to attention as the flag went by. And that less than a week after Baghdad fell.

The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They are:

The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard
The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.

The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.

When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.

Note: Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, June 14th. Contact your local American Legion Hall and inquire about the availability of this service.

Displaying the Flag Outdoors
When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.

When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag - of a state, community, society or Scout unit - the flag of the United States must always be at the top except that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.

When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag's union should be farthest from the building.

When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor - to its own right.
..The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger.
..No other flag ever should be placed above it.
..The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.

When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation.

Raising and Lowering the Flag
The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.
The flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest.

Displaying the Flag Indoors
When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left.

The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, localities, or societies are grouped for display.

When one flag is used with the flag of the United States of America and the staffs are crossed, the flag of the United States is placed on its own right with its staff in front of the other flag.

When displaying the flag against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the flag's union (stars) should be at the top, to the flag's own right, and to the observer's left.

Parading and Saluting the Flag
When carried in a procession, the flag should be to the right of the marchers. When other flags are carried, the flag of the United States may be centered in front of the others or carried to their right. When the flag passes in a procession, or when it is hoisted or lowered, all should face the flag and salute.

The Salute
To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.

The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem
The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting.
When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music.

The Flag in Mourning
To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered. On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset.

The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order.

When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Cardinal Mahony and Governor Keating Are At Odds Over Level of Disclosure
Essentially, Mahony has stonewalled the National Review Board, and stonewalled the prosecutors, lied and covered up on a very significant level, and objects to his actions being compared to the stonewalling,covering-up, and lying of the Mafia.

So Mahony may try to get Keating, the one solid conservative Republican on the National Review Board (the rest of the members are, more or less, Democrat-Party-at-prayer Catholics), tossed off the board.

Keating is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But he is right on this one, and Cardinal Mahony is dead wrong, and is still trying to cover up for his pervert priests, so no one sees what a terrible job he has done.

Come on Cardinal, let the full unedited personnel files you are holding onto become public, and let the chips fall where they may. If it means you go down with a bigger thud than Cardinal Law, too bad.

If the truth be scandalous, it is better that the scandal be known than that falsehood be taken as the truth.

Father's Day Gift Suggestions
OK, Sunday is Father's Day. President Bush is up in Kennebunkport to celebrate the day, and his father's birthday. I don't think too many these days buy Dad a tie for Father's Day. Most men either don't wear them anymore, or have enough (I wear them infrequently now and have over 150). Well, if not a tie, what do you get Dad?

Hee are some suggestions.

Stop in at his favorite golf course, and buy a certificate for a round. But if he doesn't already have a tee time for this Sunday, it's a lost cause.

Find out what his favorite cigars are. Stop in at the local full service tobacconist and buy him a box (usually 20-25 cigars).

Gift certificates to Home Depot or Lowe's are great for Dads with a Mr. Fix It personality.

Borders and Barnes and Noble both offer gift cards which Dad can use to buy books, DVDs or CDs.

If Dad collects military stuff, browse around at Michigan Toy Soldier Company. But whatever you buy today you would have to ask them to overnight it.

But what a lot of Dads would treasure more than anything is 6-8 hours of having the house to himself. He'll miss you, but will enjoy the peace and quiet.

Saint Anthony of Padua
Saint Anthony was an early Franciscan, Portugese by birth, who gave up his desire for martyrdom, and preached in Italy and France until he died at age 36. St. Francis de Sales began the tradition of invoking Saint Anthony when in need of finding lost articles.

Another Day, Another Gem Over At Ad Orientem
Mark Sullivan at Ad Orientem has a really good blog up on the Israeli/Palestinian issue. He pulls together a number of currents that need to be understood. First, the Mufti of Jerusalem of the '20s and '30s, whose terrorist activities are the inspiration for Arafat and his allies, was rabidly pro-Nazi (he even had a little sit down with Hitler during the war, depicted in a photo at the top of Mark's post), and violently anti-Jewish

Second, while the Jews have a long history as a distinct people, the Arab inhabitants of what became Palestine/Israel are ethnically and religiously indistinguishable from Jordanians, Lebanese Moslems, or, in the Gaza area, Egyptians, and were not considered a distinct people until after the creation of Israel. So the concept of a "Palestinian nation" is a rather new thing.

Third, the press continues to portray the conflict in a tit-for-tat manner that makes it seem as if there is moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinian terrorists. There is not. Israel has, from the beginning, been engaged in a struggle for survival, beset as she is with hostile neighbors. I am not as pessimistic as National Review's John Derbyshire about the eventual status of this modern "crusader kingdom" (Derb says inevitably gone in 30 years or less). But I do worry about the eternal vigilance that is required to keep the Jewish people of Israel alive. As Mark says, if the Palestinians disarm, they will be rewarded with a state. If the Jews disarm, they will be murdered in the millions.

And he quotes James Lileks saying something that I have felt for a long time. There is no point talking about the peace process. It will never work. What is the point of discussing the fine points of President Bush's proposal when it is a non-starter?

I haven’t written much about the “Roadmap to Peace” for the same reason I wouldn’t write much about attempts to crossbreed a llama with a vacuum cleaner: I don’t think it’s going to work. I never thought it would work. The only question is how many dead Israelis it will take before the point is made, for the 3,234th time.

Rush Limbaugh last year stirred up a fair amount of controversy by saying that there can never be a successful peace process in the Middle East until Israel is allowed to conquer its enemies and dictate the terms of that peace. I think Rush was right then, and I think Mark and James are right now. The only terms the Palestinians will accept (short of machine gunning every last Jew) will be those they have no choice but to accept at the point of a gun that will be kept trained on them forever. Sad to say that. But there it is.

Either allow the Israelis to absolutely do whatever they want with the present Palestinian leadership/"national" structure in the hope that they will exterminate the terrorists and raise up and train a new generation of Palestinian leaders to whom the concept of violence against Israel is absurd and abhorrent (which means backing off on the Palestinian state idea for 20-40 years) or accept a constant bloodbath in the Holy Land.

27 Dead Pro-Saddam Terrorists
A good day for Iraq, the US, and the world.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

A Good Thread On Liturgical Dance
At FreeRepublic.com.

By the way, I see that GIRM implementation is supposed to go into effect July 1st. That may be what the priests' confab in Boston is about after all.

Requiescat In Pace
For the second time today, we are marking the death of one of America's great media personalities. This time, it is actor Gregory Peck, who died today at the age of 87. I've seen a good few of his movies, and best remember MacArthur, The Boys From Brazil, Pork Chop Hill, Twelve O'Clock High, Spellbound, Moby Dick, The Scarlet and the Black, The Guns of Navarone and best of all Captain Horatio Hornblower. He did a lot of work for liberal causes, which of course we don't care for. But he was a good actor. Requiescat in pace.

Neighbor and fellow cigar lover Domenico Bettinelli is reporting that all priests of the Archdiocese have been summoned to a special meeting by Bishop Lennon next Tuesday.

Tuesday is the day the Vatican usually announces new American bishops.

But, as Domenico says, it could be something else, such as the announcement of numerous parish closings. That could be the sort of nasty job Bishop Lennon would need to accomplish to clear the decks for a new Archbishop. But that would take months to work out, and a new Archbishop would walk right into the opprobrium it would cause. Based on recent parish closings, that charged atmosphere will still be here 6 months from now. Unless the appointment of a new Archbishop of Boston is so "not imminent" that it is 6-12 months away.

It could be about implementing GIRM, but this is an awfully dramatic way to carry that into operation.

But whatever it is, you can be certain that something will leak out of the chancery before then.

CWN Does A Nice Fisking
The target, an AP story on pervert priests which says that, though most of the abuse is against adolescent boys, and that constitutes homsexual conduct, we ought not to jump to the conclusion that homosexuality in the priesthood is the problem.

The Blessed Mother, Or Just Condensation?
Milton Hospital here in Massachusetts has a controversy. The Boston Herald reports that an image that has appeared on one window of the hospital resembles the Blessed Mother holding the Baby Jesus. The hospital says it is just condensation in the glass.

Checking out he photo available at the link, you know as much as I do. Yeah, it sort looks like the Blessed Mother, in a sort of abstract way. Why would the Lord choose to leave a bleary and uncertain image of the Blessed Mother in glass, and not a clear and undisputable one?

A priest from a nearby parish says:

``It's a rather remarkable thing. I don't know how it happened,'' he said. ``All I can say is anything that inspires devotion is a good thing and that's certainly what this is doing.''

An Early Dose of the Silly Season
Continued smale-scale fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Check.
Palestinians continue to demostrate that they are barbarians. Check.
Supreme Court justices retiring, or not. Check.
Tax cut passed into law. Check.
Hans Blix takes parting shots at US. Check.
New diseases threaten modern life. Check.
More Boston Catholic schools closing. Check.
Democrat presidential candidates vie to see which most resembles John F. Kennedy. Check.
Evita Clinton publishes a tissue of lies and half truths. Check.
Mass SJC will soon legalize gay marriage and legislature and governor will do nothing. Check.
Al Qaeda would like to nuke us. Check.

It really is startling how little new news is going on right now, how few stories have legs. We had a flutter earlier in the week, when it was rumored that the Vatican would name a new Archbishop of Boston. But it did not happen.

The first anniversary of the Dallas policy has been pretty muted, so far. Some bishops are doing a good job following the policy. Others are not even trying. Just as expected.

Haven't seen any interesting Vatican pronouncements recently.

Nothing new has broken in the Scandal (at least nothing new in Boston). There is another lull in discovery, while the lawyers for the insurance companies (the Archdiocese) manage to not return calls from the plaintiffs' lawyers and the 30 days somehow manage to slip by again.

No new priests that I am aware of have been arrested anywhere in the country for either soliciting gay sex or buggering altar boys.

Even the wretched Bishops McCormack, O'Brien, and Archbishop Grahmann have been able to keep off the front page for the last few days.

Memorial Day to Labor Day is a less intense period for news generally. In the British press, it is called the "Silly Season" when the Parliament is in recess, and the national attention is held by sex scandals, celebrity couplings, fires, murders, child abductions, and the odd development in the royal family.

Welcome to the American Silly Season.

Heck, we've been talking baseball for a couple of days.

With the Iraq campaign essentially over except for the mopping up, and the build-up for the Iran campaign beginning very slowly with preliminary diplomatic jousting, there seems little to tempt us. This will develop, but is not ready yet. We will also be righteously indignant (and justifiably so) when the SJC does what we know it will do. A new Archbishop of Boston will eventually be named. The Vatican's long-anticipated proscription on ordaining homosexuals will come, as will the new disciplinary rules about liturgical abuses. We'll see what the US bishops' do in Louisville while preening themselves for doing such a splendid job protecting the children in the last year. The Clintons may overplay their hand in backstabbing all the announced Democrat candidates (though I am loathe to discuss those people).

Something will pop eventually. Let's just hope it is not a bloody terrorist attack.

US Bombs Terror Training Camp In Iraq
The US is striking back at Saddam loyalist who have been launching attacks recently. Today, they bombed a camp at which pro-Saddam loyalists were training.

Good. But why bomb it? Bombing leaves the possibility that some of the terrorists will survive, perhaps most of them. We control the country, do we not? Have special forces quickly and silently envelop the camp, and attack, killing everyone there. Do the same for each camp that exists. End of terrorist problem.

Yankees Suffer A No-Hitter, While the Red Sox Pound the Cardinals
Sounds good to me. The Globe must not have updated the standings. I think this makes the Sox lead a game and a half, not just a half game, unless I missed something.

Requiescat In Pace
ABC newsman David Brinkley, who I remember as the host of Sunday morning's This Week and of the nightly news with Chet Huntley long before that died this morning at the age of 82. He made it pretty clear that he was no fan of the Clintons, unlike Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters, George Stephanopolous, Sam Donaldson, and everyone else prominent in the ABC news operation. As he was on his way out, he told it as he saw it. Requiescat in pace.

A Warm Humid Morning In Salem
Almost 70 degrees and very humid at 5:30 AM.

Mrs. F. was well enough to go into work this morning at her regular time to fill in report cards amd see her class (she was catching up on grading for the last couple of days). Substitutes have been handling her class since she became ill. She saw her surgeon yesterday for a post-operative follow-up (the result was very positive). This is the last full day of school. Tomorrow is a half-day with Mass taking almost all of the day. She may go in for a couple of days next week for faculty meetings, and she will have to go back to sign her contract for next year, if she is being rehired (the problem with teaching in parochial schools is the lack of tenure, so that, even with 12 years of teaching experience, you are never quite sure).

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Has the Church Made the Same Mistake With Modern Architecture That Major League Baseball Did In the 1970s?
Mark Sullivan at Ad Orientem looks back on his own coming of age as a baseball fan, and links the identification that present-day baseball fans have with the history and tradition of their teams to the sense of identification Catholics have for the saints and the tradition of the Church.

He quotes at length something Dale Price wrote about the "modern" ballpark, the sterile 1970s multi-use fields with the astroturf and the convertible fences and the traditional ballpark, making explicit the connection between the trend in Church architecture toward churches that could double as corporate meeting places and the mistake MLB allowed from about 1970-1992.

This is a connection worth exploring. Baseball and the Faith. In the church, we have the saints, our heroes of old. We have the tradition of the Mass. We have the traditional Church buildings in which the Mass was usually celebrated. They combine to form a sense of belonging, to make identification as a Catholic easier. A sense of community is readily felt, as you worship where others have worshipped for a hundred years or more (our parish celebrated its 150th a couple of years ago).

When I go to Mass at Saint James here in Salem, I am walking where thousands of other Catholics have walked for a century. I kneel in pews that have been in use for the better part of that time. I look at stained glass images of Saint Patrick, and the life of the Lord. I see murals of the wedding at Cana, the call of Abraham, side altars dedicated to the Blessed Mother. I see a church built in the style of Notre Dame, with a high arch that marks off the sanctuary and is inscribed "Truly this is the house of God..."

I see pointed arches and columns pointing the way to Heaven. I see a high altar and reredos in which is located the Tabernacle, and am reminded of the need to focus one's attention on the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, the central fact of Catholic life. Just being in a building like Saint James reminds me, should my mind wander (as it often does while the host of EECs are receiving the Eucharist for what seems like 10 minutes every Mass, or while the Music Minister is turning the Responsorial Psalm into a dirge, or working out his obsession with Marty Haugen and David Haas) of the history of the Faith, and of the purpose of the Mass.

Now go to Fenway Park. As at Saint James Parish, the team that plays at Fenway has a tradition that predates the present old structure. There is the lingering aura of Babe Ruth and Smokey Joe Wood. The confines of Friendly Fenway itself have seen Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, Dick Raditz, Yaz, Rico Petrocelli, George Scott, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, Dennis Eckersley, Roger Clemens, as well as the present-day players. I only personally remember the players from Yaz on, as I caught baseball fever around 1972 (that was when I bought my first cards). But I know about and feel a part of the laughable days of the "Jersey Street Jesters," and the struggles of the team in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Like Mark, I experienced the Impossible Dream year of 1967 through the eyes of older family members (my Dad). I know about the rest of the history because of the radio show of Larry Claflin and Clif Keane (Clif & Claf) that I used to listen to back in the 1970s, and because of the play-by-play radio commentary long on memory, short on action, of Ned Martin and Jim Woods.

And inside the park, one sees the places that remind you that you are part of Red Sox Nation, that like the Mass at Saint James, is part of your birthright as a New Englander. There is Pesky's Pole, the Green Monster off which Yaz made so many spectacular catches. The Centerfield Triangle is still there. The seat in the bleachers which Ted Williams hit with the longest home run at Fenway is still marked out. Everything about the place tells you, "This is were baseball is played."

Let me point out, too, that neither tradition is without its sorrow. At least two pervert priests were assigned to Saint James since the 1960s, and the greatest enabler of the perverts, then-Father John B. McCormack lived at Saint James though he was not assigned here. The sad history of the Red Sox since the 1918 World championship is only too well known.

But let us say you are not lucky enough to be a Red Sox fan from the Boston area, and that you are not a parishioner at Saint James in Salem. Let us say you are a Catholic in, for the sake of argument, Kansas City. And you are a fan of the Royals.

The Royals had some really great teams in the mid-late 1970s. George Brett, Amos Otis, Darrell Porter, Freddie Patek: a fine tradition to have. Those teams used to give the Red Sox fits when they came in in the '70s and '80s. You could figure on a losing record on a road trip that took you through Kansas City. But the ballpark they played in was new, as the team was, if I remember correctly, an expansion team (or moved there from somewhere else). It was one of those municipal stadia so popular in the 1970s. Astro-turf. New. Sterile. I think the football team played at the same park in the fall/winter (perhaps not). No 50 years of sorrow and heartbreak or triumph. Just a jumped-up new place. The place does not give you much of a feeling of being part of a regional tradition.

Now Kansas City is old enough to have some traditional Cathlic churches, but is also in the beyond-the-Appalachians area, where the trend towards wreck-o-vating old churches, and building new sterile worship places has probably been strongest (we in the East are often "stuck" with our old churches because of the poverty of the church: lack of funds has saved more traditional churches from the wrecking ball than I care to think).

This particular Kansas City Catholic may have grown up in a traditional church. Like many, he drifted away in his 20s, and came back, sort of, when his kids were growing up. But about ten years ago, his old parish closed its old church. A liberal pastor, seconded by a liberal majority on the parish council decided that it was time to throw out the old. They had the money, and built a new church.

This new church is in a suburb of Kansas City. Like many churches built in the last 20 years, it could be a convention center, or a function room. There is no spire, no bell tower. While there is a cross on top of the entrance, that could be easily taken off, if a developer decided to buy the building and turn it inot office space, or open a restauraunt in it. The Eucharist is not visible in the church. It is hidden away in a chapel somewhere inconspicuous on the premises. There is stained glass, but is is just pieces of colored glass. It teaches nothing. There is no crucifix in the church. The altar is in the middle of the building. The seating consists of chairs that can be moved around as needed. There are no kneelers. The sound system is state-of-the-art, and there is a permanent set-up for guitars and other instruments that require electricity as well as mikes.

Like the place where the baseball team plays, the structure is able to be used for many things. It is new and sterile. Nothing about the structure proudly proclaims that, "This is truly the house of God." It is disposable, cheap, impermanent.

Now baseball realized its mistake by the late 1980s, and began encouraging the construction of ballparks like Camden Yards, which, though they have no history of their own, evoke the traditions of other great ballparks, like Saint James' new church (built more than a hundred years ago) evokes Notre Dame.

The new ballparks have real grass. No domes. If it rains, the game is rained out. Idiosyncratic features give these ballparks their own identity. Baseball realized that parks can be new, but they have to be tied into a tradition of baseball. Parks need to reflect the area they are serving. You can get great crab cakes in the concession stands at Camden Yards.

The Church has not recognized this yet. We still see new multi-purpose worship spaces under construction. It is as if they were planning to turn the building over to old New England Congregationalists for services after Mass, and would not dream of offending them with our sacred iconography. The new churches are disconnected from the tradition of Church architecture, just as the 1970s ballparks were disconnected from the tradition of baseball. In some places, though, new Catholic churches are being built in the tradition of the older ones, and not in the mold of the Shereton function rooms. In other places, churches that have been "modernized" have been restored. Still, in the Church, the number of stripped-down protestant-looking worship places outweighs the new but traditional churches.

Baseball caught on that it was disconnecting itself from its tradition with its ballparks. The same thing may be slowly dawning on the Roman Catholic Church in the US. Why MLB, which is more concerned with the bottom line than aesthetics recognized and remedied this disconnect before the priests and laity of the Roman Catholic Church (who should be more attuned to the effect of aesthetics on worship), I don't understand.

Canada the Cesspool
Toronto court strikes down ban on homosexual marriage, then performs first marriage of homosexuals in North America.

The sad thing is that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is right behind the Toronto court. I fully expect this immoral disgrace to be legal here within 12 weeks. And the Full Faith and Credit Clause will force other states to recognize such misbegotten unions.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The Butcher's Bill
205 Coalition troops have died in the Iraqi theater of operations since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Of those, 135 were killed in hostile activities and 70 by friendly fire or other accidents, Col. Rick Thomas said. Those killed in action included 56 U.S. Marines, 59 U.S. Army soldiers, a U.S. Navy sailor and 19 British servicemen.

A total of 627 service members were injured since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 20, Thomas said

AP Wire report

So, essentially we lost a company of men (one or two women) in combat. A third of those were due to blue-on-blue firing and accidents. And the prize was one of the most strategically significant countries in the region. Possession of it gives us stretegic envelopment of both Iran and Syria. Not to mention the facts that it deprives al Qaeda of a safe haven, and that the place is sitting on top of a sea of oil.

Requiescat In Pace
Donald Regan, President Reagan's one-time Treasury Secretary and Chief of Staff died today at his home in Virginia. He was 84. Not a favorite of Mrs. Reagan, he took the fall as Chief of Staff for the Iran/Contra Scandal, though he was not involved. His background was on Wall Street. In the early days of the Administration, as Treasury Secretary, he did a good job implementing the Reagan-Kemp-Roth tax cut package and carrying out the financial reforms that have been the basis for America's general prosperity since then. The only conservatives who felt they could trust him at first were the supply-siders like Paul Craig Roberts, and Wayne Angell who worked for him at Treasury. He won their trust. He was a good servant of the public interest. Requiescat in pace.

I Love Ignatius Press
Just got their new Videos & DVD catalog.

The problem is that almost 90% of their offerings are VHS format only. Like a good many folks, we are converting our collection to DVD by buying new DVDs to replace movies we have only on VHS. We are not buying new VHS. With such a limited selection of DVDs, Ignatius is limiting its appeal to folks like us. Believe me, give me $10,000.00 to spend on DVDs and Ignatius would get its share, if it had the DVDs for sale. But without the DVD option for the vast majority of their movies, there isn't much I can do.

I understand that the warehouse is probably full of VHS-format movies. Some people are still buying VHS. Perhaps those people are Ignatius' prime demographic. Besides, I am sure Ignatius operates on a very thin margin. So putting the VHS on deep discount to get rid of them and make room for DVDs is probably not an option.

But until Ignatius offers more DVDs, I'm afraid that the arrivals of its catalogs will be opportunities to just look wistfully at what they have for sale, and wish it was in DVD.

"Four Israelis Dead; Palestinian PM Refuses To Reign In Terrorists; Israeli Settlement Demolished. Terrorists 3- Israel 0".
I've got to agree with David Horowitz' assessment of the "peace process" so far.

It seems as if we have been here before. In fact, it seems as if we have been here again and again.

A Palestinian state? Maybe in a decade or two, after Israel is allowed to dismantle and defang the current Palestinian national structure, remake the Palestinian leadership, and teach submission to the Palestinian people for a generation. Maybe they will be ready for control of a state then. But now? Absolutely not. It would just be another Yemen.

Hi, My Name Is Beelzebub, I'll Be Your Server Tonight. The Special Is Worms.

I'm Sure It Is the Safe Thing To Do, But...
Absolute safety is not possible, and some things are more important than marginal increases in safety. Massachusetts is about to enact new Fire Code rules that will pretty much eliminate displayed student artwork and much classroom decoration.

Of course all that paper hanging on the walls is a fire hazard. Candles burning in churches are a fire hazard, too. The Easter Vigil, with its hand-held candles, is an invitation to a tragic conflageration.

Mrs. F. teaches a primary grade at a parochial school. She prefers a more minimally decorated classroom than many of her collegues. Some teachers so overload their classrooms with colorful stuff that one wonders how the kids can ever concentrate. But even with Mrs. F's minimalistic approach, there are cork bulletin boards routinely covered with paper, paper seasonal decorations on the windows, student papers and artwork displayed in the hall (changed around every week or so), a welcome sign made of paper on her door for the first few weeks.

Good-bye to all that, if these rules are enforced. The hopeful sign is that the rules under consideration are actually a softening of the existing rules, which are somewhat tougher, and are ignored. Will these new rules be ignored, too?

Fire safety in schools is good. Evacuation is practiced frequently. Open flames are verboten. There is not much need for tougher rules. Unfotunately, when such a need is recognized, it will be after a disaster. But I don't think school decoration is a disaster waiting to happen. Only the most paranoid would see it as such.

Past 6:00 O'Clock On A June Tuesday Morn...
And no news from the Vatican on a new Archbishop of Boston.

Would You Believe It?
Morning. And both Blogger and Haloscan seem to be working.

Monday, June 09, 2003

And Blogger Is Going Down Tonight
They say for an hour for "emergency hardware replacement." Gerbils must be tired. We'll see about the hour.

Sorry About Comments Being Down
It is a Haloscan problem.

I was leaving a comment at Mark Shea's this morning and saw something I had never seen before. A prompt came up that said "This Account Has Been Suspended: See our billing/payment office," (or something like that). As we all know, Haloscan is free. I don't pay for it. Mark doesn't pay for it. And you don't pay for it. Unless Haloscan is becoming a paid service, and this was its tactful way of announcing that to us, the prompt (that deleted my comment) was a true glitch. These glitches are much too frequent. YACCS, when last I looked, was not taking new subscribers. So the alternatives do not seem to be viable.

Lots of Sources Now Saying It Is Not Wuerl, and It Is Not Imminent
We shall see. John Allen has joined the "not Wuerl, and not now" chorus. If it is not Wuerl, I certainly hope it is neither Flynn nor O'Brien, both of whom would be examples of extreme lacklustre appointments. Neither seems like the sort who would challenge Boston, but look like rather less conservative repeats of Cardinal Law. If the position is still open, Bruskewitz or Chaput are still my preferred candidates.

Stuff I Am Looking Forward To In June
*The release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
*The opening of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
*The re-opening of the Peabody Essex Museum here in Salem

With regard to Harry Potter, I read the first four books in January 2002, shortly after seeing the first movie. I really don't see what the fuss was about. Maybe it is just because I live here in downtown Salem, the world capital of Wicca/paganism, and have seen enough of what those deluded people believe in as "witchcraft" to see that it has no relationship to the fantasy world of J.K. Rowling to be disturbed by it. Frankly, I resisted reading the books so long, not because of "occult influences" that I feared in them, but because they are kids' books.

Well these books, in length and complexity, are less and less childrens' books. The Goblet of Fire left things at a fascinating place in the plot (and also a fairly dark one). And I agree with the critic Mark Shea quoted at length a couple of weeks ago, who said that, what is being woven here will, in the end, be seen as a tale with a message fully acceptable to Christians.

Phillip Pullman, on the other hand, seems to be a genuinely evil influence.

Long-time readers will know that I am a huge Patrick O'Brian fan. I read the first 18 novels in the Aubrey/Maturin series in 6 weeks. In that time, as for many readers of these novels, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin became almost living friends, certainly companions of great value to the reader. The loving period detail, the elegance of O'Brian's writing, his skillful weaving of themes and plot devices from Dickens, Shakespeare, Homer, Austen, and Fielding are worthy of a master. The Aubrey/Maturin series, really one novel in 20 volumes, though each stands alone, will be seen as the best English-language novel of the late 20th century.

So I have been very eager to see what Hollywood will do with O'Brian. What I have heard does not give me great hope. The casting of the movie seems "off." Aussie thug Russell Crowe plays the genial Lucky Jack Aubrey, and seems more unkempt in stills and trailers I have seen than the Jack Aubrey of my mind. Paul Bettany, a notably unsuccessful Chaucer in the odd A Knight's Tale, plays Doctor Stephen Maturin. Stephen is supposed to be dark, small, ugly, and notably shorter than Jack. Bettany is blonde, not bad-looking, and 4 inches taller than Crowe, who does not look much like the description of Aubrey (long, very yellow blonde hair, well over 6 feet tall, and inclined towards obesity, with a genial open face).

And the fact that Master & Commander is the first novel in the series (and takes part in the Med) while The Far Side of the World is the 10th novel, and that they have been somehow combined in this movie, does not create a lot of confidence. What would I have liked? A lovingly faithful adaptation like the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies that takes each novel in turn (perhaps more than one filmed at once). But we shall see.

The Peabody Essex Museum, a block from my house, was born over a decade ago in the merger of the 19th century Peabody Museum and Essex Institute. Mrs. F. and I spring for a membership sometimes (though as Salem residents we have been able to tour and use its library for free). It is the best source for the history of Salem. Much of its collection of curiousities made its way back to Salem with merchant vessels of the 19th century. Its maritime history and Asian export collections are quite excellent. The museum has been closed since last year while undergoing a $60 million architecturally dubious expansion. Though it has blighted the Essex/Liberty/Charter Street area with a steel/glass/brick/concrete monstrosity that rather looks like a gigantic catepillar (or slug), it will make it possible to see more of the museum's extensive collection. One of the new features will be an 18th century Chinese merchant's house. It re-opens later this month.

Update: Looks like one of the things I had been anticipating for June will not happen. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which I saw a trailer for last year that indicated it would be out in June, looks like it will not be out until November 14th. I thought there was very little hype for the movie. Now I see why.

The Holy Father's Just-Wrapped Up Croatian Trip Was His 100th Foreign Pilgrimage

A Number of Good Responses To Cardinal Mahony's Bile-O-Gram (via Tod Tamberg) For George Neumayr
Was this, indeed the Archdiocese of L.A.'s official response? Pretty intemperate, if it was.

A priest whose views I respect indicated that a Tod Tamberg studied for the priesthood for a year or two with him, but washed out. He said the Tod Tamberg he knew 20 years ago was pushing the same crap Cardinal Mahony's spokesman Tod Tamberg directed at George Neumayr last week.

Speculation On Wuerl Growing
Sources other than the Boston Globe have weighed in on the possibility that Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh will be named the next Archbishop of Boston, possibly as early as tomorrow morning. WBZ Radio was exploring the option this morning.

Wuerl was quoted yesterday as saying that this is all speculation, and that no one knows except for the Holy Father. True. The thing about papal appointments is that you never know who is on the list, and why one or another isn't chosen.

But given the other listed choices, Wuerl seems to me to be the best of the lot. If the others actually under consideration are as detailed by the Globe, that is.

Pennant Fever Grips Hub!
Hey, the Boston Red Sox find themselves in first place in the American League East this morning, after they clobbered old friends (formerly a minor rival from the old American league East) the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, while the Yankees slipped against their National League opponent. A half-game lead on June 9th isn't much. But with our pitching and the torrid pace the Yankees have shown that they are capable of, it is probably as sweet as the season will get for Sox fans.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Wuerl of Boston?
The Boston Globe earlier today had an article up speculating that the Vatican is set to name a new archbishop of Boston very soon, perhaps as early as Tuesday morning, and that the insider was Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh. Bishop Wuerl is a Franciscan who, I have heard it said, often does his own cooking. An example of personal holiness and simplicity would challenge the priests and laity of Boston quite a bit. That would not be a bad thing.

I won't deny that I would have preferred the appointment of Bruskewitz or Chaput (Chaput much less, as he is something of a liberal on issues of liturgy and church design). Boston really needs someone who will kick butt and take names, and excommunicate as needed. But Bruskewitz is only a few years from retirement. He is one of a kind. There are no carbon copies among the ranks of American bishops. Father Wilson would, I think be a great choice, or Father Rutler, or Father Shaugnessey, or Father Fessio. But the Vatican does not promote from priest direct to Archbishop very often. Bishop Wuerl may not be all that I had hoped for. But I will keep an open mind. Bishop Wuerl will have my support and my prayers if he is appointed to the See of Boston.

Pentecost Sunday is known in the British Isles as White or Whitsunday (and the time period as Whitsuntide). Before the Reformation, it was celebrated in many places by letting a white dove into the church through a hole in the ceiling.

The Sequence for the day, was translated into English thus:

Come, Holy Ghost, send down those beams,
Which sweetly flow in silent streams.
From Thy bright throne above.

O, come Thou Father of the poor,
O, come Thou source of all our store,
Come fill our hearts with love.

O Thou of comforters the best,
O Thou, the soul's delightful guest.
The pilgrim's sweet relief.

Rest art Thou, in our toil most sweet
Refreshment in the noon-day heat.
And solace in our grief.

O blessed light of life Thou art,
Fill with Thy light the inmost hearts
Of those that hope in Thee.

Without Thy Godhead nothing can
Have any price or worth in man,
Nothing can harmless be.

Lord, wash our sinful stains away
Water from heaven our barren clay,
Our wounds and bruises heal.

To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow,
Warm with Thy love, our hearts of snow,
Our wandering feet recall.

Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord,
Whose only hope is in Thy Word,
Thy sevenfold gift of grace.

Grant us in life Thy grace, that we
In peace may die, and ever be
In joy before Thy face. Amen. Alleluia.

Outside the Mass, in the village, there would sometimes be performances of Morris dancers (the phrase "A Whitsun morris dance" appears in Shakespere's Henry V ).

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