Saturday, August 31, 2002

Don't Forget the Screen John the Baptist Poll
So far, Michael York has a razor-thin margin over Charlton Heston in light holiday weekend voting. Alan Badel and Robert Ryan are bringing up the rear. Cast your vote for the best portrayal of the "Voice of One Crying In the Wilderness" by leaving your choice in the comments box here or one of the two earlier reminders. The winner will be announced Tuesday, am. If you know of another portrayal, feel free to vote for that actor as well.

Bet We Eventually Get These Guys On Waivers
According to the Washington Times, the US Episcopal Church is busy persecuting some conservative pastors, members and leaders of the Forward In Faith movement. In England, Anglican ministers are coming over to Rome in significant numbers, not seen since the New Oxford Movement. The issues of open homosexuality in the Anglican ministry, ordained women, and other leftish issues are pushing more conservative pastors out. It looks as if it is headed in that direction in this country, also.

Our Church can use some more theologically and morally solid priests. One of these pastors is married, but we have an accommodation worked out for that. These pastors will probably, if they hold to historic precedent, spend years trying to work things out with the Episcopalians. Then, when it becomes clear that there is no longer a place for them in that communion, they and a decent part of their congregations will make the switch.

Uneven Massachusetts Apple Crop
According to this article in the Boston Globe, the 2002 Massachusetts apple crop will be about 18% smaller this year than last. Many growers in the Berkshires saw their crop devastated by an April heat wave followed by a May killing frost. One orchard in that region will only produce 1/6 of its normal yield. Growers in Eastern Mass expect smaller crops (an average of 6/7 of last year's crop) but larger, richer fruit. Nationally, the apple harvest may be the worst in 15 years. This could push prices for Massachusetts apples and cider significantly higher.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
As fall is coming on, the time when it is no longer too hot to cook in our house, a new weekend feature, A Feast of Our Own will be appearing at Verus Ratio. Hey, on the very first day I warned you I might talk about food once in a while, as both my wife and I enjoy cooking. Instead of doing it at random, I've just decided to make it a regular feature. This will be my chance to wax enthusiastic about genuine Boston Baked Beans, the joys of a Vermont cheddar, New England apple cider, the history of mince pies, Christmas menus, hand-picked strawberries, and what goes well with a goose liver pate. I'll also point out good places to buy certain items here in Greater Boston.

If this sort of thing is a big turn-off for you, just skip it. I'll still be blogging about everything else that interests me, including on weekends. Our other semi-regular weekend feature, Liturgical Abuses will continue next weekend with a jeremiad on the homily.

Friday, August 30, 2002

Catholic Homeschooling Week on Verus Ratio
Since next week is the traditional back-to-school week in these parts, I will try to post something on the topic of Catholic homeschooling each day next week. So watch for elements of that theme starting Sunday and Monday.

Sidelight On The Real Beverly Hillbillies
As anyone knows, the real Beverly Hillbillies was not the bottom-dwelling reality show about to nauseate everyone, but the 1960s sit-com. But did you know that Buddy Ebsen is still alive? Did you also know that he was mentioned by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby (as a dancer)? If Ebsen was enough of a cultural icon in the 1920s to be mentioned by Fitzgerald, he must be the only cultural icon of that time still alive. Lord bless him.

Peter Vere Explains the Case For Father Maes
Very much worth reading.

National Catholic Reporter In A Snit
The National Catholic Reporter is very upset that the International Commission on English in the Liturgy is no longer providing the official translation. When conservatives win even a tiny victory, the left always gets its knickers twisted. It is as if they have a Brezhnev Doctrine of their own; that whatever they capture can never be lost. Sorry to disappoint the comrades at NCR, but it is all fair game.

Thanks to Mark Shea for the link.

It's Official: Play Ball!
Baseball has averted a strike. Ratification is expected within a week. No games have been cancelled, but the details will not be available for some time.

A Nice John Ford Tribute Site

Planned Parenthood Worker Whines
The Planned Parenthood apparatchik whose wedding was cancelled when the priest realized that she worked for one of the primary outlets of the Culture of Death is whining to the press.

Hey, if you are so indifferent to the rights of the unborn that you assist in their murder on a large scale, don't look for sympathy when you are inconvenienced in using the services of the Church.

Strike Averted
CNN and MSNBC are reporting that an agreement has been reached that will, if ratified by the players, avert a baseball strike. One report indicates that there will be no contraction of MLB teams until 2006. I don't know it that gives the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins new leases on life in those cities, or whether it means that the teams will just continue in other venues. Developing...

For Those Who Love Baseball
I saw an article in the June or July Early American Life (dead-tree only publication) about a league of "vintage" baseball teams, who are costumed in the fashion of the mid-19th century, and play according to rules now long gone. The idea seems so quaint that it has much appeal. I don't think there is a Massachusetts team yet. When the phenomenon comes here, I'll be sure to be in the audience.

Here is a link for the Vintage Base Ball Association. This is an interesting combination of sports and re-enacting.

I think it is a lot more difficult to learn to be a decent baseball player than it is to learn the 1764 Manual of Arms. I was a perpetual rightfielder (singles hitter, poor fielder) when I played baseball or softball (though I did manage a team, and even pitched a 1-2-3 inning once in high school intra-mural softball). But I've been a proficient soldier (rose through the ranks of one of the most famous AmRev British regiments) and commander (commanded everything from a corporal's guard to an army).

The difference is that you need to only master the basics of how to handle a musket and march to be a decent military re-enactor. The rest is theory, book-learning, and presentation. To be a good vintage baseball player, you actually need talent. As you become fatter and less flexible with age, in military re-enacting you move up in rank, and have to exert yourself less. Unless you become a manager, this is not true of vintage baseball.

So look at the September schedule and see if there is a game scheduled for your area (Ohio & Pennsylvania seem to be hotbeds of this new-old brand of baseball). If so, go out and support these very gifted and dedicated performers. Enjoy the base ball of a more innocent time. The kids will love it.

Reporters on the scene say the members of the Red Sox are boarding a bus to take them to Logan for tonight's game in, I think, Cleveland. The sides are close enough to a deal to allow the players to prepare for tonight's scheduled games. Baseball could survive a cancelled day or two. But a strike that goes much beyond that would be the death knell for the sport.

Now It Is Time To Clean Up the Mess
Archbishop Dolan has been officially installed as the replacement of Archbishop Rembert Weakland in Milwaukee. After the celebrations are done, it will be time to roll up the sleeves, and set to work cleaning up the mess left by Weakland. There is much work to be done. May God bless Archbishop Dolan in this important work.

Pakistan Claims bin Laden Dead
Pakistan claims that Osama bin Laden died late last year or early this year in the bombing, or because he could not get medical attention. However, US intelligence has no clear information. Many in the intelligence community believe he is alive, and in Pakistan.

Defining Deviancy Down
In today's Washington Times, Linda Chavez reflects on the declining standards of society, and the consequences. In the background, pedophiles are struggling to "mainstream" their perversion, as homosexuals did before them. Bestiality practitioners next?

James Robbins On Iraq War
National Review On Line's James Robbins has some sensible reflections on the war with Iraq.

John Ford
Twenty-nine years ago today, director John Ford died. This Irish Catholic (born John Martin Feeney in Cape Elizabeth Maine) teamed with John Wayne to remake the American western. He was also an Admiral in the US Navy Reserve (during World War II he worked in the Field Photographic Branch of the OSS). The list of his accomplishments is impressive. His films included Stagecoach, Young Mr. Lincoln, Drums Along the Mohawk, Tobacco Road, How Green Was My Valley, My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, Mister Roberts, The Last Hurrah, The Horse Soldiers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, and How the West Was Won.

In their time, if a drama didn't bear the name of John Ford, or Frank Capra, or Alfred Hitchcock, or Billy Wilder, or Daryl Zanuck it probably wasn't worth the price of admission. It is these directors and producers whose works are still watched today.

New Look
Rush Limbaugh.com has a classy new look this morning. Check it out here. The master stays one or two steps ahead of the rest of the field.

Old Dog Learns New Trick
Up until the last blog, I have been re-typing the URLs for all links. The result was that there were sometimes errors in the URL. It also meant that linking was a laborious task. I just discovered that I can copy and paste the URL. Huzza! This makes linking much easier. I may do more of it. Amazing what you discover as you play around with the software.

Attorney Withdrawal Raises Questions About Abuse Claim
The withdrawal of the attorney for the plaintiff in the sex abuse suit against Monsignor Michael Smith Foster raises serious questions about the validity of the claim. Read the details from today's Boston Globe here.

Still Talking
The midnight deadline for a baseball strike came and went. The parties must be close to a settlement, or the strike would have started already.

Don't Forget the John the Baptist Poll
This weekend, our contest is "Who Was the Best Screen John the Baptist?" The choices I am aware of are:

Michael York, Jesus of Nazareth
Charlton Heston, The Greatest Story Ever Told
Robert Ryan, King of Kings
Alan Badel, Salome

If you know of any other John the Baptists, feel free to nominate them.

To vote, leave your entry in the Comments section either here, or in yesterday's blog on the Beheading of John the Baptist (or in the comments box of one of the reminders I will be posting over the rest of the weekend). I'll tally up the votes and declare a winner Tuesday am.

As the Holiday Draws A Curtain Over All News
I plan to spend Labor Day weekend laboring. I have a project I need to complete, or at the very least come very close to completing. I expect to be blogging, though lightly, throughout the weekend.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

What I Hope We Can All Agree To Condemn
As I have said, these bickerings over the effectiveness of the leadership of the Holy Father are taking away from the real issue here, pervert priests and those who support them. Amy Welborn points us to a story that demonstrates the Lavender Mafia at work; how Father Lawrence F.X Brett left a trail of abused boys in Bridgeport, and Baltimore, then fled to St Maarten's while priests in the diocese of Bridgeport knew where he was, and the Paulists employed him. Read the full story here. Money to support a comfortable lifestyle for Brett in St. Maarten's has been funneled through a corporation which may, or may not, be related to the Paulist publication Share the Word.

Send Father Maes A Thank You
Father Maes, if you recall from yesterday, is the Medicine Hat, Alberta priest who has takenthe courageous stand against officiating at the wedding of someone who works for Planned Parenthood. I woud urge readers to send expressions of support to Father at the following address: stpatsch@telusplanet.net. I am sure Father Maes can use the expressions of support and gratitude.

Sometimes, I'm Just Plain Wrong
I said yesterday that the looming holiday weekend would tend to cool the embers of the Hand-Dreher/Shea battle. Things did quiet down. Shea went out of his way to sooth the ruffled feathers. But Hand has returned to the fray, this time criticizing the straightforward critique of Shea and others (Amy, Domenico, me) who find the encouraged greeting of others who happen to be sitting near you at Mass as undignified and beside the point.

I can't help but think that, if the critique of "grip & grin" had come from anyone on the left, say Father Richard McBrien (who would be a natural advocate of such practices) Hand would be all over it, ripping it to shreds. But since it was said by Mark, in whose forum Hand was severely routed on the Dreher issue, Hand suddenly became the great advocate of the pre-Mass introduction as the cornerstone of Catholic community. I think it goes without saying that this is an unprincipled approach to the issue.

In the process, Hand had some interesting comments on St. Blog's as a "substitute" for Catholic community. First of all, it is interesting that he choose to do so in blog format. TCR itself is an opinion forum, almost entirely one-sided. Secondly, Catholic community is not built by the superficial (and for the shy, highly intimidating) spectacle of introducing yourself to the congregation while the priest pretends he is Phil Donahue. "Where're you from? Tulsa? Marvelous, what a nice place." I've seen it done.

Catholic community comes from working together with fellow parishioners and fellow Catholics in projects outside the Mass that further the objects of the Church (fundraising for the support of the parish, prayer groups, Catholic homeschooling support or parochial school activities, food drives for the local homeless shelter or food pantry, even just tending the parish garden). Praying the Mass together reinforces this sense of community.

We come together at Mass as a community. But we remain individuals. Our prayers are our own, just as the fate of our souls is. I'll take the "hyper-individualism of the Tridentine era" (as Stephen called it) transferred into the context of a Novus Ordo Mass any day over Father Phil Donahue.

Skakel: 20 To Life
And rightly so.

Cat Nights III
Since my last post on the subject, we have had cooler weather. It is 59 degress now, and raining. So, the second half of August has been true to the pattern.

Midnight Is the Deadline
If negotiators can't reach an agreement by midnight, Major League Baseball will be on strike. If that happens, you can probably write-off this season. Reports are circulating that the parties are only about $8 million apart on a "luxury tax" proposal. For the sake of the national pastime, let us hope that an agreement is reached. We Red Sox fans want the full "satisfaction" of seeing our team do its annual "el foldo" without interruption.

We Fired First Shot At Pearl Harbor
Divers at Pearl Harbor have located the wreckage of a small Japanese submarine believed to have been the one fired on by the destroyer USS Ward one hour before the Japanese attack on the fleet at anchor in the harbor. The submarine was intended to be a subsidiary to the main Japanese attack, to slip into the harbor and torpedo ships attempting to get out of Pearl during the attack. It has long been believed that the Ward hit the submarine with a deck gun, and then sunk it with depth charges. If this is that submarine, the Ward's crew was right. They did fire the first shot at Pearl Harbor.

Since the sub was trying to slip into a US port to attack US shipping, this does not mean that the US has any "war guilt." We were entitled to defend ourselves. If a US anti-aircraft battery opened up before the first Japanese bomb landed, it would be the same thing. The Japanese were in the act of attacking us. The whole guilt for the war, and all the consequences thereof, lie squarely with them.

Portland Wreck Found
On Thanksgiving weekend in 1898, the steamship Portland, bound from Boston to Portland went down in a snowstorm with about 198 people on board. many were returning to Portland after the Thanksgiving holiday. No one survived. During the ten hour trip two snowstorms collided, creating 90 mph winds. The ship appears to have been driven back, as the wreck is located near Stellwagen Bank.

Teaching September 11th
Forget the NEA options. National Review On Line's Kathryn Jean Lopez has an article posted on appropriate lesson plans for September 11th. The Fordham Foundation, headed by Chester Finn, has developed September 11th: What Our Children Need To Know . This lesson plan rightly stresses the evil of the act, and the appropriateness of American patriotism. There is also a very helpful set of links. Homeschooling parents and conservative grammar school teachers would do very well to read this material. With the anniversary approaching, there are bound to be many questions raised. Consider this lesson plan a primer on framing a proper response.

Beheading Of John the Baptist
Today, the Church commemorates the beheading of Saint John the Baptist, the Precursor.

In honoring St. John the Baptist, and in recognition of the looming holiday weekend, it is time for a new contest.

I am aware of 4 actors who have portrayed John the Baptist on film: Michael York in Jesus of Nazareth, Robert Ryan in King of Kings, Charlton Heston in The Greatest Story Ever Told, and Alan Badel in Salome. Who did the best job?

Leave your answers below. The winner will be announced Tuesday am. I'll post a few reminders over the weekend.

Further Speculation
There can be no doubt that John Paul II thinks highly of Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi, whom he just switched to Milan. But the Washington Times and "Vatican and Italian insiders" are way off base in suggesting that just because of that, Tettamanzi is sure to be John Paul's successor. John Paul could live another 5 or 10 years. Lots of things can happen in that time. There might well be a regency situation, if not formally, then informally. While the Italians are bound and determined to lock up the papacy for one of their own, I doubt that the College of Cardinals, made up, as it is of cardinals from all over the world, will share that view. Four hundred years is long enough for the Italians to hold the papacy. There is plenty of talent outside Italy.

Frankly, I find the comparisons of Tettamanzi to John XXIII chilling. If accurate, this puts him very far down among the people I would like to see in the papacy. The last thing the Church needs is another John XXIII. What the Church needs is a vigorous John Paul II or Pius XII.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Rush Is Right, As Usual
Check out Rush Limbaugh's website. The graphics on Senator Leahy made me laugh out loud.

Let Freedom Ring
Conservatives' second-favorite radio talk show host Sean Hannity's book, Let Freedom Ring, is debuting at Number 3 on the New York Times bestseller list. That is something to be proud of. But old colleague Greg Mueller is a bit off in suggesting that Hannity should run for office. Yes Hannity is telegenic, but compared to Rush, he has a notably light grasp on the issues.

Boston Bars Boycott Boston Beer Co..
The Boston Herald tells us that Boston bars, including J.J. Foley's are boycotting Sam Adams beer until a meaningful gesture of apology for the Sex For Sam III desecration of St. Patrick's Cathedral is forthcoming. The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts is supporting the bars.

Good for these bars. Those of you who like beer, might consider patronizing them, and letting them know you support their stand. Just don't order a Sam Adams.

Make This Priest A Bishop!
Amy Welborn pointed out this link. Father John Maes of St. Patrick's parish, Medicine Hat, Alberta has refused to marry in the Church a Planned Parenthood employee who refuses to renounce her pro-abortion stance and occupation.

We need many, many more priests and a whole lot of bishops like this.

Good going Father Maes. Don't give in.

Mitt Softening Up Likely Opponent
Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney has been broadcasting some ads designed to soften up State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, his likely opponent. The best line: "She blew the whistle on the Big Dig? I'd like to see that whistle. It must the kind only dogs can hear." Way to go Mitt. Now just back away from Kerry Murphy Healy as a preferred running mate, and things will work out well.

A Little Common Sense
Federal Judge Mark Wolf has ruled that Massachusetts does not have to pay for the sex change operation of a man convicted in 1993 of strangling his wife.

Pat To My Purpose, But Last Week's Purpose
I wish I had read ahead in Russell Kirk's The Intemperate Professor And Other Cultural Splenetics. In the final essay, Kirk waxes eloquent on the decline in interest in classical learning. I blogged around this issue last week, but can't resist quoting this gem from Kirk. He and a friend who collected 16th and 17th century Latin texts were working their way through Scottish used bookstores (this would be in the 1950s or 1960s).

"We found for his library, in the dusty caverns of Scottish secondhand bookshops, a number of admirable things at trifling prices. There lay the noble elephant folio of Strabo, in two immense volumes, at a mere thirty-five shillings; and the Strawberry Hill edition of Lucan, beautifully bound, at five guineas; and a twelve-volume set of Cicero for a pound. In an age of progressive inflation, one commodity alone remains stable, or actually diminishes in price: good old books. At the devil's booth in Vanity Fair, every cup of dross may find its ounce of gold; but the one thing Lucifer can't sell nowadays is classical learning. Who wants Latin texts? No twentieth century Faustus disposes of his immortal soul for mere abstract knowledge. The copies of Stabo and Lucan and Cicero for which a Schoolman might have risked his life ten times over are now a drug on the market. As my friend remarked to me,'These things are cultural debris. It's as if a great ship had sunk, but a few trifles of flotsam had bobbed up from the hulk and were drifting on the surface of the great deep. Who wants this sea drift? Not the sharks. You and I are rowing about in a small boat, collecting bits of debris.'"

For the American reader, they spent considerably less than $150 in 2002 US dollars on these rare books. Their current retail would be much higher (in the thousands of dollars), thanks to better information available to used book dealers, and their ability to reach a world-wide audience through the internet.

I think I may return to this topic as material or my wits permit.

Norman Mineta In Action
Check out the picture and caption at Lucianne Goldberg's site. It is priceless, and shows how ridiculous the airport security situation is. All it needs is young men of Middle Eastern descent happily being waved onto the plane in the background.

Papal Speculation
The cancellation of the Holy Father's trip to the Philippines scheduled for early next year has fueled more speculation about an eventual succesor. I have made no secret that Cardinal Ratzinger is my favorite, and failing him, Cardinal Schoenborn (and no, I don't have any German blood). The Washington Times editorializes today on several possibilities. Ratzinger would be great under any circumstances, but has many enemies. If the College is looking for a short-term succesor, at 76 he fills the bill. Schoenborn, at 57 would be the long-term choice, which it is rumored many cardinals would not want. He also has experience cleaning up sex abuse messes, having succeeded as archbishop an offender.

Who will be the next pope is a fun game to play, but shouldn't it wait until the Holy Father actually dies? I know, I'm as guilty of it as anyone. Would liberals consider it in good taste if we started speculating on who President Bush will appoint to the Supreme Court when Justice Stevens assumes room temperature? Would it be in good taste to start a pool on the day Ronald Reagan doesn't come down for breakfast?

No matter who eventually becomes the next pope, there can be little doubt that he will be hard-put to rival the heroic efforts of John Paul II in shoring up the faith and providing a modern framework for devotion and catechesis. There is no one who can bring the depth of human experience that John Paul has endured (Nazism and Soviet communism) to the papacy.

May John Paul II reign for many years to come!

Saint Augustine
Today is the feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo, one of the most important doctors of the Church. Augustine was born at Tagaste in 354, the son of Patricius and St. Monica, who we discussed yesterday. Though subscribed as a catechumen, Augustine lost his faith as a young man while studying at Carthage. He lived openly with his mistress and had a son, Adeodatus, by her.

Augustine had become a Manichaean in his 20s, and taught rhetoric at Carthage and later at Milan. He found his faith again and, along with his son, was baptized by St. Ambrose in Milan in 387.

After his mother's death, Augustine returned to Africa, sold all of his possessions, and founded a monastery on one of his former estates. In 391, Augustine was ordained a priest at Hippo. Four years later, he was named co-adjutor of Hippo. In 396, he became bishop of Hippo. For 44 years, he served the see of Hippo.

His works, The Confessions and The City of God are basic reading for all educated people. He also left more than 200 letters, and over 400 sermons. Most of his 96 published works are considered authoratitive by the Church, and served to combat Donatism, Pelagianism, and Manichaenism.

Saint Augustine died at Hippo on August 28, 470, while the city was under siege by the Vandals.

The Mighty, Fallen
According to Matt Drudge, Phil Donahue has scored the lowest possible Neilsen rating, a .1, compared to a 1.0 for Bill O'Reilly. And Donahue is on MSNBC, which I think is carried by more systems than Fox News.

Memo to MSNBC executives: Maybe Donahue's liberalism has something to do with this.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

The Crisis Continues Part II
There were some major developments in the sex abuse scandal here in Boston today. Father Robert Gale, 61 a former Archdiocese of Boston priest living in New Hampshire, was arrested and charged with repeated instances of child rape of a boy between the ages of 10 and 14 when at St. Jude's parish, Waltham in the early 1980s.

The Archdiocese also suspended two more priests on allegations of sex abuse. Father Walter Butler, pastor of St. Mary's parish, Revere was suspended along with Father Paul Bolduc, currently on leave for health reasons from St. Anne's parish, Hyde Park. the allegations that led to the suspensions were not released.

Meanwhile, Reed Haviland, 50, a property caretaker at St. Thomas Aquinas parish, Bridgewater was arraigned on 20 counts of performing unnatural acts on a child under the age of 16.

Will it never end?

The Deficit Is Up
The Democrats are claiming that the tiny tax cut is to blame and should be rescinded, yadda, yada yadda. Bruce Bartlett called it first this past weekend, not that it wasn't entirely predictable.

If Only It Would Work For Us
National Review's editor Rich Lowry, a Yankee's fan but otherwise sane, accuses the Red Sox of trying to buy the pennant. Yankee fans know a lot about buying pennants. They just buy theirs in the pre-season. If only it would work for us. Instead, we are 7 games out, and a couple back in the wild-card race. But then again, it probably won't count for anything, as a strike is very likely.

Oh well, it will soon be time for Boston College football. The Super Bowl Champion Patriots are already playing pre-season games.

The Crisis Continues
Four priests in Detroit charged with sex abuse spanning 20 years.

Battle Of Long Island
In late August, 1776, General William Howe at the head of a large army of British and Hessian troops and supported by a fleet commanded by his older brother Lord Richard Howe, confronted George Washington's army at the western end of Long Island. Washington's army was drawn up along the high ground of the Heights of Guan on a more-or-less east-west axis. Howe, having landed from Staten Island, was south of Washington's position. Washington had around 11,000 with him (more were on Manhattan and elsewhere). Howe had over 25,000.

At Bunker Hill the previous summer, Howe had learned a healthy respect for Americans holding a fixed position. At the suggestion of his second in command, General Henry Clinton, Howe approved a plan of marching most of his forces under cover of night eastward, past Washington's open left flank at Jamaica Pass., and wheeling north and west, rolling up Washington's unsuspecting army.

On the morning of August 27, with General Charles, Earl Cornwallis leading the vanguard, Howe's forces picked up the three militia officers tasked by Washington with guarding the pass. The elite grenadiers, light infantry, and Guards filed through followed by line regiments. Once Howe was in position, the Hessian General von Heister launched an attack on Washington's right, designed to fix the Americans in place. The Maryland and Delaware troops on the right held firm against von Heister, while Howe, Clinton, and Cornwallis rolled up the American left in detail.

"Lord" Stirling, the American commander on the right, launched his 250 Maryland troops in attack after attack on von Heister's 6,000, in order to hold open an escape route to Washington's fall-back position- fortifications on the Brooklyn Heights. Finally, a handful of Stirling's men were able to wade across Gowanus Creek. Stirling himself had to surrender his sword to von Heister, after most of Washington's force sought shelter within the fortifications. Washington, watching the stand of Stirling's men from Brooklyn, exclaimed, "Dear God, what brave men I must lose this day." Howe had pushed Washington back, at a cost of 377 killed and wounded (including both British and German) against American casualties of 1,407 killed, wounded, and captured.

Howe stopped at the fortifications. He had no desire to attack fortifications head-on again. He reasoned that his brother's fleet would sail into the river separating Long Island from Manhattan, while his own army laid siege to the fortifications. It would not be long before Washington hoisted a white flag. Clinton was disgusted at what he considered cowardly behavior on Howe's part. Washington's army was demoralized by the disaster. At the cost of a 1000 casualties more, at most, Washington's army could be wiped out.

The winds proved adverse for Lord Howe's fleet for several days. On the night of August 29th, with Colonel John Glover's regiment of former fishermen from Marblehead manning the boats, Washington managed to extract the remnants of his army (some 9,000 men) from the Brooklyn Heights and across the river to Manhattan.

Howe was knighted for his victory, and rightly so. His battle plan was a masterpiece of tactical audacity, all the more amazing in its execution because very few of his troops had seen battle before. But Clinton was probably right. Had he pushed the offensive against the Brooklyn Heights, Washington would have had to hand over his sword. Faced with the defeat of Washington's main army, Congress might very well have sued for peace on generous terms short of independence. Howe could have ended the war and the short-lived American republic on August 27, 1776.

Bismarck later remarked that there is a special Providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America. I would not dispute him. Let us pray it holds.

Details On Archdiocese Unused Property
Today's Boston Herald provides details on the staggering amount of unused real estate owned by the Archdiocese of Boston. The total is almost $160 million (assessed value). The market value of much of this property may be higher. The property consists of former facilities and donated property all over the Archdiocese. The Boston real estate market is torrid right now. A good agent could get tons of cash for these properties. Selling these would not affect the operations of any parish, school, or hospital.

In the cash accounts, as of a few months ago, there was a $30 million dollar surplus raised over the years by the late Monsignor Frank McFarland, the much-loved Arthur Godfrey of Boston Catholic Television. As BCTV is now run by a creature of the Cardinal, this money is available for paying out settlements also. There is also about $40 million in insurance coverage, though some of that is disputed.

Of course, there are many better uses for the money than shovelling wheelbarrows of it into Mitchell Garabedian's and Jeffrey Newman's outstretched hands. Facilities for Alzheimer's patients, AIDS patients, abusive priests once they are out of jail, and day care facilities are just some of the uses that spring to mind.

Bankruptcy may yet be a viable option, if only to terminate any further claims for past abuse, though a filing would be a public relations disaster. But what does that matter at this point: it already can't get much worse.

Saint Monica
In the reformed calendar of saints' days (growl) today is the feast of Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine. Her traditional feast is May 4th. Monica had an unhappy marriage, in which she nevertheless persisted, as is proper. By the time of her husband's death, she had succeeded in converting him from paganism to the Faith.

But it is her relationship with her son Augustine that is of greatest interest. Augustine, when young was a Manichean and kept a mistress. Monica's constant prayers for his conversion eventually bore fruit. She had been told by a bishop she asked to try to convince Augustine of the veracity of the Faith to, "Go. Continue as you have done until now. It is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish." She died at the age of 56 at Ostia, as she and Augustine were returning to Africa from a pilgrimage to Rome.

Saint Monica is a model for us of constancy, single-heartedness in the faith, and devotion. As a model Christian mother and wife, she serves as a guide for a society so badly in need of her example.

Saint Caesarius of Arles
Today is the feast of Saint Caesarius of Arles, a Gallo-Roman of good family he was first a monk at Lerins, and later priest and bishop at Arles. As bishop of Arles, he was essentially primate of France and Spain. At Orange in 529, he convoked a council that established 25 Articles of Faith essential in the battle against Arianism and Pelagianism. He established a monastic rule that held sway in Gaul until St. Benedict's Rule supplanted it.

During and before World War II, the Japanese military used biological weapons including anthrax, on the Chinese. They did not use these weapons on our troops, because they knew we had the capacity to build these same weapons, and reciprocate on a scale they could not cope with. The Germans, likewise did not use gas in World War II, because they knew we and the British would retaliate on a massive scale, probably against German cities. Deterrence worked.

On Another Front, With Cathartic Memories
Rod Dreher penned this moving review of CBS' What We Saw at National Review On Line.

Everyone is going to be talking about what they were doing at the time they learned about the attack. I might as well join the parade. I was right here in my home office/study doing what I do every business day, preparing my daily survey of the financial markets. I had driven to an inner suburb to drop my wife off at her school, and had come back. I don't remember if I noticed any planes taking off from Logan that morning. I probably didn't. They are more or less always up there. Both my wife's school and our home are on approach and take-off routes.

The first sketchy report that a plane had struck the World Trade Center came to me from WBZ News Radio, Boston, a little before 9:00 am. At first, I passed it off as a small plane and an accident. Last Novemeber, we saw how little damage a small plane in Tampa did to an office tower. Probably not a big deal. My first thought was that it would send the equities markets lower.

The reports become more disturbing. Four planes unaccounted for, jetliners, two from Logan. Reports (false) of car-bombs at the State Department. Military aircraft being scrambled. The Pentagon. The second tower of the World Trade Center struck, not an accident. We are now at war. Pearl Harbor.

Fox News is on TV. Then the second tower to be struck collapsed. A knock at the door. A suspicious package was found in the alley behind our building, and the police wanted the building evacuated. It just seemed natural. It was only 5-10 minutes before the police verified that it was nothing.

The first tower to be struck collapsed. It was to be a welcome-back-to-school night at my wife's school. Tried my wife's cell number. Since she keeps her cell phone turned off, I contented myself with talking to the school's secretary, who said that the back-to-school night was still on (it was cancelled later). That seemed to be enough confirmation that everything was OK there. A small Catholic school in the suburbs isn't much of a target, right?

Back to the TV. Shots of people jumping out of the towers before they collapsed. Can't they get helicopters up to rescue them? People running away from the scene covered in dust. Fifty thousand people work there. Only a few thousand could possibly get out. Tens of thousands of people could be dead. Telling this to the cat while choking back tears. He is looking at me oddly, sensing something amiss. A quick calculation. Two planes, loaded with jet fuel for cross-country flights; were the two explosions combined equal in force to the detonation of a nuke? Can't do the math. Depends on the nuke, I suppose.

Wonder if anyone I went to college or law school with works in the World Trade Center. Scenes of the Pentagon on fire. President Bush en route to an undisclosed location. A brief and unsatisfying word from Barksdale AFB. Financial markets closed. End of work for the day. Just submit what I have done.

My wife got a chance to call during a free period. She saw the coverage in the faculty lounge. Seems calm enough for now. Why are there tears in my eyes? Capitol Hill and the White House evacuated. US Supreme Court not in session (not the first Monday in October yet). All of Washington on edge. Every city in the country suddenly on a war footing. One plane unaccounted for. Did I know anyone flying today? US Air Force fighters to shoot down the remaining plane once they catch it, and rightly so. All air traffic stopped. The last plane crashed in Pennsylvania. In-laws checking in from Anchorage. Some worries about a plane there, otherwise all well. TV reporting cell phone calls from the planes and from the World Trade Center to 911 and to loved ones. Heart-breakingly sad. Barbara Olson.

Other buildings near the WTC might collapse. Manhattan locked down. What about all those tanks full of aviation fuel, or heating oil, or whatever in Chelsea, Everett, Revere, etc. Lists of names of the passengers scrutinized. Did the passengers on Flight 93 mutiny against the bastards? Good for them. Palestinians cheering the news. Make them pay for that later. Retrieved the car from the Common. Police everywhere. Security guards at the Museum pacing around out front. Picked up my wife and exchanged news and hugs. Police guarding the courthouse/registry complex.

The TV is back on. My wife hates the coverage. I'm glued to it. A lot more people than they thought got out of the WTC. Logan Airport a crime scene. All the cars parked there being towed away. People looking for information about family members, friends, room mates. Not as many people in the hospital as you might think.

Reporters in the rooms the hijackers were staying at in Florida, talking to their neighbors. A cell operating in Boston. Al Qaeda and bin Laden. Afghanistan. Attending flight school and not being interested in landing procedures. Hijackers were Saudis and Egyptians (maybe, but who knows who they really were?). Who knew about it in advance? Saddam Hussein? Khadafy? Arafat? China? Time to clean up the world neighborhood anyway. Time to put out the world's trash. Guess we just became the world's policeman, like it or not.

The entire world is watching this. Chilling thought; this isn't like a battle where the number of injured exceeds the number dead by 4-6 to one. The people who didn't get out of the building are dead or dying. Intense fire. Hundreds of firemen and police among the dead.

A prayer service at Saint James that night, like the people streaming back to Church after the news of Pearl Harbor. Comforting, healing prayers in the presence of the Sacrament. An annoying reporter from some radio station with a mike in my face as we leave. More phone calls and e-mails with my wife's family. Sleeping little.

God bless America!

I don't think I've written in stream-of-consciousness since a high school exercise, and didn't intend to, or even realize I was until I was a few paragraphs in. I'm not even sure if I did an historian's first job of getting the chronology right. I left it that way, because it seemed appropriate. I haven't read any, but I'm sure hundreds have recounted their memories of the day in this format. Nihil Obstat can have a field day with the grammar of it.

Even though I didn't know anyone who died that day, I still tear up when I think about it. Get ready for more of this, as everyone, especially on the East Coast, has memories like this stored up. The next three weeks, you'll see this sort of thing somewhere every day. Glad it's out of my system. Let's roll.

Emergency Landing At Logan
According to WBZ Radio, a single-engined place carrying three just performed a succesful belly landing at Logan. The landing gear was inoperative. Amazingly, no one was hurt. Someone certainly has reason to be thankful.

UN Hypocrisy On Display
Drudge Has a priceless headline this morning. Earth Summit Delegates Enjoy Champagne, Lobster, & Caviar Nosh At Starvation Meeting. The story Matt links to, in The Sun, details the impressive list of high-priced snacks to be consumed at the Johannesburg, South Africa gathering, while poor children go hungry a few miles away in shanty towns. It may be true that we will always have the poor with us, but one would think the UN would have the common sense to order some austerity at meetings like this. But then, the UN has long been a snake-pit of hypocrisy.

Isn't it nice to know that what money we give to the UN is so well spent?

Jeb Looking Good
According to this Fox News assessment, Florida Governor Jeb Bush is sitting in the cat-bird seat for re-election. Let us hope they are right. It is hard to imagine that very odd woman Janet Reno becoming governor, though stranger things have happened.

Boston Beer Co. Amplifies Apology
Jim Koch, chairman of the parent company of Sam Adams Beer has acknowledged that he should not have stayed on the air during the Opie & Anthony Sex-for-Sam promotion. This article in today's Globe explains that this year's was the third annual edition of Sex-for-Sam on that show. So, Sam Adams was sponsoring a show promoting public sex for two years even before this year. The transcript of this year's show certainly makes it seem as if Koch was rooting things along just as mindlessly as the vacant hosts. Either Koch is mischaracterizing his genuine thoughts on the matter, or whoever has been working on promotions with the station should have been canned long ago. In either case, lay off the Sam Adams this weekend, until the shareholders make some heads roll. Just a hunch, but I think the fish rots from the head. Koch should walk the plank in the cause of the corporation's reputation. Then, if Boston Beer wants to kick a few dozen millions over to the Pro-Life movement over a few years, I'll gladly open a bottle of SA Cranberry Stout.

By the way, the "Sam Adams" on the label is Paul Revere, not Sam Adams. How phoney!

The Smoke of Battle Clears
Did anyone survive? There certainly were no victors in the Dreher-Hand fracas. Dreher came off better, whatever that counts for. Someone called Hand's postion, "My Pope, right or wrong," but I'm not sure that captures his view quite well enough. Dreher seems to have also strayed unwittingly into some decades-long grudges of Hand's against WFB and National Review.

These things have a way of dying down after a day or so, such is the impermanence of the internet. The coming holiday weekend will, I think, accelerate the process. Something else will come along to push the dispute off the front burner.

I would be more interested in seeing a debate between Dreher and Peggy Noonan on the issue of JPII's leadership.

Monday, August 26, 2002

And I Thought it Would Be A Dull Week

"And So's Yer Old Man!"
The brawl between Rod Dreher and Stephen Hand has just now entered the mud-blood-beer phase, with Hand calling Dreher Pontius Pilate and calling Bill Buckley one of the primary causes of dissent in the Church! He has also accused Mark Shea of being in league with the Devil. Dreher has gone to the old reliable, "Stephen seems to be a fragile soul..." response.

My name hasn't come up yet, but peacemakers often end up getting socked in the jaw.

Ditto what I wrote below.

"I Went To Saint Blog's and A Hockey Game Broke Out"
The controversy stirred up by Rod Dreher's comments in the Wall Street Journal last week continues. Stephen Hand of TCR was hurling anathemas at Dreher yesterday. Both are available below.

Now, I will throw my five cents (inflation) in. I already made it plain that I share some of Rod's frustration. But on the other hand, I recognize that there are practical and prudential considerations that prevent the Holy Father from doing what I would do if I were Pope (dissenters should be thanking God every day that this has not come to pass). I remember having to deal with the "limits of presidential power" even when Reagan was in office. It is sad that we have to deal with the same sort of limits with regard to the papacy.

It seems to me that TCR has been more than a little high-handed in responding to Dreher. It presents John Paul as persecuted and nearing a final test. It castigates those who criticize his leadership in the Scandal as half-hearted friends of the Faith. I think a little perspective is in order. John Paul is hated by certain liberal elements in the Church. But he is also magnificently isolated by language and position and hears only what he really wishes to hear. If he is coming to an end (and I pray his pontificate will last for years yet, as there is much work to be done, and one can never be certain of successors), it is hardly his "three o'clock on the cross." When he dies, he will be celebrated and genuinely mourned by the faithful the world over. He will then go to a deserved reward, and might very well be made a saint by acclamation. He will not die in disgrace, but in genuine and deserved honor.

I have said this before both here and in debates at other sites. It is past time for conservative/traditionalist/orthodox Catholics to adopt their own version of Reagan's Eleventh Commandment ("Thou shalt speak no ill of a fellow Republican"). Everywhere in the conservative Catholic community, there is bickering. New Oxford Review, which made its reputation as an anti-liberal publication, is fighting with clubs and fireplace tongs against Father Neuhaus and anyone who defends him, including Peter Kreeft. The Wanderer has been trying to bite Latin Mass Magazine's ear off as they roll around on the floor. Now TCR and Gerard Serafin are gouging Rod Dreher's nose.

Why waste so much bile on each other? There is a large and powerful force trying to force secular permissiveness into the Church, rather than exporting Christ and His Church's message to the world. United, conservative/traditionalist/orthodox Catholics can do much to preserve the Faith and carry His message to the world. Divided, we can accomplish little.

Guys, get up off the floor, put down the fireplace tongs, wipe the dust off, apologize as necessary, and take aim at the real enemies ("Catholics" for a Free Choice, VOTF's leaders, Dim-watt pundits like Anna Quindlen, Maureen Dowd, and Andrew Sullivan who consistently refuse to recognize the cause of the church's problems, perverts in the priesthood and those who protect them, and the liturgists and catechists who give us spectacle Masses, monsterous modern "worship spaces" and dumbed-down Catholic instruction). There are enough enemies in that camp to keep all of us busy from now until Judgment Day.

To Kneel, Or Not To Kneel
I think kneeling for the Eucharist is a matter of local practice and personal reverence. The rails have been ripped out of most Churches long ago. But in a few places here and there, they are still up. When I find myself in such a place, and others are kneeling along the rail, I join them, even if there is also a standing line. But in the vast majority of churches, the only option is the standing line.

I don't plop down to kneel to receive. It would interfere with others' ability to receive the Eucharist in a predictable manner, and might cause injuries if people behind the kneeling person are not paying attention. I understand and applaud the reverence of those who do kneel at the front of the line (though I have not seen it done, ever).

While some have suggested that this is a means of preventing priests from refusing Communion to those who kneel on their own, the phrase that receiving kneeling is no longer considered "licit" is highly troubling. Kneeling at the rail is now illicit (not permitted by custom or law; illegal). So, those who prefer the rail are now part of an outlaw culture.

Do the bishops have any common sense at all?

Senator McKinney?
According to InstaPundit, the loathsome Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) is mulling running for US Senate. A quick check on expiring senate terms tells me that Max Cleland's seat is up this year (though, surely the filing date is long past). Zell Miller is up in two years (as he is finishing the unexpired term of a Republican who died).

Even though Zell Miller has been a good senator, why does Georgia of all places have two Democrats in the US Senate?

It's Bad, But Not As Bad As Feared
Following up MJ's link below, I took a look at the order banning kneeling during Communion, and was struck by the tenuousness of the authority. The bishops' Committee on Liturgy issued the edict in its July newsletter. It hasn't been voted on by the whole body of the bishops. It has the same authority as the reflections on prosletyzing Jewish people. On its own terms, it is not binding in dioceses where the bishop does not enforce it. It is also inapplicable in parishes, etc. run by orders that don't want to follow it. But let's put a shot across the bow anyway.

As a practical matter, communion rails disappeared thirty years ago. Not one parish of the 7 here in Salem kept its rail. The Carmelite chapel in Peabody has a rail, but stopped using it (for the most part) on the appointment of a new, more liberal abbot (?) two+ years ago. I assume that across the country, a parish here and a parish there retained the rails and used them. But increasingly, the use of the altar rail has been bypassed. Parishes that use them are a remnant from a more civilized and respectful time.

Perhaps it is designed to further ecumenism (treating the Eucharist as less and less sacred to conform to protestant usage). Perhaps no longer being required to kneel to receive the Eucharist will lessen the psychological barriers for protestants thinking about making the switch to Rome. But I dislike the theology behind such a move. And I doubt that winning batches of protestants for the Faith was the motive here.

The disappearance of the rails came for the most part at the parish level. I am unaware of any authority that proscribed the custom until this. It was all a matter of pastoral preference and fashion. Even with this statement that kneeling at Communion is no longer "licit," (which I find outrageous), if you are lucky enough to live in a diocese with a conservative bishop, or regularly attend at a Church staffed by a conservative order, you will be able to continue receiving in what I consider the most respectful manner. If your parish is conservative, and the bishop too busy with other matters to care, you might be able to get away with continuing to kneel despite the USCCB. The ruling has as much effect as people are willing to give it. One is reminded of Andrew Jackson's comment after an unfavorable Supreme Court ruling, "The justices have made their ruling. Now let us see them enforce it."

But is says much about the intentions of the bureaucrats at the USCCB that they consider this mark of adoration and high respect as no longer "licit." They are indeed determined to ferret out all of the traditional usages of the fatihful. Will the traditional confessional next be banned? Is incense to be proscribed? Are the handbells during the Consecration to be done away with? Will all parishes be required to employ only altar girls? Are we to level all of our traditional churches, and build new "worship spaces"? Are we to have all guitar Masses all the time? Are traditionalists to be forced to dig new catacombs to practice the Faith in the manner of their fathers?

There is some hope, I think, for the future in the more conservative priests just now beginning their ministries. But it will be a long time before they dominate the administrative machine of the Church and the ranks of the bishops. Even then, they might not exercise the full effect of their views, but might just go along to get along. They may be satisfied with calling a halt to further "progress" and not be interested in restoration of what has been destroyed. We shall see.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Virus Update
The new anti-virus software is doing a good job, I think. It is scanning my incoming and outgoing mail. In fact, it told me it caught another virus trying to infect my system today. But certain viruses are undetectable to even the most up-to-date scans. And I am still coming up with a lot of internal errors, which makes me suspect that there is still something hiding in my system. So, until that is sorted out, I'm in a no outgoing e-mail mode. Since Blogger is a third-party host, my posts and your comments are unaffected by this problem. You won't get a virus by logging on to Verus Ratio, or commenting.

St. Blog's Readers Are A Good Source
Although I hate to confess my ignorance about anything this side of the internal workings of computers and their programming, the higher mathematics and sciences, and theological niceties, I must admit a reader has stumped me.

MJ asks below in a Comment why I haven't commented on the "order about no kneeling during Communion." I was puzzled by the question. I checked all of my usual sources, Zenit, EWTN, TCR, the Pilot, The Globe, the Herald, Drudge, NRO, Wash. Times, Fox, Amy, Mark, Domenico, Ad Orientem, and Vatican Wire to draw an absolute blank. After thinking about it for a while, a thought occured to me. Where would something so destructive come from? The USCCB sprang to mind. I checked their website and found nothing new on the subject.

On the subject generally, when given the option to recieve Communion kneeling properly at a rail (which isn't often), I always opt for it (and I receive on the tongue only, and under one Species only). I lament the falling out of favor of the practice. But I am aware of no new authority proscribing it. Nothing has crossed my radar screen this weekend about any such new order. I know a new Missal will eventually come our way, which will change a number of things, but, again, I am not aware of anything specific about not receiving Communion kneeling.

So I will leave it to you St. Blog's parishioners. Did I miss something new? If you are aware of something like this, leave me a link in the Comments. Thanks in advance.

Hold Onto Your Wallets
Bruce Barlett points out that Tuesday's release of the mid-session Congressional Budget Office budget review can be expected to show a larger deficit than previously forecast. With that, you can expect a renewed chorus from the Democrats that President Bush's tiny tax cut must be rescinded. If the Democrats want to call for higher taxes in an election year, they are welcome to it. But it would be most unwise if any concession at all is made to their position (either before or after the election). Let them eat lower taxes.

As for me, I am always touched at the Democrats' new-found love for balanced budgets. Seems to me that they spent the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s spending like drunken sailors with no regard for balanced budgets whatsoever. In fact, they told us, couched in the best Keynesian nonsense from J.K. Galbraith and Samuelson and Thurow, that a deficit was actually good for the economy. Now that there is a Republican president, and a deficit, they will do anything to take back our tax cut. Let them lower spending dramatically, not just off the projection, but in real terms.

More On California's Effort To Stamp Out Homeschooling
California, as I mentioned this week, is seeking to stop parents who are not credentialed teachers from being the primary educators of their children. Michelle Malkin points out here the absurdity of this, since so few public school teachers are actually credentialed for the subjects they teach.

What Everyone Is So Upset About
Rod Dreher's controversial remarks about being disappointed in John Paul II in his Wall Street Journal op-ed can now be read on-line here.

Skakel Sentencing
Kennedy-cousin Michael Skakel will be sentenced Wednesday for the murder of neighbor Martha Moxley 27 years ago. Skakel was convicted in June.

Paul Sullivan Stepping Down
Paul Sullivan, who for 20 years has been behind the mike every Saturday on WROL's Irish Hit Parade, is moving on to other opportunities. He will be missed. His show has focused on traditional Irish tunes, while other parts of the day-long show focus on more contemporary Irish music (gone are the days when one disc jockey performed for 6-8 hours alone on this once-a-week production).

Frankly, it is Sullivan's blend of mostly traditional Irish music that I think most of the audience enjoys. I know I only tolerate the stuff that sounds like Irish country-western that is played in the afternoon (because a few traditional songs are mixed in). My wife tolerates it much less well. If the morning program is going the way of the afternoon and evening, we may have to stop at Borders for a few hundred dollars' worth of Irish CDs, if I am to have my Irish music on Saturdays.

Paul, I have enjoyed your show since you started. Good luck with you new endeavors.

A Cold, Snowy Winter
How appropriate it is, right after talking about Dickens' A Christmas Carol, to mention that the Farmers' Almanac, which goes on sale Tuesday, is calling for a cold, snowy winter. Of course, it called for the same last winter, when we in New England got away with almost no snow and fairly warm tempertures (there was also almost no rain here, which is why we are so concerned about drought). The editors insist that they are right 75-80% of the time with a forecasting method that involves sunspots, planet position, and the moon.

This publication, which started in 1818 and is published in Lewiston, Maine, is the newcomer in the field. It is not to be confused with Dublin, New Hampshire's more venerable Old Farmer's Almanac, which began in 1792,and is now a product of Yankee Magazine. That more hallowed national icon is due out after Labor Day. We always have one in our house.

But if you predict that New England will have a cold, snowy winter, most of the time you won't be far off. We have had at least 4 mild winters in a row. We're due for a significantly worse winter, though we all hate driving in it.

Unreformed Scrooge At Work
Three rare first editions of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol were stolen August 15 from the Dickens House Museum in London. Each copy is worth between $30,000.00 and $45,000.00. One copy of a subsequent edition was also stolen. The theft is evidently the work of professionals working for a collector. The books are unlikely to be re-sold. All of which makes recovery less likely.

These books are not just a part of the the history of English literature, but significant artifacts of our common cultural heritage. Thefts like this, and the one at the Adams' family library in Quincy a few years ago, are distressing to those who seek to preserve and pass on our cultural heritage.

But I am happy to say that this Dickens' work is not threatened with being lost to us, even if all the surviving first editions disappear into private collections. In our house, there is a facsimile of the first edition, a paperback, a compilation including it, and 5 theatrical adaptations (not including Mr. Magoo's and Hanna-Barbera's, which we also have) in VHS format. I think the only works of literature we have more of in the house (in various formats) are the Bible (if you take it as such, it being that and so much more), Shakespeare's Hamlet, Pope's Essay On Man, and Fielding's Tom Jones.

Who can't recite large parts of the book from memory? Is there a Christian household in America in which this story is not known, read, or watched just about every December? I would be more distressed if it was the original of Washington Irving's Bracebridge Hall Christmas sketches, which have a much more fragile existence in the public consciousness, that were stolen.

So, while we despise acts of theft like this, we can take heart in the fact that the world Dickens created 160 years ago remains a vital part of the lives of millions. I don't think that is likely to change.

Expect Little
The time between now and Labor Day is, traditionally the slowest news period of the year (with the exception of the week between Christmas and New Year's Day and the half-week of Thanksgiving). So I would not expect much in the way of breaking news, unless al Qaeda has something planned. Sometimes, though, stories various organizations would rather everyone not see get released during these slow news times, because no one is paying attention. The Clinton Administration was famous for its 6:30-Friday-of-a-long-weekend releases of stories damaging to itself. I think the Archdiocese of Boston has learned the lesson, as several of the recent suspensions of priests have been announced over weekends.

Verus Ratio, however, will be on the job, bringing you commentary on whatever does break. If nothing breaks. I'll find something to blog about (hopefully with more success than yesterday).

Saint Louis
If our French friends want to have a national day, why not today, the feast of their national patron rather than the anniversary of the bloody butchery at the Bastille?

Saint Louis was born in 1215 (the same year that Magna Carta was wrenched from King John across the Channel). As the eldest son of Louis VIII, he became King Louis IX on his father's death in 1226. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled as regent until he came of age. In 1246, Louis went on crusade in thanksgiving for recovery from illness. After capturing Damietta, Louis himself was captured by the Moslems, and had to ransom himself with Damietta. On his return to France, he spent 16 years administering justice, aiding the poor, encouraging piety, settling private wars, and negotiating with the Emporer and the English king to achieve peaceful borders. In 1270, he set off again on crusade. This time, he died in sight of Tunis. He was buried at St. Denis, and has been the patron saint of France ever since.

Our Saudi Allies?
According to The Times of London, the Saudi Royal family has been, over the past decade, paying protection money to the al Qaeda terrorist network to prevent attacks on Saudi targets. The protection money amounted to hundreds of millons of dollars, and had been used by al Qaeda to construct and run the terrorist camps we shut down in Afghanistan and elsewhere, as well as to fund its operations.

Our Saudi "partners" in the war on terrorism have been busily diverting bin Laden's murderous attention away from themselves, and towards us, while at the same time paying for their operations. Gee, thanks guys.

How long is the delusion that the Saudi Royal family is worth the oxygen they use up to be maintained in Washington? Maybe, before taking Iraq, we should execute a lightning strike that decapitates the present Saudi government and seizes its oil fields, refineries, port facilities, and air bases and isolates all of the urban population of that unhappy state.

Then, we can think about moving on Iraq.

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