Saturday, November 30, 2002
The feast of Saint Andrew is one of the four saints' days commemorated in the messes of the British army. Andrew is the patron of Scotland. Saint George (April 23rd) is the patron of England. Saint David (March 1st) is the patron of Wales. Saint Patrick, of course, is the patron of Ireland. Saint Andrew's Day is the only one of the four not in late-winter/early-spring.
Because of my re-enacting experience, I am either a member of, or have been a guest of, the messes of regiments of all four major ethnic groups. I have dined with the Royal Welch Fusileers (23rd Regiment of Foot) officers' mess on March 1st, with the Friendly Brothers of Saint Patrick on March 17th, with the officers' mess of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment, or 42nd Regiment of Foot) on November 30th, and with the Loyal and Friendly Society of the Blue and Orange on April 23rd. These evenings are convivial occasions, with a formal dinner, many, many toasts, and seemingly eccentric regimental customs. You would not want to drive yourself home after one of these dinners.
Re-enactor officers are just being true to the characters they portray in these celebrations. John Peebles, an officer of the grenadier company of the 42nd Regiment celebrated St. Andrew's Night thus in his New York-area garrison in 1779:
Went to town to celebrate the day with his Ex (he mounted a round blue device with a white Saint Andrew's cross in his regulation highland bonnet-GTF): where the field offs. & Capts. of the 42nd. were invited , the Adml. there the offrs. of the Royal Highland emigrants & some others, about 24 in all. Major Small personated the Saint who gave very good toasts & apropos for the occasion. The Adml. very chatty & entertaining. Major Hay sang some good songs & spouted a prologue very well. A good dinner & drink till 10 o'clock. A numerous party of the Sons of St. Andw. din'd at Hick's above 60, among whom were the subs. (subalterns: lieutenants and ensigns- GTF) of the 42d. Exchanged a complit. & some of our Compy. join'd them after we broke up, & made a night of it.
John Peebles' American War 1776-1782, edited by Ira Gruber, 1997.
We wish our Scottish friends a happy Saint Andrew's Day, with much enjoyment of that stuff distilled in the Highlands and a good haggis.
Today, the Church celebrates Saint Andrew, brother of Simon Peter, disciple of John the Baptist, and apostle of the Lord. Andrew was a fisherman from Capharnaum. He was with John the Baptist at the time of the baptism of Jesus, and followed Him from that time, later bringing Peter into the fold of the apostolic college. It was Andrew who reported the state of the food supply to the Lord before the feeding of the five thousand. But ortherwise, he appears to have faded into the apostolic group.
Andrew exercised his ministry in the region of the Black Sea, and was crucified on an "X" form crucifix at Patras in Achaia. He is the patron of fishermen and fishmongers, as well as patron of Scotland.
Hanukkah began last night at sundown. We wish all of our Jewish friends and neighbors a very happy Hanukkah with their friends and family.
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
The first is from Governor William Bradford's history of the Plymouth Colony. The second is from Mort's Relation.
"They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; for some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no wante. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter aproached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degree). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they took many, besids venison, &c. Besids they had aboute a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corne to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports."
William Bradford. "Bradford's History "Of Plimoth Plantation." Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., State Printers... 1898. p. 127
"Our Corne did proue well, & God be praysed, we had a good increase of Indian Corne, and our Barly indifferent good, but our Pease not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sowne, they came vp very well, and blossomed, but the Sunne parched them in the blossome; our harvest being gotten in, our Governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a more speciall manner reioyce together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst vs, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoyt, with some nintie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed fiue Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed upon our Governour, and upon the Captaine, and others. And although it be not alwayes so plentifull, as it was at this time with vs, yet by the goodneses of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
E.W., Plymouth, in New England, this 11th of December, 1621. in A RELATION OR Iournal of the beginning and proceedings of the English Plantation settled at Plimoth in NEW ENGLAND, by certaine English Aduenturers both Merchants and others. LONDON,Printed for Iohn Bellamie,..1622. pp. 60-61.
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And so the Lord be thanket.
May God be gracious to us and bless us;
May He look with favor upon us,
That men may know His way on earth,
His saving power among all nations.
May the people give thanks to Thee, O God,
May all the peoples give thanks to Thee.
May the nations be glad and rejoice,
For Thou judgest the peoples justly
And rulest the nations on earth.
May the peoples give thanks to Thee,
O God may all the peoples give thanks to Thee.
The earth has yielded its fruit:
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God bless us,
And may all the ends of the earth fear Him.
I am thankful, above all, for Mrs. Fitzpatrick. She fills my life with happiness and love.
I am thankful for my Guardian Angel, who has protected me from calamities beyond numbering, both known to me and unknown.
I am thankful for St. James parish, a lovely place to worship as part of a community of faithful people, and for Father Dan Flaherty, a great pastor.
I am thankful for living in an historic city, despite the many faults of its current leadership.
I am thankful for rewarding and challenging employment.
I am thankful for an abundance of food, a happy home, and a loving family of wife and cat.
I am thankful for President Bush and his advisors, most of the time.
I am thankful for the dedicated folks in our armed forces doing their best to keep the peace and make tyrants and would-be tyrants tremble, all the time.
I am thankful for the results of the election, and hopeful that they will usher in a happy period of productivity and security for our country.
I am thankful for Blogger, especially when it works, as it allows me a forum that bypasses the editorial control of others.
I am thankful for liberty, and anxious for more economic liberty.
I am thankful for beautiful and tasteful architecture all around me, especially that of Samuel McIntire, which provides a fitting environment for a measured and balanced life.
I am thankful for my education (and those who have contributed to it), what knowledge I have, and the wisdom of others, without which my own insights would be excessively poor and meaningless.
I am thankful for authors, poets, and playwrights, living and dead, whose books I have read during this year: Russell Kirk, Michael Rose, Victor Davis Hanson, John Derbyshire, Peggy Noonan, Thomas Sowell, Alexander Pope, James Duncan Phillips, John Keegan, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Bernard Cornwell, David Hackett Fischer, Patrick O'Brian, Max Hastings, Rev. William Bentley, Robert Frost, Paul Johnson, Father Omer Englebert, Father Joseph Frey, Allen French, Haydn Pearson, George Weigel, Peter Kreeft, Horace, E. Christian Kopff, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harold Murdock, J. Wentworth Day, Steven Nissenbaum, Stuart Reid, William Bennett, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Evelyn Waugh, P.G. Wodehouse, Richard Brookhiser, T.S. Eliot, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, J.A. Houlding, Michel de Montaigne, and others not immediately recalled. They have enriched my understanding of man's role in God's creation.
I am thankful for those engaged on parallel courses of the common enterprise, my neighbors Domenico Bettinelli and Mark Sullivan, Amy Welborn, Mark Shea, William Luse, Stephen Hand, Joshua Claybourn, Peter Vere, Eve Tushnet, Kathryn Lively, and everyone at St. Blog's Parish. You are a daily inspiration. Lord bless you all.
And I am thankful for all those who read my offerings every day, every week, every month. Thanks. You keep me honest and on my toes.
A happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you and to your families. May God's blesssings continue to fall upon us all.
On this Thanksgivng Day, Lord, we Your people count our blessings, which You have given us. With joyful gratitutude, we raise our voices in praise of the Author of creation.
We thank You for the gifts of life, free will, and good health of both body and mind.
We thank You for the bountiful food we eat, the warm clothes we wear, the shelter of our homes, the love and comfort of our families.
We thank You for gainful and challenging employment.
We thank You for a free country, made prosperous by Your grace and the effective exercise of our free will.
We thank You for the rights to earn our bread, speak our minds, elect our leaders, choose our friends, protect our families, and worship You.
We thank You for those who make our freedom possible, EMTs, doctors and nurses, firemen, policemen, soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, Coast Guardsmen, agents, analysts, and national leaders.
We thank You for the sacrifice of so many brave young men who have given the last full measure of devotion, and for all who have served, so that we may live free in this land You have provided for us.
We thank You for the gift of Faith which helps us to understand that we shall transcend all difficulties through Your grace.
We thank You for your Church here on earth, divided as it is, troubled by sin, beset by Satan, yet ultimately triumphant.
Most of all, Lord, we thank You for Your Sacrifice on Calvary, which opened the gates of Heaven to us, giving us the promise of eternal life.
We adore and thank You, Oh Christ, and we praise You, because by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.
Today is likely to be a light blogging day. Many people are already off for the Thanksgiving weekend. Mrs. Fitzpatrick has a half day today, while I'm working until my usual early afternoon deadline. I don't plan on blogging tomorrow, though if something major comes up, I'll be around. Friday will probably also be a light blogging day.
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
After a whole four months of marriage, Nicholas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley have filed for divorce. These celebrity "marriages" have been a thorn in the side of society since movie stars became cultural icons. They are a mockery of the institution of marriage. Since the celebrities flitting into and out of marriages are highly visible, they provide a terrible example for society as a whole. A lady co-worker of mine, on the collapse of her third marriage (at age 26) once told me that she was hoping to have as many marriages as Elizabeth Taylor. That was four years ago. She has proabably accounted for at least one more since then.
It used to be that the studios pushed highly unsuitable stars together for the public relations benefit (Cary Grant and whoever he married comes to mind, not to mention Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman). Now I suspect that the driving force in many of these unions is the stars' agents and accountants. Do these people get to know one another at least before they tie the knot. Even with all of Golconda at your fingertips, some people just can't live with each other. Doubtless, there is virtually nothing in the way of spiritual preparation beforehand.
With marriage being undermined by growing liberal acceptance of homosexual unions, tax disadvantages for married couples, no-fault divorce, societal expectations that the first marriage (at least) is a "trial run," drug use, rampant materialism and hedonism, marriage has enough trouble without Hollywood figures making a mockery of it, changing spouses more freqeuntly than some of them change their underwear.
On the other hand, there is good news from some Hollywood marriages. Bob & Delores Hope. Mr. & Mrs. Mel Gibson. Mr. & Mrs. Charlton Heston. Why does it seem that all the good marriages involve Republicans (though not all the Republicans have had good, stable ones: Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood)?
No dollar figures are available, but the Diocese of Manchester, NH, has settled with 62 pervert priest victims. Of the 62, all but 6 are male.
Cardinal Law met with representatives of Voice of the Faithful today. The Globe has details here. He'll give them what they want, too, I'll bet (if not all at once, gradually).
Last night, Mrs. Fitzpatrick and I plugged The Crucible into the VCR. In a supporting role in the movie was well-known character actor Jeffrey Jones (he played Thomas Putnam). Now Jones is a talented actor who has been in a number of movies we like. He was Thomas Jefferson in George Washington and the Forging of the Nation. He was Emperor Joseph in Amadeus. He was the principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He was the not-altogether-unlikable husband of the disgustingly modern family that moved into the house in Beetlejuice. He was in Sleepy Hollow as a lecherous minister. He seems to prefer period pieces, which we watch as a rule. But when we saw his name in the credits at the start of the movie last night, our lips curled in disdain.
In case you missed it, Jones was picked up, along with Paul Reubens, in a child pornography sweep last week. He is accused of propositioning a child to pose nude for pictures, as well as possession of child pornography. In fact, guilt, while not yet proven in court, is not much of an issue, as he was picked up in a sting. No matter how good an actor Jones is (and his appeal is not universal) how could anyone look at him with the same openness after a revelation like that?
In fact, as a society, we need to express disapprobation of those who transgress normative morality. This is especially the case when norms that protect the dignity of certain people or groups are ignored. Putting children in sexual situations is one of them. Sexual assault on the helpless is another. Sex with animals falls into the same category. Open sexual relations between more than two people is also something that society cannot countenance, as it makes a mockery of marriage and the family. I would argue that homosexual relationships in general fall into the same category, for much the same reason.
But how do we respond to this? Well some of it is against the law already. Jones will have his day in court, and, if found guilty will be punished. Those things that offend against normative morality but are not against the law are trickier.
On the one hand, there is the Christian imperative of forgiveness. But on the other hand, those who are unrepentant, while they may be loved, must be shunned. One disassociates oneself from them. One has nothing to do with them. They are treated as if they did not exist, beyond catering to their basic needs, if necessary. Their opinions are not regarded. Their work product is ignored. They are not sought out. They are not entertained. One is not at home to them. They are, effectively, boycotted by right-thinking people.
Let me give you some examples of how this works in my life. Tyson Foods has invested a great deal of money in the political and personal fortunes of the Clintons. I never buy Tyson products. This is a hardship in some respects, since Costco sells its chicken products at a decent savings. But I seek out Purdue.
Rosie O'Donnell is not only an obnoxious liberal, but an open lesbian. I've never watched her television show. I don't buy her magazine. She has a Christmas CD, which I will not buy. Nothing that she says or does holds any interest for me.
There is a shampoo on the market that used to employ tissue from aborted babies. I don't buy it. If it happened to be the only shampoo on a store's shelf, I would go to another store.
Michael Jackson just the other day dangled his son out a fourth-floor window, and has settled a case of pedophilia (and has displayed marked weirdness in many other ways). Am I buying his next album? No, but then I've never bought any of his previous albums. In fact the only contributions I have made to his fortune are purely through ignorance of what he might be invested in.
Charlotte Church made some deeply offensive remarks regarding the United States and our response to September 11th. She has a nice voice, but don't buy me a Charlotte Church CD.
There is a well known openly homosexual blogger/journalist who claims to be Catholic, but spends much of his time bashing the Church's teachings on morality, and browbeating Catholics to accept homosexuality. I notice that several of my prominent collegues here at St. Blog's link to him. Even if I could figure out how to get links onto my site, I certainly would not link to him. I don't even read him.
About twelve years ago, a cousin I had almost no contact with was married (marriage number 4, no annullments, according to an aunt who knew). I was invited. I politely sent her my regrets, and nothing else. Last I ever heard of her.
The cut, the drop, and the shun are social skills that once were understood widely. They were once widely practiced as a societal defense mechanism that discouraged non-normative behavior. When the serial adulterer was met with the cold shoulder by those around him, he used to get the message and kept his pants zipped. When the family slut found her presence was no longer desired, she got married and settled down. When the habitual drunk found that those around him were shunning him, he checked into AA.
Man is a social animal. He does not like to be isolated. Most will do what it takes to regain the good graces of those around them. Even if that means giving up some cherished behaviors (whether snorting Columbian marching powder, cruising Herbie's Ramrod Room, drinking whole towns dry, blowing the weekly paycheck at the casino, touching everything with a skirt on, spreading your legs for every cute guy who happens across you, playing patty-cake in the playground with young children, or looking to get intimate with Bossie) learned self restraint will happen more often than not. Society will be the better for it.
But what of forgiveness, you ask. Michael Jackson said he was sorry. So, probably, did Paul Shanley. Jeffrey Jones probably will say he is sorry and meant no harm. So did John Gielgud many, many years ago, when he was picked up for trying to molest a child. I can forgive even if someone does not say they are sorry. But that does not necessarily lift the ban. It is possible to forgive and not forget.
You can pardon an offender for what he has done to you personally. But notice that all of the offenses for which I shun or boycott have nothing to do with me personally. What is Rosie O'Donnell to me? Or Michael Jackson? I am more likely to meet President Bush in person than these people (actually, much more likely). They have zero impact on my life. If they were part of my life, and did something to offend me personally, I would forgive them. It might not be easy, but I would try.
But for those whose public acts I disapprove of, public acts and private contrition will be the key if they are to lift the ban they are under. If the shampoo-maker says publicly that it was wrong to use aborted babies, stops doing so, and makes annual huge donations to the pro-life cause in atonement, I'll use their product. If Tyson cuts off the Clintons, and starts giving even more to conservative and pro-life causes, I'll buy Tyson. If that blogger/journalist undergoes a genuine conversion, and forsakes his lifestyle and becomes a defender of the Church, I'll start reading him. Heck, just for him, I'd figure out how to get links on my site. My disapprobation is not against him as a human being, or Rosie O'Donnell, as such, or Michael Jackson, as such, or Jeffrey Jones, as such. It is against their acts. Change the acts, and not just personal forgiveness, but approbation comes with it.
For example, look no further than the lady known in 1973 as Roe, of Roe v. Wade, Norma McCorvey (?). She spent the last part of her life working against abortion. Bernard Nathanson was a staunch advocate of abortion (Was he also an abortionist? I've forgotten and don't want to break the flow to look it up.), who underwent conversion, and has become a compelling pro-life speaker. They have personal forgiveness (not that my personal forgiveness means much, since they did nothing to me personally) and my approval, which I think means more. Maybe someday Jeffrey Jones will be one of the leading public spokesmen against child pornography or child molestation. We can all still pray for the conversion of those who offend against society, and forgive those who offend us personally.
National Review On Line today carries Rod Dreher on the media's curious lack of reportage on the murder of a Catholic woman by a homosexual. It sems that the media now report all the news that fits the liberal bias. I guess that is the new definition (or is it so new?) of "all the news that is fit to print." Matthew Shepard, whose only crime was to proposition three guys for perverted sex, is a nationally known martyr. Mary Stachowicz, whose only crime was to ask a homosexual why he slept with men rather than women, elicits the response, "Who?"
Eastern Massachusetts may have a white Thanksgiving. The forecasters are talking about a 2-6 inch accumulation tomorrow. You can bet that the panic shoppers will be out in droves today, especially with the holiday looming. Snow tomorrow also means nasty driving and travel conditions for the millions who are going to Grandmother's house. I'm glad we are having a quiet Thanksgiving at home, with no guests, and that all the shopping is done. And if Mrs. Fitzpatrick gets a snow day, we can get a head start on the pie baking, making for a very relaxed Thanksgiving.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney, who has been assigned the Archdiocese's pervert priest mess, when she denied the Archdiocese's motion to seal personnel files turned over to plaintiffs' lawyers, stated that Cardinal Law's sworn deposition testimony seems to be at odds with facts detailed in the documents. The Cardinal testified that he and his aides used due care in re-assigning priests after allegations were made against them. But the documents show that suspected perverts were re-assigned without much in the way of evaluation or treatment.
The defense counsel may yet face sanctions for the games it has been playing with the discovery process. The Archdiocese may seek some sort of appellate relief. If I were Roderick McLeish, I'd speed it up and get those documents out in public before an appeals court enjoins him from doing so, if his goal is to help his case by making them public. If his goal is to settle quickly, he will dangle the documents in front of the Archdiocese. The Boston Globe has more details here.
If Judge Sweeney is overturned on an interlocutory appeal (rules are bent for the Archdiocese sometimes), and the documents are kept sealed, the Archdiocese will lose its incentive to settle quickly. On the other hand, if the documents are made public, the Archdiocese will lose its incentive to settle at all, except for the fact that it can never take this case to a jury. A jury verdict could be $200-$300 million, just to teach the Archdiocese a lesson. The defense will drag its feet, and perhaps even get to the point, a year or two from now, of empanelling a jury, before settling. The street logic is that the longer they wait to settle, the higher the price tag. But any settlement will be lower than a jury award.
I am still not dismissing a settlement this week, since the Archdiocese seems to think it imperative that the documents not reach the public (let us hope someone in McLeish's office is making copies of it all just in case, as a confidential settlement in this case does not serve the public). The laity need to know the whole picture. As St. Gregory the Great said, if the truth be scandalous, it is better that the truth be known, rather than falsehood be taken as the truth. Or as Robert Graves had the Emperor Claudius say in his cups, "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out."
Daniel Pipes, writing for the New York Post, and available at FrontPage Magazine, thinks that it is Christianity, not Islam, that will have the greatest impact on the 21st century. He bases this on the growth and dynamism inherent in Christianity as practiced in the more orthodox Southern Hemisphere. We in North America often lose sight of what is going on in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Here, the forces of modernism, materialism, hedonism, and liberalism are eroding religious faith, and leading to declining numbers in the pews. But there Christianity thrives.
Thomas Sowell, in his latest column available at TownHall.com, praises historian Joyce Lee Malcolm, who has done much to de-bunk the myths about guns that pervade the media. Her book To Keep And Bear Arms: The Evolution of an Anglo-American Right is required reading for anyone who wants to know the history of the right to own guns. She first came to my notice with a report she did for the National Park Service on land use patterns in the Lexington-Concord Battle Road, The Scene of the Battle. Now in Guns and Violence, she destroys the myth that more gun control means less crime.
May she produce many more excellent works of historical research.
If you plan to give someone a copy of Al Gore's new book for Christmas, you won't have a problem fighting off the hordes of eager buyers. According to Rush, the book has dropped off the Amazon.com list of the 1000 most popular books. It never got higher than the 900 mark, despite non-stop TV appearances by Gore plugging it. It is probably safe to say that the biggest markets for the book have been opposition research for various Democrat potential candidates, and people suffering from a shortage of toilet paper.
Monday, November 25, 2002
The Archdiocese may seek some appellate relief, though discovery orders are not usually appealable. The attorneys who have requested the documents plan on making them public next week. I think we can take from the fact that they are not being released this week the implication that negotiations to settle the litigation, in order to make sure the documents will never be made public, will be pursued at a break-neck pace this week and over the holiday weekend. It remains to be seen if the Archdiocese will be willing to pony up enough cash to silence the plaintiffs' lawyers.
Theo Epstein would be leading the Red Sox to victory year after year. I just listened to his breathless press conference.
I was reminded of the contrast to the roly-poly past-middle age Lou Gorman, who put together the Red Sox team that went to the World Series or playoffs three times in the '80s & '90s. When told that Roger Clemens was purposefully not coming to training camp, and asked what he would do, Gorman shrugged, and said, "The sun will rise. The sun will set. And I will have my lunch."
Given the choice, I would take the substance and sang froid over the jargon and enthusiasm.
The Boston Red Sox are set to announce that Theo Epstein, a 28 year-old from Brookline who grew up in the shadow of Fenway Park, will be the team's next general manager. You know you are getting old when the GMs are 10 years younger than you are.
Sometimes, these youthful appointments make you think of Pitt the Younger, of King David, or of Bonaparte. Sometimes they just remind you of the young chap would just failed to return the Tories to respectablity, of General McClellan, or of the Red Sox' last young GM from the area, Dan Duquette (who threw public temper tantrums at, and ultimately got rid of, superstars like Roger Clemens and Mo Vaughn).
The Boston Red Sox: World Champions, 1918
Michael Ledeen, writing in National Review On Line, reports that Iran is ripe for counter-revolution. Maybe the coming Iraqi campaign will tip the balance. But there is a tide that operates in the affairs of men, and Ledeen is rightly concerned that the US is not taking advantage of the situation, and may have missed its opportunity to kiss the mullahs good-bye forever.
Jim Geraghty, appearing in National Review On Line, is correct in saying that Senator John Forbes Heinz Kerry is the Democrats most formidable candidate for 2004, and that President Bush will be much more hard-put to defeat Kerry than his father was in disposing of Mike Dukakis. Kerry has looks, a Vietnam record, a Clinton-like wild past that appeals to some women voters (though not as unrestrained or as long-lasting as Clinton's) experience in foreign affairs, and loads and loads and loads of inherited money. I am betting that Kerry easily disposes of Al Gore, the only human (?) to contract Dutch Elm Disease. That will put President Bush in a very tough re-election fight. Perhaps even more dangerous, it will set Kerry up for 2008, when the Republicans will be running (?).
According to this story in the Boston Herald, lawyers for the Archdiocese are having a session with plaintiffs' lawyers today in an effort to settle outstanding litigation. While sources think the talks will not bear fruit, I have a different take on the situation.
The lawyers for the Archdiocese have been fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent disclosure of the personnel files of 62 priests. On Friday, the Archdiocese faced a deadline for turning the documents over. The Judge was threatening sacntions against the defense counsel if they were not produced. At first, it looked as if the documents would not be produced, and that the Archdiocese was trying to get the court to rule on its motion to dismiss on 1st Amendment grounds (as errant a piece of knavery as could be imagined) before production.
I was out of the loop for most of the weekend, so missed some of the details. What appears to have happened is that the documents were produced either late on Friday or early Saturday. But a motion was served simultaneously asking the court to seal the documents.
If the judge seals the documents, I predict that the settlement talks will break down very quickly. But if the judge unseals the documents, I think the Archdiocese will be frantic to settle and will agree to almost anything. The objective appears to be to keep these documents from becoming public at all costs (lawyers don't risk Rule 11 sanctions, which can include suspension from the practice of law, unless absolutely necessary).
Why is the Archdiocese fightiing so desperately to keep these documents private? The alleged perverts whose names are on those files are obviously putting pressure on the Archdiocese to keep them so. But more than that appears to be at issue here.
I have mentioned before the RICO implications of this case. The Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is a law passed by Congress in the 1970s to enable law enforcement to more easily crack down on the Italian Mafia. But its terms don't require that those charged under it be actual gangsters machine-gunning rivals or running drugs or strings of prostitutes. Orgainzations that commit mail or wire fraud are subject to prosecution under RICO as well. A pattern of racketeering activity is required. But a pattern conists of only 3 or more instances. And remember, many prosecutions of alleged pervert priests have been blocked by the relevant statute of limitations. Well, if one act that is part of the pattern occurred within the time of the statute of limitations, all the actions in the pattern, even if they took place 40 years ago, are actionable.
It is arguable that the Archdiocese did commit mail fraud in some of the pervert priest cases we know about. It isn't clear-cut, but a clever and ambitious prosecutor could make a case to a grand jury. But perhaps even more worrisome are the civil-RICO implications. Here you don't need a clever and ambitous prosecutor. An aggrieved plaintiff can sue in civil court under RICO for treble damages. We all know that there are plenty of aggrieved plaintiffs out there.
Until now, the Church and uninformed Catholic pundits have laughed off the idea that the Church could be charged under RICO. But one wonders whether the last-ditch defense of the 62 personnel files is motivated by an effort to prevent criminal or civil RICO charges. Is the information in these files damaging enough to show a "pattern of racketeering activity?" Your guess is as good as mine. But I would not bet against it. One can say that an institution does not fight this hard to keep documents private if they have nothing to hide. You don't go to the mat like this just because Paul Shanley, et al. want personnel files kept secret. The information in these files must be cataclysmic to the Archdiocese from a public-relations standpoint, at least.
George Will's column is carried at TownHall.com. His sources foresee Republican control of the Senate for years to come. From his keyboard to God's ears.
St. John's Seminary expelled an openly gay seminarian who was sponsored by the Diocese of Hartford. The Globe has details (warning: the Globe's article is slanted heavily in favor of homosexuality). St. John's Seminary, of course, has had one of the worst records for producing dissenting and homosexual priests over the last 45 years. You will notice that the person removed from St. John's was only removed because he openly attacked Church teaching on homosexuality. He was also not from Boston's pool of potential priests, but Hartford's.
At least the openly and vocally homosexual are being rooted out of the seminary. The closeted ones will require more attention. But the psychological testing done at the seminary ought to be adequate to detect all but the best actors and liars (these should be encouraged to seek a professsion where they are more likely to succeed, like law or government). Perhaps the will to really clean up the seminary is ultimately lacking. Perhaps even the Vatican's coming ban on homosexual seminarians will not even be enough. But at least it is a start.
Salon.com's Paul Caffera's exhaustive look at the possibility of a shoulder-fired missile attack on a US commercial jet is carried in today's FrontPage Magazine.
Under the same heading, Meet The Press spoke to the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee on Sunday. Senator Shelby is convinced that another attack like September 11th is a certainty, and that there is virtually nothing we can do to stop it except become a complete police state, which no one wants.
The BC Eagles beat Temple. The New England Patriots beat Minnesota.
The Moslem fanatics' riot over the Miss World Pageant in Nigeria has now claimed 215 lives. The Globe picks up the AP copy here. What a pointless loss of life!
Sunday, November 24, 2002
Thanksgiving is almost here. We did the bulk of our Thanksgiving shopping today. It seems appropriate, since everyone is gearing up for a gathering of family and friends for the holiday, to provide another installment of this semi-regular feature. Perhaps there are ideas here you may want to use.
Thanksgiving in our house exalts the flavors of early New England. Turkey with dressing and gravy, clam chowder, cranberry sauce, apple sauce, squash with maple sugar, corn bread, apple cider, baskets of nuts, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and mince pie are all on the groaning board every year. We throw in a few staples from other parts of the country and even other cultures like sweet potatoes and pickled watermelon rind from the South, pate de foie gras and brie from France, pepperoni and cheese appetizers (presumably inspired by Italian cuisine) and French or German wines (depending on our mood). When we entertain, which we are not doing this year, we add a few items to the menu, like carrot pudding, Nottingham yam pudding, Harvard beets, onion pie, corn custard, (all solid fare from the British Isles) tomato aspic with horseradish sauce, and shrimp with cocktail sauce (which became popular in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries, respectively). But most of what we eat on Thanksgiving is reminiscent of foods that would have been familiar to the pilgrim fathers.
One may quibble about authenticity here and there, of course. Wild turkey is gamier than our domestic birds. The pilgrims roasted turkeys over spits instead of baking them in an oven as we do. Cranberry sauce probably wasn't so popular then, since the white sugar needed to make the cranberry palatable was expensive. Perhaps they used honey or maple sugar for it, but all sweeteners were both expensive and rare. Pumpkin and squash are of course native to this part of the world. The early English settlers made extensive use of both. But their pumpkin pies were probably less spicy and sweet than ours, again because of the expense of the ingredients.
The early New Englanders did drink a lot of apple cider. Water was not commonly consumed. Neither was milk. Now what we drink is fresh cider, not the stuff you can buy in the juice aisle of the supermarket year round. Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who grew up in Anchorage, had never experienced the joys of fresh cider until I introduced her to it. However, what all ages in colonial America drank was fermented or hard cider. They probably did not drink the sweet cider we drink today. You can still buy hard cider at the liquor store(Woodpecker is an English brand I am very familiar with, as it is a favorite around re-enactors' campfires, if only because it is British), though I don't care much for it or for beer, another favorite of early Americans.
The pilgrims seem to have eaten a lot of onions. On our last visit to Plimouth Plantation, onions and pumpkins were ubiquitous, though apples were nowhere to be seen, since the pilgrims' apple trees were still seedlings in 1629. Onions of course go back to Roman times, and can be served baked, fried, in pies (with cheddar and bacon) cut up in dressing, and probably other ways as well. My favorite is the onion pie. This is a two crust affair that uses three large Spanish onions (Vidalia are wonderful if you are doing this in spring or early summer, but they don't keep for use at Thanksgiving) sliced (I don't fry them in advance, as the raw onions give the pie a more peppery taste), some freshly grated Vermont or English cheddar (you could use parmesan or maybe a little of both) and crumbled bacon (no Bacos, please). Add some black pepper and perhaps some mustard, and you have an authentic onion pie, pretty much as it would have been eaten in colonial America or pre-Industrial Revolution Britain or Ireland.
Mince pie, of course, would not have been indulged in by the pilgrims, because it was associated too strongly with Christmas, which was associated, above all with "popery," but also with rowdy and sometimes bawdy popular merry-making like dicing, gaming, whoring, drinking and feasting to excess. Making mince pie was actually against the law in Massachusetts for part of the 17th century (banned along with dancing, making music on instruments other than the drum, trumpet, or Jew's Harp, and celebrating Christmas and Whitsuntide). But one wonders how much of the ban was caused by puritan religious concerns, and how much by sumptuary concerns (and to what extent the two fed each other). Some time in the 19th century, mince pie made a comeback in New England, but was first moved to Thanksgiving, before becoming acceptable for both Turkey Day and Christmas. Mince pie is one of my favorites. I make my own mince meat each year from apples we pick and shredded sirloin tips. I gave you the world's greatest recipe for mince pie back in September (it is an adaptation of the recipe that appeared in Yankee Magazine's 1976 Colonial Cookbook). Enjoy your mince pie, and think of it as sticking a finger in the eye of anti-Catholicism.
Turkey reigns supreme over the Thanksgiving feast. In my childhood, it also was the fare of choice at Christmas (with ham holding sway at Easter). But two large turkeys so close together is too much for the modern palate. Turkey has remained the ruler of the Thanksgiving table, but other options have supplanted it at Christmas. But if you read the acount of the first Thanksgiving, you would note that turkey was just one of the main attractions. Venison was available as well. But most people today find venison a little too gamy or too tough for their taste.
Eggnog is something we drink at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. The concoction of eggs, cream, milk, sugar, spirits, and spices was popular in the South, but fairly unheard of in New England until the 19th century. For Thanksgiving, we stick to the dairy kind (Puleo's Dairy here in Salem makes a heavenly eggnog; H.P. Hood, New England's largest dairy, makes a very good one also). The eggnog that will leave you either puzzled over your own name, or very merry indeed, we reserve until Christmas. Punch was common in colonial America, but we save that, too, until Christmas time.
Clam Chowder, our soup course for Thanksgiving, would not yet have been on the menu in 1621. The word "chowder" comes from French. The chowders known to the French in Canada were relatively thin affairs, nothing like the rich creamy soups of our own day. The chowder did not enter New England's bill of fare until later in the 17th century, after considerable illicit trade contact with Canada. The colonists took the thin seafood soup of the French, and followed their English penchant for cream and butter, producing what we now know as chowder. Some of the very best chowder comes from Legal Seafoods here in Boston. It is sometimes available through Costco, and on-line (along with lobsters) from Legals. Snow's canned concentrate is a decent chowder and will do in a pinch (just don't dilute it much, add cream, not milk, plenty of butter, and fresh black pepper in abundance; their corn chowder is good, too). Patrick O'Brian, when he was introduced to clam chowder, said that it "must be served every Friday in Heaven." Let us hope that great author has been able to verify that.
Before we close, we must make note of another food tradition that is particular to today. Today, the last Sunday before Advent, is known in the British Isles as "Stir-Up" Sunday. The name comes, not from the culinary requirements of the day, but from the Collect of the traditional Anglican service for this day, which starts, "Stir up, O Lord." Well Stir-Up Sunday is the time for starting Christmas cakes (fruitcakes) if they are to cure properly by Christmas. I know I just blogged the other day about allowing Thanksgiving to be Thanksgiving, and not turning it into a weak imitation of Christmas, but some things do have to be done ahead of time (like shopping for gifts that will have to be shipped to Alaska).
Fruitcakes are, regrettably, not as popular as they once were. Mrs. Fitzpatrick will have nothing to do with them. My father-in-law detests store-bought fruitcakes. So pronounced is his horror of them that every year we barnstorm through the stores looking for a fruitcake-theme gift for him. A couple of years ago, it was a doormat with the legend, "Friends don't give friends fruitcake." Part of the problem, of course, is that some people don't make them correctly. They don't cure them properly. Which means, they don't start them early enough (this week).
The recipe that follows is a modified version of Martha Washington's recipe for what she called "Great Cake," or her cake for great occasions. Her recipe calls for taking forty eggs, separating them, and beating the whites to a froth with a bundle of sticks. Well, eggs were smaller then. And the bundle of sticks has long given way to the electric mixer. Thank Heavens!
If you want to try it, read the recipe through first, so that you will be sure to have everything you need.
1 pound raisins
11 oz. currants
1 cup candied orange peel
1 cup candied lemon peel
1 cup citron
1 cup of candied red cherries
1 cup of candied green cherries
good brandy (warning: this is not a recipe for those recovering from a drinking problem)
Put all the fruit into a large bowl, and cover it with the brandy. Cover the bowl, and let the fruit soak in the brandy for a couple of days.
41/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 sticks of butter softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
10 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup of cream sherry
the remainder of the bottle of cream sherry (I use Savory & James)
Once the fruit has soaked for at least 36 hours, sift together the flour and spices, and set it aside.
Work the butter until it is creamy, then add one cup of sugar a little at a time. Beat it until it is smooth.
Beat the egg yolks until they are thick and light, then add 1 cup of sugar to the yolks. Add the lemon juice to the yolks after the sugar is added. Combine the yolk mixture with the butter-sugar mixture. Add the rest of the sugar.
Add the flour/spices and 1/3 cup sherry both little by little and alternating with each other.
Once all the flour/spices and the 1/3 cup of sherry have been added to the egg yolk/butter/sugar mixture, drain the fruit (I've never tried to drink the brandy, but I don't suppose it would do much harm), and add it also.
Now beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Fold the egg whites into the batter.
Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan (don't forget to grease the tube itself). Pour the batter into the pan. Put a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven, and pre-heat to 350 degrees. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another hour and forty minutes. The cake is done when a knife inserted in it comes out clean.
Turn the cake out gently, and let it cool on a rack. Soak lots of cheese cloth in the rest of the sherry. Wrap the cake in the sherry-soaked cheese cloth, then put it in an airtight Rubbermaid (or other airtight plastic cake container) for three weeks. Each week, check the cheese cloth to see if it is still moist. If it has dried out, soak it in more cream sherry, and re-apply. The longer the cake cures, the better. The Christmas Cake we will using this year was made two Christmases ago. All the sugar, spice, and booze in the mix makes it almost as everlasting as the Twinkie, except it improves with age, unlike the Hostess Twinkie.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving!
Over at Ad Orientem, Mark Sullivan has compiled a nice compendium on Archbishop Philip Hannan, the only US bishop I am aware of who publicly questioned the bishops' letter on the coming Iraqi campaign.