Saturday, January 04, 2003

Why Are There No Men At Church?
Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings has a great essay up on why there are so few men at church on Sunday. I did not grow up in a parish like that. The men and women seemed fairly evenly divided, and there were lots of young people (no "youth ministry" but the parish has a flourishing school, and is an affluent area). But at my current parish, it is as if no men under 65 ever heard about obligatory Mass attendence. At first I ascribed it to the effects of more than one pervert priest causing havoc in the parish, and turning off men to Mass attendence altogether. But what Dale says about the feminization of the liturgy rings true. Dale's is not the whole answer, but, I think he has identified a very significant part of the problem.

The problem, as it is all over the "counter-reform" agenda, is what do we do about it in the face of entrenched people, including priests and bishops, who violently disagree. How do we take back our Church?

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
Our first American-born saint was born in New York in 1774, part of a well-off Episcopalian family. She was married, and did much work for the poor. Her husband's finances and health both broke early in the 19th century. On a trip to Italy, he died, and Elizabeth Ann Seton began her journey to the Catholic Church. She opened a boarding school for boys in New York, and a school for girls in Baltimore. She adopted religious habit, and after others joined her, founded the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph. When she died in 1821, the Sisters of Charity had 20 houses in North America. She was canonized in 1975.

The Holy Name
The feast of the Holy Name has moved all over early January. Different orders and different countries seem to have celebrated it on different days. I have seen it listed as the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 14th, and 15th. But it is often celebrated on January 4th. The Fourth is described as the Feast of the Holy Name by Father Englebert, whose Lives of the Saints I use. So at Verus Ratio, January 4th is the Feast of the Holy Name. As a useful prayer exercise, try to spend 5 minutes today reciting the Holy Name.

Here is a litany of the Holy Name. You could also just recite the "Jesus Prayer" (repeating, "Jesus") today.

T.S. Eliot
On this date 37 years ago, T.S. Eliot died. Russell Kirk was not wrong when he called the literary period 1920-1960 The Age of Eliot. I blogged an appreciation of Eliot on his birthday.

Mark Shea Has It Right
Catholic and Enjoying It! blogger Mark Shea has a great short essay at Catholic Exchange on why we should not just bring Christmas to a sudden halt on December 26th. He is saying the same thing I have been since Christmas Day. Listen to him, enjoy the miracle of Christ's Incarnation through Epiphany (Monday, though the Church celebrates it on the closest Sunday, tomorrow).

British Troops Headed To Persian Gulf
Fox News is reporting that between 20,000 and 30,000 British troops (that troop level probably includes Royal Navy and RAF personnel, and is not all army) will begin moving to the Persian Gulf this week. The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and a nuclear sub will be part of the British force in the region. The UK currently has no troops deployed there, other than RAF units in Saudi Arabia enforcing the no-fly zones. Up to 7,000 reservists may be called up this week. Most of the troops will come from the British Army of the Rhine, where the bulk of Britain's armoured forces are garrisoned. It will take about a month for the UK to move the troops and their equipment there. Again late February seems to be a likely date for the beginning of this next campaign.

God bless our British allies!

Raelian Kooks Now Won't Allow Independent Verification of "Cloned Baby"
Told you it was a publicity stunt.

The Eleventh Day of Christmas
There has always been some debate on the subject of the proper lyrics for the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. After verse 8, there is wide variation as to what was given on each day. Despite the "authoritative" reading of the Oxford Book of Carols, I have always favored the "Eleven lords a-leaping" today for its alliterative effect. If 11 is supposed to refer to the 11 faithful apostles, then "lords" is a more appropriate association than the other options.

Christmas is slipping away fast, now. Enjoy it while you can.

Happy Eleventh Day of Christmas!

Friday, January 03, 2003

Mississippi Bishop's Resignation Accepted
The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Bishop William Houck of Jackson, Mississippi, who turned 75 two years ago. The Jackson Diocese was recently sued by three brothers alleging negligent supervision of a priest (they claim they were abused by him) back in the early 1970s, when now-Cardinal Bernard Law was Vicar General of the Diocese.

Literary Milestones
I was remiss yesterday in not noting the third anniversary of the death of Patrick O'Brian, the creator of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. However, I blogged about O'Brian less than a month ago, on his birthday.

Today would be the 111th birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of the Lord of the Rings. Amy Welborn points out that this would be Tolkien's "eleventy-first birthday," and offers the link to the Tolkien Society.

Marxist Historian: Contradiction In Terms
FrontPage Magazine carries a piece David Pryce-Jones originally wrote for the New Criterion panning the career of Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm.

Hobsbawm was never subtle in his method. As a college sophmore, twenty years ago, I took a two-semester Medieval Europe course under the redoubtable (and New Deal Democrat) Professor William Daly with a long introduction into the decline of the Roman Empire. We had to read a compilation of essays from various historians on the topic. Theories for the decline of the Empire included everything from Gibbons' chestnut about the enervating influence of Christianity to lead poisoning.

But Professor Daly asked about the perspective of one essay, by an historian whose name I was then unfamiliar with (Hobsbawm). Daly wanted someone to categorize the reasoning. It seemed to be exclusively about economics, which seemed to me, after reading about the Great Depression the year before, a rather unconvincing reason for the collapse of an entire civilization. I had read somewhere, perhaps in the European History survey I took in my freshman year, that Marxist historians dealt almost exclusively with economics as causation for human events. Despite the fact that I was anxious about being wrong, and that labelling something "Marxist" might label me as "the conservative," especially if I got it wrong, I answered the question, and was right. I was probably the only one in the class who kept up with the readings.

If a callow 19 year-old could peg Hobsbawm so easily, Pryce-Jones is overqualified for the task:

The purpose of all Hobsbawm’s writing, indeed of his life, has been to certify the inevitable triumph of Communism. In the face of whatever might actually have been happening in the Soviet Union and its satellites, he devised reasons to justify or excuse the Communist Party right to its end—long after Russians themselves had realized that Communism had ruined morally and materially everybody and everything within its reach. He loves to describe himself as a professional historian, but someone who has steadily corrupted knowledge into propaganda, and scorns the concept of objective truth, is nothing of the kind, neither a historian nor professional.

It becomes quite a good joke that Communism collapsed under him, proving in the living world that the beliefs and ideas in his head were empty illusions, and all the Marxist and Soviet rhetoric just claptrap.

Even more telling about this moral nightmare of a man:

Not long ago, on a popular television show, Hobsbawm explained that the fact of Soviet mass-murdering made no difference to his Communist commitment. In astonishment, his interviewer asked, “What that comes down to is saying that had the radiant tomorrow actually been created, the loss of fifteen, twenty million people might have been justified?” Without hesitation Hobsbawm replied, “Yes.”

Professor Daly, by the way, became a friend, and my faculty advisor. Though he started as a New Deal Democrat, the Democrat Party left him, especially in the 1960s, and especially with regard to communism. By the 1980s, and about ready to retire, Daly was quietly backing Ronald Reagan's administration, at least on foreign policy. Professor Daly, his office neighbor Doctor Samuel Miller (whose 1940s work on talks between the Anglicans and the Catholic Church in the 1920s was recently panned in a long article in The New Oxford Review) and I gathered for tea on many a Wednesday afternoon for the next three years. I listened to many interesting anecdotes about Daly's experience as a B-17 crewman and as a German prisoner of war. I also learned from him the right way to do history: dig back to the original sources in the language they were written in and give them a straightforward and honest interpretation. Try to keep the grinding of idealogical axes out of the work.

It is a shame that so much of modern history is now written from a political, racial, ethnic, or gender perspective. Hobsbawm was a prominent forerunner, and I fear hero, to many of this warped school in the research and writing of history. Bill ("D-Minus") Daly, since he didn't publish much, is unknown beyond those few Boston College students who were wise enough to take his courses on Medieval Europe. While, in England, an unscrupulous communist zealot is rolling in it and poisoning the minds of generations of students.

I did, through a Google search, come across this reference to an article Daly wrote in 1987:

Daly, William D., `Christianitas Eclipses Romanitas in the Life of Sidonius Apollinaris,' in Religion, Culture and Society in the Early Middle Ages, ed. T. F. X. Noble and J. J. Contreni (1987), 7-26 .

The Greatness of Ronald Reagan
Richard Rahn, whose column appears in today's Washington Times, discusses Peter Wallison's new book, Ronald Reagan. Looks like a good read, perhaps in union with Peggy Noonan's When Character Was King, Peter Swietzer's Reagan's War, and the Andersons' compilation of Reagan's notes for his radio commentaries, Reagan In His Own Hand. Ronaldus Magnus has a birthday coming up next month.

Dubai Charges Raped Frenchwoman With Adultery (For Being Raped)
Ahh, "Islamic justice" at work again. She accused three men of gang-raping her. One of the men said that the sex was consensual. So the woman is automatically charged with adultery (she is divorced) and making a false rape allegation.

After we clean out Iraq, let us fervently hope that the backwardness of much of the Islamic world will be swept away in a wave of liberalization caused by our example and the example of the states we will have set up in Afghanistan and Iraq. The people of the Islamic countries have just as much potential for becoming prosperous democracies as anybody else. What is holding them back is their willingness to put up with relics from the Stone Age dictating religious and civil behaviour.

Westfield, Mass School Persecutes Christian Students For Distributing Candy Canes
The effort to root Christianity out of American public culture continues, as Westfield High School attempts to suspend students who gave out candy canes with descriptions of the significance of the candy cane, and a prayer and Bible verse. Is the rule that the students are accused of breaking truly neutral, or is it just a convenient method of excising Christianity from school grounds.

Would the students have been in trouble for singing vile rap songs and passing out copies of the lyrics to friends? I doubt it.

Sir Robert Hutchinson On Vegetarianism
Sir Robert Hutchinson was a 19th century English physician. Jeffrey Kacirk of Forgotten English fame quotes him thus on the subject of vegetarianism:

"[It] is harmless enough, although it is apt to fill a man with wind and self-righteousness."

How true.

The Tenth Day of Christmas
A ferial day. Verus Ratio is still in semi-holiday mode. We have a snowstorm bearing down on us, and plan to host our last Christmas parties for 2002-2003 this weekend.

I may blog a little today and over the weekend. But allow me to advert your attention to some interesting tidbits that I happened to see around Saint Blog's.

Mark Sullivan at Ad Orientem has assembled and juxtaposed some interesting quotations on fan reactions on seeing Frank Sinatra (in the 1940s) and the Beatles in the 1960s and on how seeing the Holy Father in person similarly influences some people. A very interesting phenomonon, indeed.

Mark Shea at Catholic and Enjoying It!says Kwanzaa is ridiculous, and opens the floor to discussion on that topic.

At Apologia, William Luse reviews a few new blogs.

And over at Bettnet, fellow Salemite and cigar lover Domenico Bettinelli makes a neat point about "Choose Life" license plates.

As for me, I like my Christmas to last a few days longer than anyone else's. Anything I blog between now and Monday, barring major new developments that require analysis, will most likely be links with a little commentary. Large-scale original content will resume Monday, though I currently have no major topics in mind.

Happy Tenth Day of Christmas!

The whole of the Third Infantry Division is being mobilized and prepared for service in the Persian Gulf. This is a sure sign that armed conflict with Iraq is likely by late February. God bless and protect the members of our armed forces.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

2003, By the Numbers
A quick perusal of the 2003 calendar shows us some interesting things. Lent starts relatively late this year. Ash Wednesday is March 5th (so my Saint Patrick's Day respite from my Lenten abstinences won't seem like so much of a relief, since it will come only 12 days in). This means that the heart of winter will have passed before Lent starts. Saint Valentine's Day is a Friday, and Saint Patrick's Day a Monday. Easter is April 20th, which makes Easter Monday also Patriots' Day (anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, a state holiday in Massachusetts; originally April 19th, but moved to the third Monday of April). Saint George's Day falls on a Wednesday, Saint Andrew's on a Sunday, and Saint David's Day on a Saturday (for those planning mess dinners).

Independence Day is a Friday this year. Halloween also falls on a Friday this year. That means any good weather that evening will bring record crowds of revellers to Salem. Thanksgiving is November 27th (which is about average). Advent starts on November 30th (the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, as it most often is). Christmas Day falls on a Thursday, meaning that the later part of Christmas week will be a write-off in terms of getting work done (somewhat less disruptive to work schedules than this past year, when Christmas Day fell on a Wednesday). Advent will be one day longer this year than last.

On the Bright Side
It is snowing here today, and the snow is mixed with sleet. But the days are getting longer, and we will gradually see more daylight until June. We already have 5 more minutes of daylight each day than we had around the twentieth of December. In only three months, we should see forsythia and daffodils.

In my childhood, it was the custom of my home parish that all of the priests (we had 4-6, then) would stand outside the church in decent weather to greet parishioners as they came in. A retired priest who helped out at the parish once remarked on a February Saturday before 4:00 Mass that he was optimistic, because every week that he had been standing there, he noted that the sun was a little higher relative to the line of the church roof. We will begin to notice things like that soon.

Saint Macarius the Younger
Saint Macarius, who the Church celebrates today, was a pastry-maker who turned hermit at the age of 40, and lived to nearly 100. He became leader of many men leading the eremetic life in the 4th century Egyptian desert. He long had difficulty with an Arian Patriarch of Alexandria. He is the patron of pastry chefs and confectioners.

Massachusetts Gets A New Governor Today
Mitt Romney will be sworn in today as the next Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

He inherits an out-of-control budget deficit caused by the sluggish national economy and amazingly rosy-scenario budget projections over the last three years, and an equally out-of-control public works project, known as the Big Dig, the effort to run a multi-lane highway underground through downtown Boston, and then dismantle the existing elevated highway so that the City of Boston and others can develop the property it sits on. Bechtel, the primary contractor, has for all intents and purposes controlled the Dukakis, Weld, Cellucci, and Swift Administrations. Whatever has been required to get Bechtel more money, often in the form of overruns, has been the motivating passion of Massachusetts government for more than a decade.

With the deficit ballooning, despite Acting Governor Swift's pledge to hand her successor a balanced budget, pressure for tax increases exists. This Romney must resist. Cut public sector spending to the bone, even amputate a limb or two. But leave the overburdened Massachusetts taxpayer and employer alone.

One hallmark of the last twelve years of Republican governors has been their consistent appointment of liberal Democrats to office and to the bench. One wasn't terribly surprised last fall to find that the New Jersey Supreme Court justices were, all but two, appointed by Governor Whitman, and that all but one were Democrats. The same situation prevails here. One judge whose bullying behaviour and inappropriately light sentences to sex offenders are currently being examined is married to the publisher of Boston's "alternative" newspaper, the Phoenix, whose primary content is ads for escorts ad other sex services. She was appointed by Dukakis, but promoted by Governor Weld.

Former Democrats whose primary idealogical fixation is jobs on the public payroll for themselves and their friends and family have been running most of state government under the theoretically Republican administrations of Weld, Cellucci, and Swift. The few genuine Republicans who have managed to get appointed to positions in the last twelve years are way to the left of the Republican Party, even here in Massachusetts. They have made promoting abortion and "gay rights" and anything else on the feminist/socialist agenda their priority. Sadly Massachusetts' voters have tolerated this, as long as taxes have not been raised, and the governor talks about being tough on crime.

Governor Romney has a big job ahead in bringing state spending under control, in getting more employers to locate here, in curbing the hack-o-rama of state government. He campaigned slightly to the right of the last three Republican governors on social issues, but sotto voce. He may be a Mormon, but he is no Orrin Hatch on social issues. I fear that his father, the late liberal Republican Governor of Michigan (?), George Romney, is more of a model than Hatch. If he accomplishes anything in the social issues, it will only be the result of a lot of prayer.

We offer our prayers for more enlightened leadership from the Corner Office, and more success for Massachusetts. God speed, Governor Romney.

Getting Things Straight
Ann Coulter, in a column carried at TownHall.com, uses the opportunity of New Year's to catch up with her many detractors, and mis-attributers.

The Ninth Day of Christmas
I hope all had a pleasant New Year's Day/Solemnity of Mary/World Peace Day/Circumcision of the Lord/Octave of Christmas. The Church seems to be all at sea about what it is celebrating on January 1st.

The ninth day of Christmas is a ferial day. Most people are back to work, though many members of the the leisure class junior division (aka: students), and their teachers, have until Monday. Our nephew at university does not go back until the 20th!

Because January 5th falls on a Sunday this year, the Catholic Church is closer than usual to celebrating Epiphany on its proper day (January 6th).

A quiet sense of celebration should continue. Christmas will continue to prevail in the Fitzpatrick household through Twelfth Night, which this year is Sunday night. Christmas music continues to be played here, though the emphasis has long shifted away from Bing Crosby and Perry Como to the Boston Camerata, the Revels, and other CDs that emphasize the religious aspects of Christmas. Candles are burned nightly. The decorations and creches are still up. Special meals are still on the agenda, even if some are leftovers. Family time and entertainment predominate. The Twelfth Cake is yet to be consumed.

Happy Ninth Day of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

The Seventh Day of Christmas
As tonight is New Year's Eve, there will be much festivity, though the connection between New Year and Christmas grows weaker. New Year is a minor holiday in and of itself. We put new calendars on the walls. So what? But as part of an ongoing celebration of Christmas, New Year's has value. The giving of Christmas presents was historically more connected with January 1st than with December 25th. Luck visits like wassailing are also New Year's customs. Open houses on New Year's Day were more common in early America than Christmas parties.

Our family has its own customs associated with New Year's. Thirteen years ago this morning, after attending Mass with my mother and telling her on the way home that he didn't think he would be around much in the new year, my father suddenly collapsed and died while breaking up ice on the porch of an elderly neighbor. That year, we spent New Year's Day taking down Christmas decorations, meeting with undertakers, etc. I had planned that year to attend First Night in Boston for the first time with some law school chums. Since then, I haven't been particularly open to partying on New Year's Eve. I never have been to First Night.

Our alternative tradition is a quiet evening at home, after attending 4:00 Mass at St. John the Baptist Polish church around the corner (to see their very good Christmas decorations; much more elaborate than our own parish's). Our traditional New Year's Eve meal is nachos no later than 8:00, with a platter of chocolates set out at 11:00 or so to accompany the champagne (sometimes mixed with Chambord) we use to toast the new year. To brighten the spirit on this rather somber anniversary, the VCR is pressed into service for a comedy marathon. This year, it will be Blackadder. Last year, I think, it was Jeeves & Wooster.
New Year's Day has an Italian flair. We traditionally have lasagna and meatballs, with a ricotta pie or spumoni roll for dessert.

On behalf of Mrs. Fitzpatrick, and Gaspar the Wonder Cat, I would like to wish all of Verus Ratio's readers a safe, prosperous, and happy New Year, in which many blessings are bestowed upon you by the Lord.

Happy New Year!
Happy Seventh Day of Christmas!

Monday, December 30, 2002

The Number of Potential Terrorists Who May Have Slipped Over the Border Stands At 19
There are names and birthdates for some of these guys, but they may be fictitious. Pictures are available for some. They are believed to be scattered over several US cities.

Guns and Bombs Found In Trunk of French Airport Worker
Fox News reports that a 27 year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin has been arrested after guns and plastic explosives were found in the trunk of his car. This guy, as a baggage handler, had access to some restricted areas of Charles de Gaulle Airport. This arrest comes shortly after what French authorities hope was the complete disruption of a joint al Qaeda/Chechen rebel plot to target the Russian embassy in Paris, and Russians living in Chechnya. Nine are under arrest in that plot.

Need A Catholic Calendar For 2003?
Try this one from the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. It features the stained glass of Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. And it is only $10.00 including postage. They also have a new CD of chant for Advent available.

Will Ian McKellen Replace Richard Harris As Dumbledore?
The rumor has been floating around for a while. With the death of the distinguished Richard Harris, Ian McKellen, who has done a nice job in a similar role as Gandalf, seems the logical replacement for him in the remaining movies of the Harry Potter series. Peter O'Toole could do it well, also.

Are Five More Terrorists Loose in the US?
The FBI thinks five Pakistani men slipped over the US-Canada around Christmas Eve, and may be planning some sort of terrorist attack. Maybe they are just illegal aliens, but with what has happened, and what may happen, we can't take that chance anymore.

British Channel 4 TV is going to broadcast a program in which a Chinese "performance artist" will eat the flesh of a stillborn human baby and drink wine in which an amputated penis has been marinated. (Thanks to Matt Drudge for the link.)

But the Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, said: "Jesus Christ said suffer the little ones to come unto me, not that they should be eaten for public entertainment. This programme sounds hideous."

Yes, I know my headline shouts, but if this isn't worth an angry shout, what is?

Protests Against Bishop McCormack Stepped Up
And justly so. If Law was guilty enough to step down, how about the man who knew all the secrets of the Archdiocese for more than ten years, with a track record of protecting perverts both formally and informally from the 1960s until this year? How much more culpable McCormack is than Law. Based on the information available to us today, if I had to finger a central character in the Boston-area Lavender Mafia, Bishop John McCormack would be it.

Wow! Lord Bless Both Mother and Child

Well Worth Reading
Fellow Salemite and cigar lover Domenico Bettinelli has posted an excellent defense of the Catholic and Christian basis of The Lord of the Rings.

Lest We Forget
Michael Chapman's article remembering the 25-30 million Russians murdered by Lenin, Stalin and their agents in the Soviet Union, orginally written for The Remnant, is available at FrontPage Magazine today. Martyred, all, by the Bolsheviks.

Requiescat In Pace: 2002
This is a list of some noteworthy people who died this year.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother
Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret
Leo McKern ("Horace Rumpole")
John Thaw ("Inspector Morse")
Dudley Moore (10, Bedazzled, Arthur)
Billy Wilder
Ann Landers
Waylon Jennings
James Coburn
Chuck Jones (animator for Warner Brothers and Charlie Brown cartoons)
Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy's)
Howard K. Smith
Spike Milligan
Milton Berle
Peggy Lee
Robert Urich (Spencer For Hire, Vegas, April Morning)
Thor Heyerdahl
Sam Snead
Bill Blass
Johnny Unitas
Ted Williams
John Agar, western actor
Rosemary Clooney
John Frankenheimer
Rod Steiger
Hoyt Wilhelm
Kim Hunter
James Gregory ("Inspector Lugar" of Barney Miller)
Ray Coniff
Senator Paul Wellstone
Richard Harris
Jonathan Harris ("Dr. Smith" of Lost in Space)
Abba Eban
Roone Arledge, ABC TV executive
Phillip Berrigan, pacifist agitator

Requiescat in pace.

Always Highly Recommended
Victor Davis Hanson on the Iraq endgame, at National Review On Line. As a New Year gift, let me suggest reading Victor Davis Hanson on any topic, in whatever format or medium his work appears. I read An Autumn of War this fall, and read most of its essays as they appeared in National Review. Hanson is clear-sighted about present realities, and a distinguished classical scholar to boot.

American Missionary Doctors Murdered In Yemen
Three American medical doctors working at a Southern Baptist missionary hospital in Yemen were murdered by a Moslem extremist. An American pharmacist was seriously wounded.

We haven't put anything into the "Religion of Peace File" in a while. Not because deadly attacks on Christians and Jews have not been taking place at various points where Islam comes into contact with Christendom, but just because I thought we needed something a little lighter during our Christmas festivities. Now that we are at the midway point of Christmas, we can focus on the threat we all face a little more.

The Associated Press has put together a list of attacks on American missionaries.

You May Have Missed This
Just before Christmas, outgoing Alaska Senator Republican Frank Murkowski, just elected governor of Alaska, has appointed his daughter to fill his Senate seat for 2 years. Lisa Murkowski, the Majority Leader of the Alaska House, is described as a "maverick" Republican whose votes on pro-life issues are not reliable. Thanks a lot, Frank.

Patriots Fail To Make Playoffs
For some reason, this year's team just wasn't up to the standards of play of last year's Super Bowl Championship team. They couldn't even qualify for the playoffs in a system where any team with a decent record gets a shot. At least the Patriots gave New Englanders more thrills in 2002 than the always luckless Red Sox, the bargain basement teams put on the ice by the Bruins (talk about a team needing very rich new owners), or the dog-ass Celtics, in the 13th year of their post-Bird/Parrish/McHale/Ainge/Johnson rebuilding process.

I Haven't Weighed In On the Cloning Issue
The reason is that I am convinced that these flakes, in fact, did not pull it off, and that they are practising upon us all to gain publicity for their cult. I also don't think the Italian doctor who has been getting so much publicity in Drudge is on the level, either.

That said, this playing with human life is morally unacceptable. The cloning of human life for either scientific research or reproduction should be banned by each state, the United States, each foreign country, and by international treaty, with long jail sentences for any transgression. That should be high on the agenda of Congress in 2003, along with a ban on partial-birth abortions. And it should be done carefully by Congress and the President, so that the courts have no valid grounds to interfere.

WFB: We've Never Had it So Good
William F. Buckley, Jr.'s column today, carried at TownHall.com, looks at some data compiled by the CATO Institute, which tell us that the human condition is improving markedly in various ways. Good news for the coming new year.

Of course longer life spans, less disease, more wealth are good things. But true improvement and progress come in greater faith, knowledge, and wisdom, which, I fear are on the decline. True progress is an increase in virtue. But these figures are things to be happy about, anyway.

Six Geese A-Laying

The Sixth Day of Christmas
I have long thought that the twelve days of Christmas ought to be observed and counted off with the aid of a candle ceremony, rather like the Jewish people do with Chanukkah. The colors of the candles would vary with the feast being celebrated that day (obviously, St. Stephen would get a red candle as a martyr, etc.). Appropriate prayers would accompany the lighting of each candle. A kit with the candles, some sort of holder, suggested prayers, suggested menus, activities and family games, and songs for each day of Christmas could be developed. Its adoption would be one way of bringing the twelve days into more general observation by Christians.

The problem comes from the post-Vatican II American Church's moving of Epiphany to the Sunday after New Year's and The Feast of the Holy Family on what used to be known as the Sunday During the Octave of Christmas. This would mean that the kit might have to change every year, or we just ignore inconveniences like this, and strive for a more universal system of observing the twelve days, based more on traditional dates than on the vagaries of the American Church of the late twentieth century.

The form of the holder is open to discussion. We do a simple circular pattern with the Advent wreath. The Jewish people use a row form in their menorahs. I think perhaps pillar candles of varying heights arranged on a large round silver tray with Christmas greens at the base might work. Perhaps the twelve pillars could be arranged in something of a spiral pattern, starting in the center with a tall white pillar on Christmas Day, and spiralling out to the rim.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

The Fifth Day of Christmas
The Feast of the Holy Family happened to be the Fifth Day of Christmas this year. As such, it was given over to games, entertainment, Alaska Sausage Company reindeer sausage (yummy), pfeffernusse, eggnog, and family time in the Fitzpatrick family.

We saw the Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers yesterday, and it got a hearty two thumbs up from each of us.

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