Saturday, July 05, 2003

Even Chronic Pain Diminishes When You Feel You Are Advancing the Cause of Civilization An Inch Or Two
Another reason to like John Derbyshire's writing over at National Review On Line.

The Funny Part Is At the End
Take the Emode IQ test. When you are done, it will calculate a score for you, and place you in a category.

The categories Mrs. F. and I were placed in were howlers. I'm supposed to be a "Visual Mathematician," despite the fact that any math skills I learned have long since faded, and I was never in the elite at school in math or science (I got a very generously graded C in Chemistry, and averaged Bs in Algebra, Algebra II & Trig, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus, as well as college Calculus).

Mrs. F., who received the same 136 score I did, was called a "Visionary Philosopher," when she only answered two questions differently from the way I did. She at least was compared to Plato.

Chechen Murder/Suicide Bombers Kill At Leat 13 At Moscow Rock Festival
The Chechen situation is one where we should be making common cause with the Russians. Al Qaeda is heavily involved in aiding the Chechens. Cooperation in exterminating al Qaeda is in our mutual interest.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. F.!
Today is my lovely wife's birthday, so I would just like to give her all my love today (and everyday). We were born 11 days apart, on opposite sides of the continent.

Latest Boston Pervert Priest Litigation Moratorium Passes Without Action, So Plaintiffs To Press For Early Trial Date
It appears that the Archdiocese did not even manage to make any sort of offer to settle during the additional 30 days granted by Judge Sweeney. Look for the judge to bang heads Tuesday when she confers with counsel, and allow expedited discovery and an early trial date.

If you will recall, I said that the 30 days she granted would pass without significant movement. And it is not all just the uncertainty created by the appointment of Archbishop-designate O'Malley. It is a refusal on the part of the insurance companies to bear their own share of the burden and be willing to part with the cash that will be needed to settle.

Whatever the Archdiocese did, it also paid insurance premiums in the expectation that, should catastrophic litigation like this arise, it would be covered. I don't recall the insurance companies, which have paid settlements before, secretly, to some of the same plaintiffs' lawyers for earlier pervert priest cases disclaiming an obligation to honor their part of the contract. Now it is inconvenient for them to honor their contract because of the potential size of the liability. So they are trying to weasel out of it, and are dragging their feet to an degree that is very harmful to the interests of the Archdiocese, with which they are in privity.

Last year, one of Boston's most prestigious law firms conducted an independent review of the insurance coverage available to the Archdiocese to settle these claims. It found that about $90 million in coverage is available, and that the liability carriers had no substantial basis for refusing to participate in the settlement. However, the Archdiocese has been very reluctant to sue the insurers, or implead them as third-party defendants (a seperate trial on the interpretation of the insurance comtracts and whether the actions of the Archdiocese absolve the insurance companies from liability would need to to held).

A good indication that the Archdiocese is covered by the insurance contracts is that the Commonwealth has not brought criminal charges against the Archdiocese or its management personnel. The insurance companies are claiming that, in shuffling pervert priests around, the Archdiocese acted illegally, and that series of illegal acts absolves them from liability under the insurance contracts. But that is a hard (but not impossible) case to make when the Commonwealth has not prosecuted. The insurance companies are hoping to walk away from this on the evidence of grand jury indictments and plea deals. That, plus the natural inclination to prefer to pay even a little more six-months-to-a-year down the road than a somewhat smaller amount now have been the causes of delay.

So AG Tom Reilly's not indicting the Archdiocese or anyone in its top management is helping the Archdiocese get the insurance companies to pay most of the settlement. However, the lingering process gives the insurers reason to delay in hopes of a stroke of luck.

Delay is, of course, the natural ally of the defense in all litigation. Delay long enough and some percentage of plaintiffs just die, suffer debilitating injuries that preclude their testifying, are proven to be frauds, or get disgusted and walk away from the process. Memories grow more clouded. Testimony of past events becomes of lesser and lesser value.

But delay is the enemy of the interests of the Archdiocese. The longer this litigation lingers, the longer the open wound festers. The worse the public perception of the Archdiocese gets. No matter that the insurance companies are causing the delay, not the Archdiocese. The insurers are not named in the lawsuit. The Archdiocese is, and is the one standing out in front taking the rotten tomatoes, brickbats, slings, and arrows (of course they deserve to take some rotten tomatoes, brickbats, slings, and arrows).

But we have reached a real division of interests between the client, the Archdiocese, and the insurance carriers, who are calling the shots in the litigation, since they are paying for most of the lawyers. The Archdiocese needs a quick and just settlement. The insurers

I do want the Archdiocese to learn a lesson its future leadership and staff will never forget.

I also want to see the victims justly compensated for their suffering.

But I don't want the bringing of the Gospel and Sacraments by the Church in Boston to the people of Eastern Massachusetts disrupted or curtailed to any appreciable extent. The goal can never be to cripple or destroy the Church. The best remedy I can see is to make the Archdiocese contribute to a settlement, but to make the insurance carriers shoulder most of the burden (70-80%), as they are obliged to do under contract anyway.

To get that, the grand jury investigation needs to be brought to a very speedy conclusion without indicting the Archdiocese or any of its top personnel. By all means, the grand jury can justly criticize the conduct of the Archdiocese, and that of Cardinals Cushing, Medieros, and Law, as well as Bishops Daily, McCormack, and Banks. But it must be clear that the Archdiocese, while it may have acted in a morally reprehensible manner by retaining in active priesthood known perverts, did not break the laws as they then existed in doing so. That will largely deprive the insurers of the hope of weaseling out of the contract, under which they currently are operating.

And then, under the leadership of someone who looks like he will do a great job as Archbishop of Boston, we can get back to "normal," and just fight about whether to kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer or whether to add strophes to the Agnus Dei, or whether there should be more Latin Masses around here.

Friday, July 04, 2003

July 4th Festivities In Salem
We attended a concert and fireworks show down on Derby Wharf this evening. The concert had as its theme, "A Salute To Our Armed Forces." The featured guest (emcee) for the concert was a local man who just returned from active duty in Kuwait and Iraq.

Some of the selections played admirably by the Hilyer Festival Orchestra were good, though there was an interminable solo from Candide and a piece from Puccini that had me looking for a good excuse to wander out of range of the speakers (not easy since we were right under the speakers). I like Baroque, not Classical music (Mozart is on the cusp, along with Haydn). You are not, of course, going to get the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields or the Boston Pops for a local concert in Salem. So we must be thankful for what we get. Of course there was not a bit of Baroque music in the program. The traditional 1812 Overture and Stars & Stripes Forever ended the performance.

Why is the 1812 Overture so prominent at American July 4th celebrations? With parts of the French national anthem repeating so many times in the composition, it almost sounds unpatriotic these days. OK, it is perfect for cannons, fireworks and bells. But so are Handel's Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. Maybe it is time to look past 1776 and 1812 and start incorporating Handel's works into our concerts/fireworks shows. After all, the French and Russians have been half-hearted friends at best over the centuries. Since 1917, Britain has been a firm friend. And of the Americans decended from European ancestry, Brits and people from places once subject to British rule (Ireland) far outnumber people with French ancestry. Even though we are celebrating our independence from Britain, maybe Handel's works would not be out of place. Especially so if the Royal Fireworks Music was followed by a rousing rendition of Stars & Stripes Forever. In the many years I was in the British 10th Regiment, we marched annually to great applause in Memorial Day and Independence Day parades, despite the fact that we commemorate the guys who put some of those veterans in their graves, and the folks we rebelled against. So why not Handel on July 4th instead of Tchaikovsky?

A change in the fireworks discharge point prevented us from doing what we normally do, walking almost to Derby Light to set up our chairs. This year, they were set off from right by the light, so we had to stay way back down the wharf. Fortunately, we were there early enough to get front row seats. We did see the Marblehead fireworks show too, though from our location closer to Derby Street they were much more distant.

The display this year was better than last year's, in large part due to a donation from Target, which is opening a new store in Salem this month. In fact, the display was downright fantastic, and our seats were perfect for it. It was so intense at times that one could not even see the Marblehead show, which was directly behind the Salem location (at least from our vantage point).

Happy July 4th Weekend!

God bless America!

Navy Chaplains Have Been Engaging In the Same Conduct That Has Brought the Civilian Priesthood Into Disrepute.

Archbishop O'Malley May Eschew Cardinal's Residence
Look for the Archdiocese to sell it to any interested buyer (think, Boston College, which is right across the street and would love to get its hands on it).

This story from the Washington Post, though it details events of almost 20 years ago, is very hopeful in regard to how committed our new Archbishop will be to walking the walk, as well as talking the talk.

Archbishop-designate O'Malley On Electoral Duties and the Abortion Culture
Thanks to Mark Shea for the link.

Born, Or Died, On the Fourth of July
It is really astonishing the number of great American conservatives who were either born or died on July 4th.

The man most directly responsible for pushing American independence through the Continental Congress, John Adams died on the morning of July 4th 1826, 50 years after the event, during the presidency of his son.

Fisher Ames, the most eloquent speaker of the first Congresses, and champion of the New England Federalists died on July 4th, 1808.

Nathaniel Hawthrone, who wrote trenchantly about the imperfections of the human heart and the folly of wild-eyed utopian reformers, was born on July 4th, 1804 here in Salem.

One of the 20th Century's 4 best presidents, Calvin Coolidge, was born on July 4th 1872. By the way, the other three best 20th Century presidents were Reagan, Eishenhower, and Taft.

One notes the very strong New England flavor the list has.

One other great conservative American, though she is most emphatically not a New Englander, though she lives here, just missed being born on the Fourth of July. My lovely wife Mrs. F. was born on July 5th, 11 days before me.

Yesterday, I Forgot To Note This, Too
I always miss the feast of Saint Thomas since they moved it from its traditonal date in December. Moving Saint Thomas seems like the height of folly and tinkering for tinkering's sake, since no one has any idea on what date he actually died.

But on the reformed calendar of saints' days, July 3rd is indeed the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, one of my personal patrons. The others are St. George (the G. in "G. Thomas" standing for George), and St. John the Evangelist, (John being my confirmation name).

Saint Thomas I like a great deal. I sympathize with his faith problem. And don't forget that the traditional mark of reverence for the laity on the Elevation, "My Lord, and my God," is from Saint Thomas' own lips on seeing the risen Lord on Low Sunday. Tradition says that Saint Thomas preached and was martyred in India, and that he had skills as an architect.

The Dog Days Started Yesterday
Sirius, the "Dog Star" is prominent from now until August 11th. Since from July 3rd to mid-August is usually the hottest part of the year, and it seems to coincide with the prominence of Sirius, this time has long been called the Dog Days.

No Fireworks Near You?
High insurance premiums, tight city and town budgets, and Homeland Security Department regulations on the transportation of explosives have limited the number of places in the country that are able to enjoy fireworks this year.

If you find yourself unable to attend a fireworks display this year, and regret that, turn up your sound, darken the room, plug some patriotic music into the CD player, and check out these virtual fireworks from Hogpainter.com.

The Most Moving Expression of Love of Country and Family I Have Read

A week before the battle of Bull Run, Sullivan Ballou, a Major in the Second Rhode Island Volunteers, wrote home to his wife in Smithfield.

July 14, 1861
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sarah,

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps tomorrow. And lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I am no more.

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how American civilization now leans upon the triumph of the government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing, perfectly willing to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this government and to pay that debt.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but omnipotence can break. Yet my love of country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly with all those chains to the battlefield. The memory of all the blissful moments I have enjoyed with you come crowding over me. And, I feel most deeply grateful to God and you, that I have enjoyed them for so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up, and burn to ashes the hope that in future years, when God willing we might have still lived and loved together, and seen our boys grow up to honorable man-hood around us.

If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I loved you. Nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless how foolish I have sometimes been.

But oh Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around the ones they love, I shall always be with you. Through the brightest day and the darkest night, always, always. And when a cool breeze fans your cheek it shall be my breath. Or the cool air your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead. Think I am gone and wait for me for. For we shall meet again.

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first battle of Bull Run.

Made famous by Ken Burns' The Civil War series and recorded by Phil Coulter and Liam Clancy on Coulter's Touch of Tranquility album, which you can buy from Amazon. I defy anyone to listen with attention to this recording without being moved. Read a little more about Major Sullivan Ballou here.

Happy Independence Day!
For those men who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd, 1776, the odds did not look very good. Public opinion polls, if they existed, probably would have told them that only one-third of the population favored the course upon which they were about to embark. One-third was indifferent. One-third opposed independence. The men gathered from the thirteen colonies in Philadelphia, even without polling, probably had a sense that this was the case.

The army which would be the primary instrument of winning independence was scarcely disciplined, poorly uniformed, badly armed, and ill-supplied with food and ammunition. Pay was a promise (which, in fact, was mostly ignored 7 years later). Its generals had no experience commanding larger bodies of troops than a battalion.

True, there had been some victories. Boston had been rendered untenable for the enemy, and he had evacuated it. Fort Ticonderoga had fallen to a surprise attack. The delagates in Philadelphia probably did not know it, but an enemy invasion of Charleston, SC had been averted a few days before.

But there had also been defeats. Despite inflicting heavy losses on the enemy, Bunker Hill had been captured. The attempt to capture Canada had failed miserably.

Most significant was what was coming. As the delegates debated independence, they knew that the British army and fleet that had left Boston was en route from Halifax, probably heading for New York. If their spies were accurate, that army would rendezvous with another escorted by an even larger fleet.

Large numbers of British and German troops just arrived from Europe had driven the American Northern Army from Canada, and were poised to drive down Lake Champlain. These troops who would confront their own tattered, inexperienced army were the best Europe could field. British troops who had conquered an empire just 15 years before would be joined by excellent troops from Brunswick and Hesse Cassel, Frederick the Great's best allies.

The enemy was supported by professional artillerists, and by a navy that was (despite peacetime decline and corruption) still, ship-for-ship, the best in the world. Thousands of their fellow countrymen would be happy to take up arms alongside the British army. To make matters worse, the Indian nations were ready to take up arms on behalf of the King, raising the prospect of burned farms, scalped settlers, and women and children abducted into captivity among the savages.

The men in Philadelphia must have found the prospect of declaring independence a daunting task. In the next three months, the most likely outcome was that the British army would take New York, flatten their own army, and then march on Philadelphia to hang them for treason. Their property would be taken from their families. At best they would become fugitives constantly on the run from British authorities.

But the best of them had a vision for the future, and strong reasons to feel the need to break with the past. The reasons we all know from our study of American history from 1763-1776. The vision was that they would govern themselves, as they actually had for the most part, until the Imperial government decided to tap America for revenue to pay for keeping the peace with the Indians. John Winthrop's biblical vision of a city set upon a hill continued to inspire, and merged with Locke's ideas about government, and newer ideas coming from Adam Smith about how an economy ought to be allowed to develop. A unified vision of a new nation which would serve as a beacon of liberty for all nations emerged, and was in the forefront of the minds of the men in Philadelphia. The men gathered in the Continental Congress had come to see themselves as different from any other nation, even the mother country. Their views, hopes, and aspirations were entirely divorced from what was going on in the courts of Europe. They saw opportunity and growth where Europe saw only problems and sought only limitations. These men and the colonies they represented had become a different nationality in need of a new nation.

And yet, despite everything a conventional military mind in 1776 might have told the delegates in Philadelphia, it was the vision that prevailed, and not the balance of forces. It is that vision that we celebrate today. John Adams, who did more than anyone to push the cause of independence through Congress, wrote to his wife that July 2, 1776 (the day the Declaration was approved),

"...Will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverence by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more."

And so may it be.

May God bless America!

Thursday, July 03, 2003

The Dog That Did Not Bark
Here we are at an important holiday weekend. July 4th has a tremendous symbolic importance. And the terror level was not raised to orange again, as it has been at almost every major holiday since September 11th.

Let us hope that this is a positive sign for the future.

Downtown Concerts
Back around the turn of the last century, small towns had band concerts one night per week during the summer. The bands were made up of amateur performers (usually townsfolk), and were free. The repertoire tended toward what a later generation would dub schmaltz. But most of the town and the inhabitants of the surrounding farms would turn out, folks who might never in their entire lives venture the 50-100 miles to the city to listen to a really professional group play. The town concerts were a highlight of the summer, like the church picnic and the strawberry social.

And no, the ghost of Haydn Pearson is not writing this blog.

Today, the equivalent of that is the free summer concert. The groups that perform range from hip-hop performers to trios that specialize in sea chanteys. No big names of course. You won't see the Revels or the Boston Camerata at these performances. Some of these groups consider themselves professional, but don't perform full time. They often sell CDs of their music at the free concerts. Most of the groups are a step down from the level of the Makem Brothers (Tommy's sons), who can sell out a concert hall and have several CDs for sale. Sometimes you come across groups with a great deal of potential, as we did in Kennebunkport on our honeymoon, when we chanced to hear a concert by a local group called the Angel Band, which specializes in the music of O'Carolan.

Salem has such a concert series, inaugurated for the year in the last two weeks. It is part of what is called the "Salem Main Streets" program, an effort to bring potential shoppers into the downtown on these summer evenings. We get not one concert but three or four, taking place in different downtown locales, and staggered times in the evening. Thursday is the night these things take place. Many of the merchants make a special effort to stay open, though the crowds are not exactly what they would like to see.

Tonight, we were out enjoying a cooling breeze when we heard that the Salem State College Ensemble would put on a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar in a few minutes. Not being pressed for time this evening, we walked down to Armory Park and listened for a while.

We saw about 20 performers from the cast (Salem State is putting on JCS this summer). Only three were male. No costumes, of course. One electric guitarist. No microphones, no speakers. A female Judas who was probably the best singer of the group (her voice carried well outside without amplification). A Jesus who could not quite decide what key he wanted to sing the Gethsemane scene in. A superannuated mutt bitch, obviously belonging to one of the kids in the cast, who was very disturbed about being tied to a tree twenty feet from one of her people, but who eventually decided to lie down and listen and wait for her owner to finish whatever eccentric human thing she was busy with. The kids had to make some adjustments, as some of them could not hit the high notes most of us 30-50-somethings know so well from the CD of the original stage version.

On the whole, probably not too different from the standards of the old town band concerts. A vast deal more enthusiasm than talent. When the performance started, it was still rather hot, so the kids ought to be congratulated for brightening the evening for the 30 or so folks sitting on the rocks around Armory Park.

I can now hear another concert from the vicinity of Derby Square, but am not tempted. Doesn't sound like my kind of thing. In fact, most of the scheduled concerts are not. But if they do something to help our struggling merchant community, hard hit as it has been by the decline in tourism spending over the last two years, that is wonderful.

Ink For Printers Is 7 Times More Expensive Than Champagne
Something seem wrong here to you?

Press Reports On Archbishop-designate O'Malley
National Catholic Reporter has assembled a weblog of linking to coverage on the appointment of Archbishop-designate O'Malley.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

This Is the 140th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg
Mark Sullivan and Lane Core reminded me of it tonight.

I missed noting yesterday's anniversary of the fighting on Seminary Ridge between Buford's Union cavalry (dismounted) and the better part of a Confederate Corps.

Today was the anniversary of the fight at Little Round Top, the engagement in which the 20th Maine Regiment distinguished itself so gallantly. The story can be told in a few sentences. Longstreet desired to attack the left flank of the Union position. That left flank was on a low wooded hill known as Little Round Top. Since Confederate forces were attacking all around the Union perimeter that day, there was little to spare to guard the left flank. At the last minute a single brigade was rushed to the spot. The regiment on the extreme left was the 20th Maine, led by Bowdoin College professor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin. Chamberlin spread his men in a thin line. They withstood several Confederate attacks. Well-directed fire kept the attackers at bay. Some closed with the 20th Maine at times, but were driven back or killed. No support came to the 20th's exposed left flank, and the men were running out of ammunition. Chamberlin refused his left, had the men of the left-hand companies pull back into a more compact position, which would force the attackers to climb further up the hill to get to them, and give them more time to fire at them. Withdrawal meant that the entire Union Army would be outflanked, and would have to withdraw from the Gettysburg position. A withdrawal from the Gettysburg position would have made Robert E. Lee triumphant on Union soil, and brought panic to Washington. With almost no ammunition left, Chamberlin had his men fix bayonets, and wheeled his refused left flank companies as they charged down the hill at their attackers. The Confederates, worn out by theri previous attacks and winded by the climb, were stunned by this tactic, and fled. Chamberlin and the 20th Maine Regiment saved the Army of the Potomac that July 2nd. They may have saved the Union itself that day.

This is a good opportunity to praise and recommend an excellent movie, Gettysburg. The fight on Little Round Top is, unintentionally I think, the emotional high point of the movie (just as the fight between the New York Irish Brigade and a Georgia Irish Regiment at Fredericksburg is the emotional high point of its prequel Gods & Generals). Pickett's Charge on July 3rd lacks the intensity of the fight of the 20th Maine. The Little Round Top scene is what re-enacting feels like at its best. It is the best motion picture depiction of linear warfare I have seen (yes, it is better than the battle scenes in The Patriot, and that is saying something, when you realize that the Civil War is not my time period, and the Revolutionary War is). The camera work of this scene is really done from a soldier's perspective much of the time (much more so than during Pickett's Charge). Gettysburg is a terrific movie about the turning point of the Civil War. It is a long movie (like its prequel). But it is well worth the 3+ hours. If you have a mind to buy it, I would recommend DVD format (even if you can get the VHS cheaply). The VHS is two cassettes, so it takes up much more space on your shelf. I think I paid $25 for the VHS three years ago. I have seen the DVD for the same price. And the battle scenes in digital format would be stunning. I highly recommend it for your July 4th weekend viewing. You might even be able to find a copy to rent, since all the Civil War guys will be down at the battle re-enactment.

Archbishop-designate O'Malley To Be Installed July 30
Many, including this writer, have speculated that the installation would not be until the fall. But given the gravity of the situation, and the Boston Archdiocese's leaderless listing to port it, has been brought forward to Wednesday, July 30th. That was a smart move. The sooner the better.

Appreciating, or the Recta Ratio-Approved Stamp
I've been thinking of doing this for a while. When I first started this blog, I would, from time to time add a special but fairly regular feature like Liturgical Abuses on things that drive me nuts at Mass or A Feast of Our Own on seasonal food topics. But it is the start of the summer. Seasonal food is, to me, mostly a fall and winter thing. And I haven't been really riled up about how Mass is said in a while.

With the war and Mrs. F's illness and just being busy, I haven't come up with a new regular feature in a while.

We don't want things to get too dull around here.

In our daily life, we find ourselves using certain products, services, and stores again and again. Why not give a plug to those things that consistently please us? I am under no delusions that this will bring floods of new customers to the products, stores, or services I mention. I have a fair idea that this blog is not exactly read by the masses.

Still, why not praise goods and services that please us? Any written encouragement can only help the cause. And maybe someone, somewhere, will read what I have written and decide to stop in at the featured shop, or buy the featured product when they see it on the store shelf. And if no one ever shops there or buys the product again, at least I will have said something positive about that product or shop.

Without further ado, here is today's Appreciating feature:

Peter Barter Florist & Colonial Williamsburg Shop
201 Derby Street (at Pickering Wharf)
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 744-3144

Barter's is an FTD florist a few blocks away from our home. They do not have a web site. Peter Barter is an old friend. He and his wife run the shop and do an active business providing flowers for various occasions. When we need roses, or flowers for the table, we troop down to Pickering Wharf and talk to Peter or his wife. The quality of their flower products is excellent. Our Valentine Day roses last well past the holiday.

But Barter's is also a Colonial Williamsburg dealer. Want a CD of 18th century music? The form for an apple cone to grace your table at Christmas? The best-smelling potpourri to lend a festive scent to your home? 18th century-style silver? Books on Colonial Williamsburg? Maybe china or glassware sold by Williamsburg? Barter's has it.

The atmosphere of the shop is friendly. Lots of folks touristing around Pickering Wharf (down the street from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and the House of the Seven Gables) stop by. It is very close to Immaculate Conception Church (neighbor Domenico Bettinelli's parish).

So the next time you are in Salem, or if you want to send flowers by FTD or Teleflora to someone in Salem, Peabody, Beverly, Danvers, Swampscott, or Marblehead, stop by or give them a call.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Happy Dominion Day To Our Friends in Canada !

A NewStart
I found this profile on Archbishop-designate O'Malley's style rather lacking in anecdotes. Not much to illustrate how he goes about his business, which is unusual for someone who was bishop of Fall River for almost a decade.

Requiescat in Pace
Another one! Robert McCloskey, author of the childrens' book Make Way For Ducklings died yesterday at his home in Deer Isle, Maine at the age of 88. His ducklings are immortalized in bronze statues at the Boston Public Garden.
Requiescat in pace.

His was not a name we came up with the other night.

Archbishop-Designate Sean Patrick O'Malley
They don't come too much more Irish than that. And he isn't even from the Boston area originally. He was born in Ohio, and brought up and educated in Pennsylvania. Good. That means that, even though he was bishop of Fall River for almost a decade, he is not part of the Old Boys' Club of the Archdiocese.

We Have A New Archbishop!
The Vatican made the announcement a few minutes ago. Boston has a new pastor. Bishop Sean O'Malley, formerly bishop of the Palm Beach, Fall River, and the US Virgin Islands dioceses has been appointed Archbishop of Boston, replacing Bernard Cardinal Law who resigned in disgrace over his handling of pervert priests over 18 years.

Archbishop-designate O'Malley is a Capuchin monk and an expert in dealing with minority communities. In the last decade he has been the Vatican's choice to clean up bad situations regarding sex abuse by priests/bishops in Fall River and Palm Beach.

Bishop Richard Lennon was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese when Cardinal Law resigned in December. The Archdiocese currently faces a crisis over litigation of some 500 claims of sex abuse by priests over the last 50 years, more than 75% against young boys. It also faces declining donations in response to its handling of known molesters in the priesthood, and a growing rebellion among liberal clergy, theologians, and laity.

It is not clear exactly how Archbishop-designate O'Malley will handle these matters. But Recta Ratio welcomes a new pastor for the Archdiocese and prays for his success here (and a long, happy, and productive tenure here for him).

Requiescat In Pace
Comedian Buddy Hackett died Monday at the age of 79. I don't have any more details. I own one movie he was in, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I seem to remember that he was in some of the Herbie movies as well, but haven't seen them in about 30 years. May he rest in peace.

With the recent deaths of Strom Thurmond, Gregory Peck, Katharine Hepburn, Dennis Thatcher, and David Brinkley, Mrs. F. and I spent some idle time last night thinking about celebrities whose obituaries we might very well see soon. Did you know that Al Lewis, who played Grandpa Munster, is still alive? Fay Wray? Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.? Myrna Loy? We came up with about 80 names.

We were using IMDb to get birth dates for the actor celebrities. Eerily, Buddy Hackett's name did come up. The surviving cast of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is getting thinner and thinner on the ground. All we could name who are left now were Jerry Lewis, Don Knotts, Mickey Rooney, and Jonathan Winters. Scary when the icons of one's childhood are almost all gone. God bless and keep them all.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Interesting Thread Over At Dyspepetic Mutterings
Brother Dale set us a task of coming up with a rational basis argument under the ruling of Lawrence v. Texas that could be used to defend state laws against polygamy. The Justice Kennedy's majority opinion is so broad that it is not an easy task. A few of us have had a go. Nothing really helpful has come to mind.

If the justices do not have a mind to extend Lawrence to polygamy, they will have to do some serious gymnastics to distinguish this ruling. I don't see how they can come up with something that will be in any way a rational exercise in constitutional interpretation.

If the polygamists play their game right, and gather support for 20 years or so, try to get lots of favorable press, and pick the moment when the composition of the Court is just right, they, too will get a federal constitutional right recognized under "the penumbra emanating" from the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

There is nothing in the majority opinion in Lawrence to stop them. It is all sail and no anchor, which is something Lord Macaulay said about the US Constitution itself as early as 1857.

McSorley Said He Did Not Attempt To Kill Himself
It is a wonderful thing that he has recovered to this extent. He might very well have died or ended up in some sort of vegetative state. God be praised.

It Is All But Official
Sources inside the Boston chancery have now told WBZ TV Boston that the choice is indeed Bishop O'Malley, and that it will be announced tomorrow morning.

Just In Case
You might want to read more about Bishop O'Malley from the website of the Palm Beach Diocese.
For those who did not already know, he is a Capuchin monk.

Update: O'Brien and O'Malley. Originally from the same island, but very different men.

July 4th Week...
And the news is thin (which may explain the legs the O'Malley story seems to have in the Boston media this morning).

This is, of course, one of the biggest vacation weeks of the year.

Speaking of vacations, we are off for Anchorage and Seattle July 11th, and will be back late on the 20th. So steel yourselves for a week plus without Recta Ratio updates.

Mel Gibson Screens The Passion For Focus On Family
And gets lots of positive feedback. Interestingly, the audience saw it with subtitles. Gibson wants to release it without them. The audience thought the subtitles worked for them.

The National Catholic Reporter is saying that Bishop O'Malley will be appointed Archbishop of Boston this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow.

We will see.

Archbishop O'Malley of Boston?
CNN and the AP are reporting that former Fall River Bishop (currently bishop of Palm Beach for the last six months or so) Sean O'Malley will be named Archbishop of Boston. The reports are not confirmed.

It seems unlikely to me, given that O'Malley has just begun cleaning up the mess in Palm Beach. That job can't be done, yet. Taking him out of Palm Beach would be quite a slap in the face to that troubled diocese. But O'Malley would be a good choice from the perspective of cleaning up the pervert priest mess. Bishop O'Malley has become something of a fireman, cleaning up after the Father Porter scandal in Fall River, and then being sent to Palm Beach after two bishops (within 18 months) resigned after revelations that they themselves had abused boys.

On a broader range of issues, I am not sure how forcefully orthodox he is. My impression (and it is only that) is that he is no Bruskewitz. Perverts may have a hard time under him, but dissenters and liturgical innovators won't have much to fear.

We will see.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

This Was Very Appropriate
The Achdiocese of Boston is not all stonewalling and delay. Occasionally, when the TV cameras are not on, it can do something right. The naming of the combined parish for Saint Edith Stein is a wonderful thing. And the fact that the young lady cured through her intercession (and that this miracle contributed to the canonization of this saint) makes it all the more appropriate.

I have always been moved by the story of this saint. She has much to offer the world today.

As someone with a long-standing fondness for and growing set of attachments to the Carmelites (for new readers, my birthday is July 16th, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Carmelites played an important role in bringing me back to an active and informed faith, their bookstore/giftshop at the North Shore Mall is a place I can be found quite often, we know several third-order Carmelites and one of Mrs. F.'s old teaching collegues has entered a cloistered Carmel in Iowa). I am very pleased to see a great new Carmelite saint honored in this way.

My only question involves the use of the saint's birth name, instead of the name she took when she became a Carmelite nun as the name for the parish. Technically, isn't she Saint Theresa Benedicta, not Saint Edith Stein? Is it appropriate to name the parish in this way?

Requiescat In Pace
Hollywood lost one of its all-time greats today. Katharine Hepburn died at the age of 96. She will be remembered forever for her roles in The Philadelphia Story, Little Women, Adam's Rib, Pat & Mike, The Desk Set, The Lion In Winter, The African Queen, Rooster Cogburn (in many ways a re-make of the African Queen with John Wayne and set in the West), and On Golden Pond. She won the Best Actress Oscar 4 times.

With regard to her personal life and the activities of her mother, the less said the better.

May God have mercy on her. Requiescat in pace.

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