Recently, the Washington Post did a four-part series on the state of the Metrorail system entitled "Off the Rails." Staff writers Jo Becker and Lyndsey Layton were online this past Tuesday for a discussion on the series. A transcript is available. I've been using the system for most of the nearly 25 years I've lived here. It is a matter of both practicality and principle that I use public transportation. On those occasions when I am on the Capital Beltway during rush hour, nearly all the cars I see have only one person riding in them. This includes big-@$$ SUVs, as well as those really big-@$$ Hummers. It is a shame that this country does not put more effort into railways as a form of safe, reliable transportation. Most countries have good systems in place, and nearly all are state-subsidized to some degree. The problem in the USA is that our transportation infrastructure (and by extension, the lobbying efforts on the Hill) are centered around the automobile. Since the end of World War II, we have become slaves to our cars. Our local system would benefit from considering dedicated rails for buses for any future extensions. It's more flexible, more reliable, and less costly. Unfortunately, it's not conventional thinking. The planners are not out of the woods yet; they may already be out of their minds.
Elsewhere in Washington, there's a lot of buzz about Cardinal McCarrick's impending retirement as Archbishop of Washington; in particular, who his replacement will be. Vaticanisti lists five possibilities; Edwin O'Brien (Military Archdiocese), William Lori (Bridgeport), Charles Chaput (Denver), Raymond Burke (St Louis), and John Foley (Pontifical Council for Social Communications). Personally, I'd like to see Archbishop Chaput in the position. He's a good straightforward speaker, and is not afraid to buck the secular status quo in favor of the Gospel. Rocky Mountain News reports that he'd prefer to pass if offered the position. (I've heard that before.) Burke has also demonstrated those characteristics, particularly with respect to pro-abortion politicians receiving Communion. Lori knows this area, having served the late Cardinal Hickey in the past, and he would be a good and safe choice; then again, haven't we had plenty of those already? Whoever gets the nod, success in a less-visible position doesn't always transfer over into the big time. That's why I think people who favor Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, for the see in Washington are a bit naive. Being in a remote location allows him some freedom in speaking his mind so boldly, without having to look over his shoulder so much.
I was just informed today of the death of the Trappist monk Basil Pennington. He was recovering from a serious auto accident this past April, and fell asleep in the Lord just two weeks ago, during the chanting of solemn vespers for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. The author of numerous books on the liturgy and spirituality, Dom Basil was also a proponent of the so-called "centering prayer" method. I only met him once, about ten or twelve years ago, at a lecture at Georgetown. As people came into the lecture hall, he simply sat up front in his chair, not fidgeting or speaking, but with a calm look on his face. Only when the voices in the crowd died down, did he begin his talk with an absence of fanfare. Requiescat in pace.